Rowing: Veteran roars into history

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The Independent Online
STEVEN REDGRAVE stretched belief yesterday when at 32, and in the 14th year of his international career, he and his 23-year-old partner, Matthew Pinsent, knocked three seconds off the coxless pairs world record to blast through and win a thrilling final here yesterday.

Two and a half seconds behind, with 500 metres to go, Pinsent raised the rate to 44 strokes for the final 300 metres. The German pair, Peter Hoeltzenbein and Thorsten Streppelhoff, who had led from half-way, simply could not withstand the extraordinary acceleration that Pinsent and Redgrave produced to squeeze in front less than 10 strokes from the line.

The remainder of the men's team finished sixth or worse but the women's and lightweight men's teams won two other golds and three silvers from eight events.

The women's pair of Miriam Batten and Jo Turvey have struggled against the French world champions for the past two seasons. And they lost again yesterday, but the margin was small and the British pair showed style and spirit.

The men's eight, who have had an unsettled season with frequent changes of personnel and positions, won the B final to take seventh overall by 0.39sec from a Nottinghamshire County club crew who had threatened to embarrass all weekend.

Peter Haining, the Scottish lightweight sculler, came through once again at the last gasp. Half of him is the toughest man in the toughest event, and half is the ecstatic showman who clasps his victims in a sweaty embrace at the finish and loves to play to the crowd. Yesterday, he raced the last 300 metres at 38 strokes, timing his finish perfectly to pass Karsten Neilsen, the Dane, and his rival, Niall O'Toole. Haining said: 'It was Niall I was watching, but before we could settle our own score one of us had to break the Dane and the American, who went in front for the first half.'

The lightweight men's eight were also in third place at half-way, but never lost touch with five of the crew having medal-winning careers stretching over 10 years. They timed their final push to perfection, and swept through to win by half a length from Germany with the feared Danes in third place, one length behind.

The London lightweight four were finally beaten by their own thirst for racing. They were last after 500 metres and gradually clawed their way to second place, leading a group of four finishers who crossed the line within one second. It is probable that five hard races at Henley two weeks ago had taken the edge off their strength. There are now seven weeks before the World Championships in Indianapolis in which to restoke the fire.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 31