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Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Saturday, 29 August 2009 18:25 UK

GB men's four win gold at Worlds

WORLD ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Venue: Poznan, Poland Dates: 23-30 August Coverage: Finals live on the red button, the BBC Sport website and 5 live sports extra; Highlights on BBC TWO

Matt Langridge, Alex Gregory, Richard Egington and Alex Partridge

Replay - British coxless four win gold

By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in Poznan

Great Britain's men's four took gold at the World Championships in Poland and GB secured two sculling silvers for Katherine Grainger and Alan Campbell.

But men's pair Andy Hodge and Peter Reed, and the women's double of Annabel Vernon and Anna Bebington both had to settle for silver after tight races.

Matt Langridge, Alex Gregory, Richard Egington and Alex Partridge dominated Australia's Olympic silver medallists.

Grainger led for much of her race but was out-sprinted to the line.

And, in fast conditions but very rough water in Poznan, it took a world best time of six minutes 33.35 seconds by New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale to beat Campbell.

Campbell, from Coleraine, clipped a wave with 200m to go but was just half a length down on four-time world champion Drysdale in a new British best 6:34.30.

The GB four, containing three men who took silver in the eight at last year's Olympic Games, built on a strong start to lead Australia over the line by a length and a half.

We had an honest belief we could win but they had too much for us. In honest truth they're an exceptionally good crew

Peter Reed on the NZ crew

Coach Mark Banks said afterwards: "The way they destroyed Australia in the second 500m was outstanding."

And Langridge admitted: "I'm very relieved. We had a feeling at the beginning when we were put in that crew that we could win it.

"Silver last year left a real bitter taste in my mouth. I've never really come to terms with it. It was real motivation. We had to do it and to do it with this crew was amazing."

Grainger was not even expected to gain a medal but beat pre-race favourite Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and only just failed to stop Ekaterina Karsten-Khodotovitch of Belarus defending her title.

It was a huge fillip for her campaign to follow three silver medals at successive Olympics - including disappointment in the quad in Beijing - with gold at London 2012.

"It's been tough since Beijing; everyone knows how disappointed we were with the quad. But I took some time off then got into the single and it has really paid off.

"When I said I would do the single it was always with a view to taking lessons back into a crew boat but 2012 is still a long way off and I make decisions as I go."

Hodge and Reed have been beaten by Hamish Bond and Eric Murray three times already this year but made them work far harder for world gold.

606: DEBATE

The Kiwis put in their usual fast start and had built a lead of almost three seconds by half-way. GB halved that gap in the next 500m but could not match the New Zealand sprint.

"We had an honest belief we could win but they had too much for us. In honest truth they're an exceptionally good crew," said Reed.

"We did everything we could over the summer, everything we could in the race. We'd had a great build-up and were flying in training."

Hodge added: "That was a really tough battle. In the second 500m we started flying and it felt good but they responded and from there to the line was vicious."

Grainger interview after silver success

Murray had to be helped from his boat afterwards, and Bond said: "The British really showed how they've improved over the last five weeks. We threw everything into the first 500 and took a length, then held on."

Women's double Vernon and Bebington put in a massive push in the second half of their race, which saw them move from fourth place to half a length down on Poland, who were roared to victory by the home crowd.

"We started sprinting early and were really closing but they found an extra bit and moved away," said Bebington. "I'm really proud of the way we raced. It's my first silver medal so I've got to be pleased."

Vernon had to accept a silver for the second successive year after the shock defeat in Beijing alongside Grainger.

Katherine Grainger

Grainger takes a surprise silver (UK users only)

"It's been an amazing season with one of my best mates," she said. "We gave it everything we could and had a fantastic race."

Campbell was already looking to London 2012, and taking on his friend and training partner Drysdale again, after winning his first world medal after four years in the single.

Olympic champion Olaf Tufte of Norway finished in sixth place after a difficult week that has seen him off the pace throughout.

"It could have been a world record on any other day but one man was in front of me," said Campbell. "I'm going to push him even harder over the next three years between now and London.

British coxless four gold winners interview

"He was better on the day, I have to accept that, and it's going to fuel me in my training."

The only British finalists to miss out on a medal on Saturday, GB's Louisa Reeve and Olivia Whitlam, finished sixth in the women's pairs but were part of a desperately tight race, with only two lengths separating them from the American winners.

Olympic bronze-medallist GB double scull Steve Rowbotham and Matt Wells missed out on qualifying from Thursday's semi-final and Wells injured his arm during the race.

On Saturday afternoon, Rowbotham and substitute Sam Townsend struggled in the B final, finishing last to take an overall ranking of 12th, and Adam Freeman-Pask was second in his B final in the lightweight men's singles, a non-Olympic event.



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see also
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Injury ends GB quad scull attempt
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Brits to watch at rowing worlds
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Lightweights add to GB qualifiers
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Britain win two golds at Worlds
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GB win World Cup with two golds
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30 May 08 |  Rowing
Rowing boat classes explained
30 May 08 |  Rowing
Rowing on the BBC
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