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Best by a stroke

Great Britain take gold in the women's double scull

Fifth world gold for GB in double scull

Sir Steve Redgrave
By Sir Steve Redgrave
Five-time Olympic champion

Karapiro, New Zealand

The outstanding performance at the World Rowing Championships, not just by a British crew but of the entire regatta, was that of Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins in the women's double scull.

Their sheer dominance from start to finish has got to bode well that the British women's team can end their long hunt for an elusive Olympic gold medal in 2012.

The lightweight men's team also enjoyed an impressive championships. Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter proved they are already back to their Olympic best, despite not racing at all last year, by taking their first world title together.

It is poignant that this is the first time a British crew has won this event since Nottingham in 1986, when Allan Whitwell and Carl Smith were victorious. Carl died in a road accident earlier this year. As an outstanding lightweight himself, I am sure Carl would have enjoyed seeing the style in which the duo took their gold here.

The lightweight coxless four provided the race of the championships with only 0.08 seconds separating the top three boats - the same amount of time by which the men's four, containing my former partner Matt Pinsent, claimed gold at the Athens Olympics.

This time there was another boat in between, showing just what a nail biter this was for the victorious British team.

The story of the Championships, for me, has to be Greg Searle in the men's eight.

GB's men's eight team working hard for their silver

Searle's 'magnificent eight' take silver

Having not won a medal for 14 years, and taken a decade away from the sport, what a comeback he made.

He was hoping to just make it into the team this year and push for medals in 2012 - but he is way ahead of schedule, winning silver here, and only missing gold by an agonising half a second. Who knows what he can go on to achieve in two years' time?

My biggest disappointment was the performance of the men's four. The defending world champions weren't even in the top three.

Although I admit that the conditions were very tricky and, in my view, unfair.

The Federation Internationale des Societes d'Aviron (Fisa) should have stepped in to delay racing until conditions improved. It is not good to see our sport produce such random results because of the conditions.

The men's coxless pair produced a thrilling race in just losing out once again to their New Zealand rivals. But the reality is that, even though it was the closest they have got to overhauling the Kiwis, it is now 12 defeats and no wins.

In my opinion, this should spur them on to try again next year but chief coach Jurgen Grobler will probably look to put together a new four from the men's group.

Overall, the British team has had its best World Championships results, with four golds in Olympic events, four silvers and a bronze.

Even with the disappointments taken into account, this stands us in great stead to win even more medals on our home water at London 2012.

I was only 16 years old the last time the World Championships were held here in Karapiro, New Zealand - a little bit too young to have competed. I always regretted not being able to row down here during my career but being here with the BBC has been the next best thing.

It has been a real privilege to interview the athletes coming off the water before they have even collected their medals.

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see also
Britain head Worlds medal table
07 Nov 10 |  Rowing
Golden guarantee
03 Nov 10 |  Rowing
Redgrave: ultimate Olympian
31 Oct 00 |  Other Sports
Rowing weight classes explained
30 May 08 |  Rowing
Rowing boat classes explained
30 May 08 |  Rowing
Power to your pull, with Andy Hodge
06 Jun 08 |  Rowing
Rowing on the BBC
15 Oct 10 |  Rowing

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