April 29th 1997
Wingfield Sculls, April 29
Greg Searle became the undisputed emperor of British sculling when he took the championship of Great Britain with ease from Putney to Mortlake. Against Peter Haining, Ian Watson and Tom Gale he took command on the Middlesex station at the end of the boathouses at Putney, was more than four lengths up after a mile, and could choose his course on the big incoming tide at leisure.
This is Searle's fifth successive major title since the 1992 Olympic coxed pair gold medallist switched to the single boat last season. Nobody else has held Henley's Diamonds, the National Championships, the Thames World Sculling Challenge, the Scullers Head and the Wingfields, as yesterday's event is known, all at once.
"It is nice to have that sort of control," he said, "but I still need to control my boat skills."
With a world bronze medal under his belt last year, Searle, who is one of the British athletes sponsored to the Sydney Olympics by the Australian insurance company Colonial, is set for a good shot at the World Cup which starts next month.
Haining, once a record breaker in the Wingfields and three times lightweight world champion, bided his time until half way when he got past the heavyweight Watson into second place. But Searle was a dot on the horizon by then. As the wee Scot said: "He was gone and cooking my tea."
Gale led slightly in the early stages but dropped to fourth at Barn Elms and stopped with arm trouble at the crossing before the Duke's Meadows Bandstand.
Intermediates (Searle): Mile - 4.21, Hammersmith Bridge 7.57 (Watson 8.10), Chiswick Steps 12.31 (Haining 12.49), Barnes Bridge 17.06 (Haining 17.26, Watson 17.32).
© Copyright Christopher Dodd, 1997.
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