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Silver to doubles crew harms Savage bid
By Jim Morton
21:58 AEST Sun Jun 17 2012

Controversial sculler Pippa Savage's hopes of rowing at the London Games have suffered a heavy blow with Australia's double sculls crew of Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley impressing at the final pre-Olympic regatta.

Crow and Pratley won silver at World Cup 3 in Munich on Sunday night (AEST), pushing world champions Great Britain hard in their first international event together.

Savage had been de-selected from the Australian team and sent home from Switzerland three weeks ago before World Cup 2 after clashing with her quad sculls crew-mates.

But the 31-year-old Melbourne-based rower was reinstated as a "non-travelling reserve" nine days ago following an appeal.

It opened the door for Savage to return to the team in the event of an injury to any of the heavyweight scullers or if selectors chose to move the gifted Crow into the single sculls boat.

Crow qualified the single in Switzerland last month before then producing a shock silver in World Cup 2 while Pratley, the 2006 world champion in the double sculls, was sidelined by a rib injury.

But Crow and Pratley's encouraging race in Munich is highly likely to mean they'll be kept together in the double when selectors meet on Monday night to finalise their Olympic team.

"It's obviously a call the selectors will make but Brooke and I have always had a lot of confidence in each other and this boat so I think that's what will happen," Crow told AAP.

Britain's world champion crew of Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger, who is looking for her first Games gold after three successive Olympic silvers, won by a length in seven minutes 09.9 seconds but it wasn't easy.

The Australians (7:11.92) pushed them all the way and it was only when the British duo were challenged just before the 1500m mark that the favourites responded.

"It was a good start, but I think we've got a lot of work to do," Crow said.

"We've got a lot to improve on but it's also promising that we have the speed and the raceabilty so we do take a lot of confidence out of that."

Savage's old quad sculls crew finished fourth, five seconds behind winners Ukraine, but is next to no chance of being recalled to that boat.

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