HANLEY Swan's Anna Bailey rowed to first place winning a gold medal at the largest indoor rowing championship in history recently.

Present World record holder Bailey, aged 50, won gold in the Women's 50-54 heavyweight category at the PPP Healthcare British Indoor Rowing Championship which was held for the first time at the Birmingham National Indoor Arena.

Upton's Carol Barkley, 53, won silver in the Women's 50-54 lightweight category, being pushed into second place by Janet Parker, 53, from One on One Worcester, who broke her own championship and British records.

Attracting more than 3,000 competitors, the event had the largest number of entries in its 11 year history.

In front of 5,000 spectators in a thrilling final Bailey raced to a time of 7 minutes 10.9 seconds over 2,000 metres on the Concept 2 Indoor rower to win the coveted title and was presented with her medal by organiser John Wilson of Concept 2.

The event attracted a wonderful entry, which included Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell, the whole of Britain's world class rowing team, a healthy international entry from as far away as New Zealand and thousands of other indoor rowing and fitness enthusiasts ranging in age from 10-91!

In categories defined by age and weight, the huge field were all trying to secure a medal and, most importantly, beat their own personal bests for the 2,000 metre Olympic Regatta distance on the Concept 2 Indoor Rower machine.

The event also provided a rare opportunity to watch Britain's finest rowers in action. As part of the rigorous selection process for a place in the British rowing squad for 2002, all heavyweight and lightweight men and women took part.