New Zealand’s elite rowers confirmed their status as a world rowing powerhouse topping the medal table and securing ten medals from ten finals on the final day of the World Rowing Cup III in Poznan, Poland.
Perfect conditions greeted the world’s top rowers at Lake Malta for what was the final chance for crews to test each other before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
After a successful first two days, all ten New Zealand boats that will compete in Rio claimed medals including five gold, three silver and two bronze, adding to the gold medal won by World Champion Zoe McBride in the lightweight women’s single sculls recently.
In the women’s pair A final Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown caused some panic to Olympic champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain with an outstanding race up the course and a late surge to claim silver just 1.6 seconds behind the British pair who finished in a blistering time of 6:52.79. Madalina Beres and Laura Oprea of Romania claimed bronze. Reserves Olivia Loe and Holly Greenslade started out strongly but faded as the pace picked up and finished in sixth.
There were no surprises in the men’s pair as Hamish Bond and Eric Murray asserted their dominance yet again, winning gold in a time of 6:18.58, more than a length ahead of Australia’s Spencer Turrin and Alexander Lloyd with silver and Great Britain’s Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes claiming bronze.
Reserves Axel Dickinson and Drikus Conradie claimed second in their men’s pair B final with a massive late push, relegating Australia’s James Medway and Joshua Hicks to third and crossing the line behind Germany’s Johannes Weissenfeld and Torben Johannesen.
World Champions Sophie Mackenzie and Julia Edward ended an eventful regatta with a bronze medal in the lightweight women’s double sculls with a time of 6:50.65. Despite an impressive surge the duo were unable to match the searing pace of the Dutch crew of Ilse Paulis and Maaike Head who snatched gold with a new world best time of 6:47.69. The Danish combination of Anne Lolk Thomson and Juliane Rasmussen claimed silver.
The lightweight men’s four combination of James Hunter, Alistair Bond, reserve Matt Dunham and James Lassche backed up their Rowing World Cup II gold medal with another resounding victory. The New Zealanders crossed the line in a time of 5:48.34, with a clear water advantage over Denmark in silver and Great Britain in bronze.
Robbie Manson and Chris Harris one-upped their World Rowing Cup II silver medal by winning gold in emphatic style in the men’s double sculls event.
The British duo of Jonathan Walton and John Collins made an early break and gained a clear water advantage but were hunted down in the last few hundred meters by the New Zealanders and had to settle for silver. The French crew of Hugo Boucheron and Matthew Androdias claimed bronze.
World Champions Eve Macfarlane and Zoe Stevenson took a conservative approach to the start of the women’s double sculls event but patiently picked their way through the field to claim silver. Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj rowed to an impressive gold, while France’s Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino chased to grab bronze.
The men’s single sculls turned into a two-man battle between Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale and European Champion Damir Martin of Croatia.
Head-to-head for most of the course, Martin couldn’t match the decisive move by Drysdale who claimed gold in a time of 6:37.81. Alan Campbell of Great Britain rounded out the medals with bronze while New Zealand reserve John Story held his own to finish in fifth.
New Zealand was guaranteed a medal with just three boats contesting the women’s eight event, but the New Zealand crew ensured that the race wouldn’t be a walkover as they put the pressure on an experienced British crew and powered ahead to add another gold to the table. Great Britain claimed silver, and the Netherlands trailed in bronze.
In one of the most anticipated races of the day, 2014 World Champion Emma Twigg had to settle for silver as reigning World Champion Kimberly Brennan of Australia won gold with a clear water advantage over a stacked field. The Australian opened a decisive early lead and despite her best efforts Twigg was unable to close the gap. Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin claimed bronze.
Reserve Lucy Spoors rowed a solid race in the women’s single sculls B final but ran out of power in the last 500m, claiming fifth place.
The final event of the day saw the New Zealand crew earn bronze in a hotly contested men’s eight, while Germany and Great Britain surged ahead and fought a tight tussle to the line to win gold and silver respectively.
The New Zealand elite rowing team now remains in Europe to train before travelling to Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Full results and event information can be found at www.worldrowing.com