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Australia strikes gold twice on final day of World Rowing Cup III

Two silvers and a bronze also secured; Next event for Australian Rowing Team is World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France

The Australian Rowing Team secured a total of five medals, including two golds, at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland yesterday (Sunday).

Gold medals came in the Women’s Single Scull and the Men’s Four, silvers from the Women’s Quadruple Scull and the Women’s Double Scull while the Men’s Double Scull snapped up a bronze medal.

Kim Crow continued her sublime run in the Women’s Single Scull to claim her second gold medal of the season. The Victorian blew away her competition to win the race in a time of 7:21:58 some 7:41 seconds ahead of her closest competitor, 2012 Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and 11 seconds ahead of the USA’s Genevra Stone who finished in third.

Post-race Crow said: “Technically I felt I did a very good job and it was amazing to feel so good in such a beautiful place. Physically I still have six weeks to get fitter [before the World Rowing Championships] but I’m on the right track.”

The Men’s Coxless Four backed up Crow’s gold medal with one of their own. The crew have made some seating changes since World Rowing Cup II in Varese, with Alex Hill of South Australia switching seats with Alex Lloyd of New South Wales. The new line-up saw Will Lockwood in the bow seat, with Lloyd ahead of him, then Spencer Turrin and Hill stroking the boat.

For the first 1000 metres the race it was looking like a tussle was on the cards between Australia, Italy, The Netherlands and Romania but the second half of the race was where the Australians came to the fore. With 500 metres to go Simon Cox’s crew held a small lead over Italy who were in turn being chased by Romania, it was a full sprint for the line with Hill upping the Australians’ stroke rate to 40 and sending the Australians over the line in first place.

Post-race, Will Lockwood said: “At World Rowing Cup II in Varese we had just come off the plane and we raced badly. It feels great to have won here in Lucerne, on what feels like the lake of the gods.”

The Women’s Quadruple Sculls final proved to be one of the most exciting of the day. After finishing second fastest in Saturday’s preliminary race, the Australian crew of Jessica Hall, Jennifer Cleary, Kerry Hore and Madeleine Edmunds were drawn in Lane 4 alongside the reigning World Champions, Germany.

It was a tight first half of the race with Tom Westgarth’s crew nipping at the heels of the German crew but the Germans pulled into the lead in the second half. Australia held off a challenge from The Netherlands to secure a silver medal and showed a good improvement on their fifth place finish in Varese at World Rowing Cup II.

Hall, who turns 23 today (Monday), said: “We had a good race, it’s a good step up on Varese. The conditions were tricky here, we have a lot to improve in the six weeks before the World Rowing Championships which we are excited about.”

South Australian-based Sally Kehoe and Olympia Aldersey, in the Women’s Double Scull, saw France take the lead at the start of their race but not for long as the current holders of the World Best Time took the lead with Belarus just behind in second while New Zealand’s crew was sat at the back of the field.

As Kehoe and Aldersey began to settle into a good rhythm, and lead, the New Zealanders began to creep through the pack. In the final sprint for the line, the New Zealand crew just pipped Jason Lane’s crew who claimed a silver medal behind their Trans-Tasman rivals.

Post-race, Kehoe commented: “We are happy with the result. We did a good step-up from Varese where we finished in fifth. We are looking forward to improving over the next few weeks, we’ll try to get on top of this very tight field.”

The bronze medal of the day came for Rhett Ayliffe’s crew of Alexander Belonogoff and James McRae in the Men’s Double Scull. The double to beat in the race was no doubt the Croatian brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic, the current World Champions.

The Sinkovic brothers led the race from the start with Germany’s Marcel Hacker and Stephen Krueger chasing them followed by Australia’s Belonogoff and McRae. The battle became between the Australians and the Germans for the silver medal as the gap closed on the Sinkovic brothers who were now rating 40 with Australia and Germany at 43 in the final 50 metres but it was the Germans who claimed the silver with Australia taking third.

Post-race Belonogoff said: “It was a good race for us, we are now used to the time zone and feel fresher. We just need to be a bit stronger and maybe we can stay with the Croatians.”

At the start of the day’s finals, the Men’s Quadruple Scull had a last minute change ahead of its final with David Watts having to be replaced by Max McQueeney due to an injury. The crew now featuring McQueeney in the bow seat and Cameron Girdlestone stroking the boat, but the crew finished out of the medals with a sixth place finish.

The young Men’s Pair of Jack Hargreaves and Nick Wheatley faced off to the Olympic and World Champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray along with Great Britain and a number of big hitters in their A-Final. The pair, coached by Mark Prater, finished fifth in their final and will now head to Plovdiv, Bulgaria to race in the Under 23 World Rowing Championships and bid to upgrade their 2014 silver medal to a gold.

The Lightweight Women’s Double Scull of Alice McNamara and Ella Flecker, racing their first finals of 2015 finished in fifth place while the Men’s Eight finished fifth in its final and the Women’s Eight sixth in their final.

Earlier in the day, the Women’s Pair of Molly Goodman and Genevieve Horton won their B-Final while the Lightweight Men’s Four of Darryn Purcell, Nick Silcox, Perry Ward and Tim McDonnell finished fifth in their B-Final.