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Silver and bronze medals for Australia on first day of finals in Plovdiv

Australia secured its first medals of the U23 World Rowing Championships today (Saturday) when the U23 Women’s Pair and the U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull claimed a bronze and silver in their respective A-Finals.

W4X Medallists Kat and Addy

Addy Dunkley-Smith and Katrina Werry snapped up a bronze medal in the A-Final of the U23 Women’s Pair. The pair, coached by Simon Gadsden, were up against the USA in Lane 4 who as expected started fast to take an early lead and were closely followed by Great Britain in second with France pushing for third. The Australian crew was in fifth by the halfway mark and needed to dig deep to make the podium, and that they did.

The Victorian rowers pushed hard in the final 500 metres challenging both France and Great Britain for the silver and bronze medal positions, and as the French lost speed the Australians took their chance and surged through to take the bronze as Great Britain held onto silver and the USA took home the gold.

Post-race, Dunkley-Smith said: “It’s such an honor to be on the podium and to represent our country. Thanks to our support crew here and at home in Australia.”

Meanwhile, in the U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull the crew of Georgie Gotch, Tessa Carty, Rowena Meredith and Leah Saunders kept a steady pace throughout their whole final, holding off challenges from Germany and France to take silver in their Final.

The Polish Women’s Quad, the ultimate victors, went out hard in the final and led the race from start to finish, however Australia challenged the Europeans as they battled off threats from the other crews. However the crew, coached by Judith Ungemach, remained focus on the task at hand and claimed a silver in the Plovdiv sunshine.

Gotch said post-race: “It is my fifth World Championships and my first medal. It is an amazing feeling, better than I could have imagined. It is the best crew I could imagine to do it with.”

In the final of the U23 Women’s Four, Australia had been drawn in Lane 3 having had the fastest qualifying time. However, the USA had a point to prove in the race having qualified through the repechage. The Americans led the race while the battle for second and third ensued between Australia, Canada and Great Britain. Ultimately the Canadians and British won out, taking silver and bronze with Australia coming in fourth.

In the U23 Coxed Four the Australian crew had a tough race and straight out the blocks it was Italy, in second, who began putting on the pressure on the other competitors after passing the half-way mark, gradually overlapping and then steadily taking over the New Zealanders. In third it was Australia, with Turkey, in fourth, not giving the Australians any peace of mind.

With 500m left to go, the Turkish crew pushed past the Australians, while Italy continued storming ahead, with New Zealand chasing hard. In the final strokes, Germany came out of nowhere, moving up from sixth at the half-way mark to surprise Turkey and finish five tenths of a second ahead, with Australia finishing in fifth place.

Two more Australian Under 23 crews booked their places in the A-Finals at the World Rowing U23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria today (Saturday 25 July). The U23 Men’s Pair of Nick Wheatley and Jack Hargreaves continued their winning streak to book a place in tomorrow’s A-Final, while the U23 Men’s Quadruple Scull of Robert Black, Alexander Purnell, William Mure and Christopher Hayes snapped up a spot in their A-Final.

The first Australian crew to take to the water in Bulgaria today took the form of Jack Armitage and Hamish Parry in the B-Final of the U23 Lightweight Men’s Pair. Having just missed out on a spot in tomorrow’s A-Final, the Queensland-based duo had a point to prove when they took to the calm walters. Armitage and Parry led the race from start to finish and clocked a time of 6:54:56, and sees them now ranked seventh in the world in their age group of this boat class.

Harvard student and Adelaide-local Jack Kelly was up next in the semi-final of the U23 Lightweight Men’s Single Scull, having qualified through the repechage. The young sculler faced stiff competition from Croatia, The Netherlands and Italy and ultimately finished the race in fifth place and will now compete in the B-Final tomorrow (Sunday).

The next semi-final of the day featured the 2014 World Rowing U23 Championships silver medallists, Hargreaves and Wheatley, in the U23 Men’s Pair. The crew, coached by Mark Prater, have been competing at the Senior level this year but have returned to Under 23s for this event and it has proved a fruitful return. The young Sydney University BC pair led the race from start to finish from Lane 4, with 500 metres to go the Australians had a boat and a half length’s lead over Great Britain in second, with Austria in third. The Australians will now compete in the A-Final tomorrow (Sunday) against Great Britain, Austria, Romania, Germany and Serbia.

In the Men’s Double Scull semi-finals, it was Sydney’s Tom Schramko and Canberra’s Luke Letcher eyeing up a spot in tomorrow’s A-Final. The new partnership have been coached by Nick Garratt this season and had a steady race, however the young crew fell just short of a top three finish being pipped at the post by Spain who took one of the three A-Final spots up for grabs along with The Netherlands and Norway. Schramko and Letcher will now compete in tomorrow’s B-Final taking Lane 4.

In the U23 Lightweight Women’s Double semi-final Amy James and Holly Lawrence were up against an in-form New Zealand who bolted out to secure the first qualification spot so it became a battle between Switzerland, Australia and Italy to take the next to places in tomorrow’s A-Final. Unfortunately for the Australians, who had steadily held third place throughout the race, they couldn’t hold of a challenge from Italy in the last 300 metres with James and Lawrence being pushed back into fourth position and into tomorrow’s B-Final.

The final Australian crew to appear in a semi-final today was the U23 Men’s Quadruple Scull of Black, Purnell, Mure and Hayes. Having won their heat the crew were placed in Lane 4 and went out fast chasing down Canada and Poland who had powered out the blocks. Canada led the race from start to finish, with Poland in second and Australia in a steady third, however in the final stretch of the race Australia made a powerful move to get past Poland and take second place while the Polish finished in third. Antonio Maurogiovanni’s crew will now race in the A-Final tomorrow.

The U23 Australian Rowing Team is currently in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for the World Rowing U23 Championships. Live streaming available from the B-Finals via World Rowing’s website:

Start Lists for tomorrow races are available here.