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Australia claims two silver and two bronze medals at World Rowing U23 Championships

The Australian Rowing Team concluded its campaign at the World Rowing U23 Championships last night claiming two silver medals and two bronze medals.

On Saturday, the U23 Women’s Pair claimed bronze and the U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull took home silver in their finals, while yesterday (Sunday) the U23 Men’s Pair won silver in their A-Final and the U23 Men’s Quadruple Scull snapped up a bronze medal.

The U23 Men’s Pair of Jack Hargreaves and Nick Wheatley came into the final as the silver medallists from the 2014 event, and current members of the Senior Australian Rowing Team, and were the hot favourites in the event having won their heat and semi-finals.

The Australians took the middle lane alongside fellow favourites, Romania, and as the starting light turned green the Romanian duo propelled themselves out at a stroke rate of 38, they were doing all they could to increase their lead over Hargreaves and Wheatley who were in second at the half-way mark.

Romania were still leading by one boat length ahead of Australia at 1500m, despite Australia having the faster times in the qualification rounds and it was Romania’s gutsy race that led them to cross the line in gold despite a valiant effort from the Australians who finished in silver medal position, 1.24 seconds behind the winners.

Post-race, Wheatley said: “It’s probably our best race of the regatta. We gave everything we had, we are a little disappointed not to get gold, but the Romanians were really strong. We’ll go back to training in Varese now at the AIS ETC ahead of travelling to Aiguebelette for the World Rowing Championships and Olympic qualifiers.”

In the U23 Men’s Quadruple Scull, Australia took Lane 5 and were up against an inform Canada, who led the A-Final from the get-go. The Canadians rated hight to hold off the Australian charge from Robert Black, Alexander Purnell, William Mure and Christopher Hayes who were in second at the halfway mark. Meanwhile, Poland and New Zealand crossed the half-way mark nearly level in third and fourth, the two were going to chase each other down to the line, fighting for a spot on the podium.

In the final 500m, Canada increased their margin over Australia and charged for the line and unluckily for Australia they caught a crab in the final strokes and was unable to withstand a powering New Zealand who finished ahead in silver. Post-race Purnell said: “Overall we’re very happy with the race and to walk away with a medal is just great. We really felt we found a good rhythm this week and kept it to the line in the Final today.”

Addy Dunkley-Smith and Katrina Werry snapped up a bronze medal in the A-Final of the U23 Women’s Pair on Saturday in Bulgaria. 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 were 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 honour to be on the podium and to represent our country. Thanks to our support crew here and at home in Australia.”

Also on Saturday, 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.”

Also on Saturday, 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.

Australia featured in four B-Finals over the weekend. Jack Armitage and Hamish Parry competed in the B-Final of the U23 Lightweight Men’s Pair, the Queensland-based duo 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.

On Sunday, the U23 Lightweight Women’s Double Scull, the U23 Lightweight Men’s Single Scull and the U23 Men’s Double Scull all competed in B-Finals.

Australia were the leaders in the B-Final of the lightweight women’s double sculls, with Germany following in a steady second position. With 500m to go, Australia had more than a boat length’s lead over Germany and was rating 35 strokes per minute. Despite a comfortable lead throughout the race, Australia’s Amy James and Holly Lawrence kept their stroke rate high until the line to claim the final position of seventh overall.

In the B-Final of the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull, Jack Kelly finished in third place, while in the U23 Men’s Double Scull of Tom Schramko and Luke Letcher were fourth in their B-Final.