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Two more Australian crews qualify into A-Finals and book Rio berths

Crow, Belonogoff and McRae secure Australia two Olympic boat spots

The Australian Rowing Team qualified more boats for Rio de Janeiro today when Kim Crow, in the Women’s Single Scull, and Alexander Belongoff and James McRae in the Men’s Double Scull, secured spots in their respective A-Finals and in turn booked berths for their boat classes at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Crow, competing in the semi-final of the Women’s Single Scull continued to dominate as she has done in this World Rowing Championships with the Canberra-based sculler leading her race from start to finish. Crow will now face off to the 2012 Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic in Sunday’s A-Final. Joining Knapkova and Crow will be scullers from China, USA, Switzerland and Canada.

In the Men’s Double Scull semi-final, Belonogoff and McRae were up against the reigning World Champions from Croatia, the Sinkovic brothers. Needing a top three finish to make the A-Final and secure a place for their boat in Rio de Janeiro the crew, coached by Rhett Ayliffe, paced themselves to ensure they had plenty of gas left in the tank to power through the second half of the race.

Sitting in third at the halfway mark, the Croatians were in the lead and the Australians began to make their move from third and in the process chasing down New Zealand’s Robert Manon and Chris Harris. Belonogoff and McRae dug deep and in the final 500 metres usurped the Kiwis to take second and in doing so booked a place for the A-Finals on Sunday.

“There is certainly an element of relief associated with qualifying the boat, as this is my first Olympic qualification regatta I was pretty excited after the race. Jimmy and I have a tendency to build through the regattas we compete at and each races is better than the one before, so we are looking forward to the final and to take another step up on today’s performance,” said Belonogoff.

“The course is beautiful here and we enjoyed racing here last year at World Cup II. It’s turned it on again and the quality of the competition at this type of regatta has noticeably stepped up when everyone going for Olympic selection. It definitely makes for exciting and close races,” he added.

The Women’s Double Scull of Sally Kehoe and Olympia Aldersey needed a top three finish in their semi-final to book a place in the A-Final today. Needing a top three finish, Kehoe and Aldersey shot out of the start alongside Greece, Poland, Germany and Belarus and there was little separating the crews in the first 500 metres.

However, by the halfway mark the Greeks and Poles had taken the lead and continued to dominate the semi-final, with Germany and Belarus battling it out for the third place. Kehoe and Aldersey dug deep but it was too late and they finished in fifth overall and go into the B-Final.

The Australian Women’s Double still have a chance to book Australia a spot for this boat class in Rio de Janeiro next year. The crew, coached by Jason Lane, need a top five finish in the B-Final on Sunday to qualify the Women’s Double Scull a berth in Rio.

The Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull were aiming to replicate, if not better, their 2014 World Rowing Championships silver medal when they took the water in the A-Final of the 2015 event. Up against China, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and USA.

The crew coached by Ellen Randell stormed out of the start alongside Germany and were sitting in second at the halfway mark, half a boat length behind leaders Germany. The British and Dutch however had conserved their energy to make their moves in the second half of the race.

At the 1500 metre mark the British moved through the Australians to take second, while the 2014 World Champions, The Netherlands, gave it one last push in the final 500 metres to take the bronze medal while Australia finished fourth overall.

The Lightweight Men’s Pair were up against an inform Great Britain in their A-Final. Darryn Purcell and Nick Silcox powered out hard but it was Great Britain who took the early lead and maintained it throughout. The Australians were fourth at the halfway mark however the British, French and Germans proved to be the top three crews, while Australia dropped back to sixth at the conclusion of the race.

The B-Finals started the day in sunshine with a few clouds drifting over the surrounding mountains giving an ethereal feel to Lac d’Aiguebelette. First up for Australia was young Georgia Nesbitt in the Lightweight Women’s Single Scull B-Final, the 23-year-old from Tasmania had a tough B-Final up against an inform Lithuania and Austria. Ellen Randell’s young sculler put in a stoic effort to finish second and thus is ranked eighth in the world now.

The Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Scull came out of the gates in the B-Final with all guns blazing ready to win their race against Hong Kong, Hungary and Russia and that is exactly what they did. Jonothan Hookway, Tom Perry, Ed de Carvalho and James Wilson led their race from start to finish to conclude their regatta ranked seventh in the world.

In the D-Final of the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull, Tim McDonnell finished fifth while in the D-Final of the Lightweight Women’s Double Scull Ella Flecker and Alice McNamara finished in second.