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Four crews prepare for final showdown

Final Olympic Qualification Regatta begins 22 May in Lucerne, Switzerland;

Australian Rowing Team prepares to compete at World Rowing Cup 2

Four Australian Rowing Team crews will compete this week at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, in Lucerne, Switzerland, in a bid to secure four more boat-berths for Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Australia’s Men’s Eight, Women’s Eight, Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls and Men’s Single Sculls will all be aiming to book a berth for the Olympic regatta which commences on 6 August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The two Eights and the Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls must finish top two in their finals to qualify their boats, while the Men’s Single must finish top three to qualify for the Games.

The Men’s Single Sculls has attracted the largest field of scullers, with 17 countries hoping to qualify for Rio. Australia’s Rhys Grant was based in Canberra prior to his departure for Europe and, alongside the rest of the Australian Rowing Team, has been based at the AIS European Training Centre, in Italy, in the lead-up to the event in Switzerland.

With such a big field for the Men’s Singles, Grant will compete in one of the three heats on the opening day (22 May), while there are repechages and semi-finals to be contested before the finals on Sunday at 16:10 Local Time (00:10 AEST).

The Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls, in which Hannah Every-Hall and Georgia Nesbitt will compete against crews from Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland and Sweden. The highly experienced Every-Hall, alongside young-gun Nesbitt, will begin with heats on Sunday 22 May with finals scheduled for Tuesday 24 May at 16:20 local time (00:20 AEST).

In the case of the Men’s Eight entries, Australia will compete against Spain, Italy, Poland and the United States. The crew of Stuart Sim, Charles Risbey, James Medway, Scott Laidler, Nick Purnell, Josh Hicks, Tim Masters, Fergus Pragnell and James Chapman will take part in a race for lanes on Sunday before taking part in the finals which are scheduled for 18:10 local time on Tuesday 24 May (02:10 AEST – Wednesday).

Australia’s Women’s Eight of Sarah Banting, Olympia Aldersey, Lucy Stephan, Charlotte Sutherland, Molly Goodman, Meaghan Volker, Alexandra Hagan, Jessica Morrison and Fiona Albert also need to finish in the top two of their final to book a spot for the boat in Rio. The entries in their boat class include China, Germany, Netherlands and Romania and all the countries have a strong tradition in the event which will no doubt lead to some exciting racing.

The Women’s Eight will also compete in a race for lanes on Sunday at 13:16 Local Time (21:16 AEST) while the final is scheduled for 18:00 Local Time on Tuesday 24 May (02:00 AEST on Wednesday 25 May).

Rowing Australia General Manager – Sport, Jaime Fernandez said: “All the crews have been preparing well ahead of the regatta here in Lucerne. The four crews competing at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta settled comfortably into the training environment at the AIS European Training Centre before we travelled to Switzerland. There has been an excellent level of collegiality, common purpose and collaboration against athletes, coaches and staff alike, this has contributed to a solid platform from which to launch from next week.

“There is a good mixture of youth and experience amongst our crews and we’re hopeful that this translates into some strong performances on the water.”

At the conclusion of the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, World Rowing Cup 2 will begin in Lucerne, Switzerland. The event, which runs from 27-29 May, will see seven Australian crews confirmed to compete at the event, with additional crews potentially being added post the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.

Reigning World Champion, Kim Brennan, will have her first major international hit-out of the season in the Women’s Single Sculls. There are 19 entries in the boat class, with an interesting omission being 2014 World Champion, New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, however 2012 Olympic gold medallist, Mirka Knapkova, is entered and will no doubt be keen to take on Brennan.

The Men’s Four entries total 10, with Australia’s crew of Alex Hill, Joshua Booth, Joshua Dunkley-Smith and Will Lockwood up against some of the key performers in this boat class, including Great Britain, Netherlands and the USA. The Men’s Pair of Alex Lloyd and Spencer Turrin will be looking for good racing in their first appearance as an international pair and are amongst a field of 18, including World Champions, New Zealand.

The Women’s Double of Gen Horton and Sally Kehoe are in a field of 10, while their male equivalents, David Watts and Chris Morgan, will be up against a field of 15 entries, including World Champions, the Sinkovic brothers from Croatia.

The Men’s and Women’s Quadruple Sculls are also in from some exciting racing. The women’s crew of Jess Hall, Jennifer Cleary, Kerry Hore and Maddie Edmunds will face off to seven other crews for their first international hit out, including 2015 World Champions USA.

The Men’s Quadruple Scull of Karsten Forsterling, Sasha Belonogoff, Cameron Girdlestone and James McRae are amongst a field of 12 entries. Girdlestone and Forsterling were part of the 2015 World Championships crew that won a silver medal, just behind Germany. The Germans will be in Lucerne, themselves also with a slightly different looking crew, so no doubt Australia will be keen to pit themselves against their rivals for the first time this season.

World Rowing will provide a ‘Live Tracker’ for the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta via it’s website: www.worldrowing.com

For World Rowing Cup 2, the Olympic boat class finals will be live-streamed on World Rowing’s website, while Fox Sports Australia are also due to broadcast the finals. Please check your local TV Guide for further information.