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Two gold medals for Australia on final day of World Rowing Cup 3

Five medals from six A-Finals; Australia finishes fourth overall at World Cup 3

The Australian Rowing Team closed off the World Rowing Cup season with five medals today (Sunday) at World Rowing Cup 3 in Poznan, Poland. The final day of racing, saw Australian crews claim two gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal, this was in addition to the para-rowing silver and bronze medals the team won yesterday in Poland.

Australia’s gold medals came from Women’s Single Sculler, and reigning World Champion, Kim Brennan and the Men’s Quadruple Sculls of James McRae, Cameron Girdlestone, Sasha Belonogoff and Karsten Forsterling.  The Men’s Pair, Women’s Quadruple Sculls and TA Mixed Double Sculls won silver medals, while the bronze medals were claimed by the Men’s Four and the AS Men’s Single Sculls.

By virtue of winning seven medals at the event, Australia finished fourth on the medal table at World Rowing Cup 3, and sixth overall in the final World Rowing Cup standings. [Note: Australia only competed in two out of the three World Rowing Cups.]

General Manager – Sport, Jaime Fernandez said: “Our crews put in some fine performances across the weekend, including our para-rowers who were making their first international appearances this season.

“No doubt they will all gain further motivation from this weekend’s performances, having, for many, consolidated on their previous World Cup results in Lucerne. Now it is about continuing to identify where the opportunities lie and turning our attention to the  final critical block of training ahead of Rio.”

In one of the most hotly anticipated races of the World Cup season, the 2015 World Champion in the Women’s Single Sculls, Kim Brennan of Australia, took on the 2014 World Rowing Champion, New Zealand’s Emma Twigg.  Joining Twigg and Brennan in the A-Final was Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and Denmark.

This was the first time Brennan and Twigg has raced since 2014 and both scullers had won their respective semi-finals and were drawn alongside each other. At the 500 metre mark, Brennan had already stamped her authority to take the lead. Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen followed the closest in second with Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands in third.

As they crossed the halfway mark, Brennan held the lead, with Twigg beginning to make her move through the closely packed field. However, as the crews pushed into the third 500 metres, Brennan kicked down to give herself a clear water advantage, an advantage she didn’t relinquish as she crossed the line in a time of 7.15, with Twigg in second and Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin in third.

Post-race Brennan, who is coached by Lyall McCarthy, commented: “I went into this race without any expectations because it has been a while since I have raced Erichsen and Twigg. This is just one of the steps towards Rio, no one is going to play their cards here.”

The Men’s Quadruple Sculls backed up their fine performance in the heats earlier in the week by winning gold in their race in Poznan. The crew were the fastest qualifiers alongside Germany and therefore began in the middle two lanes. By the halfway mark, Australia had taken the lead and were pulling away from the pack, leaving Germany and Poland to battle it out for second and third place.

At the close, it was Australia who wrapped up the win with a strong and composed race and in the process of winning gold also won the World Rowing Cup series for the boat class, having won back-to-back gold medals.

Belonogoff said post-race: “It was a good race for us given that it is only our second international race since we formed this combination. We have seven more weeks of training coming up in Italy and we don’t feel like we’ve had our best race yet.”

The first Australian crew to take to the water in an A-Final on the last day of World Rowing Cup 3, was the Men’s Pair partnership of Alex Lloyd and Spencer Turrin. The Sydney Rowing Club duo, who finished fifth in World Rowing Cup 2 in Lucerne last month, were drawn in Lane Five and faced stiff competition from reigning Olympic and World Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand.

The Australians fired out the start, in a tight field where only a couple of seconds separated the entire field with 500 metres rowed. By the halfway point, Murray and Bond had edged out in front, while Great Britain’s Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes were battling with Turrin and Lloyd for second and third place.

As they approached the final 500 metres, New Zealand had the lead but the true fight for medals was between Australia and Great Britain’s two crews. A big sprint to the line, saw the Australian pair snap up a silver medal and Sinclair and Innes in third.

Post-race, Lloyd said: “We really wanted to get our rhythm bedded down the first 1000m and make our move in the second. We knew the Kiwis were too far away, but we were happy to push through the field and may a play for second place.”

The Men’s Four of Alex Hill, Joshua Booth, Joshua Dunkley-Smith and Will Lockwood were the second fastest at the start of their A-Final, after Olympic champions, Great Britain, while 2015 World Champions, Italy were in third.

Through the middle of the race Great Britain and Australia began to push away from the remainder of the field, while Italy sat back in third. As the crews hit the 1500m mark, the British had pushed ahead of the pack to take a clear water advantage, and ultimately gold, while Australia continued to sprint, with Italy hot on their heels. The Italians surged in the final few metres, upping their rating, and pipped Australia to the line to take the silver, while Australia took bronze.

Post-race, the stroke of the boat, Hill said: “We tried attacking the Brits in the last 500m. But we also know that Italy has a pretty fast sprint, so we are just very happy that we managed to stay in a medal-winning position and take bronze After this weekend, we will have to work more on our start and continue the work that we’ve been doing already.”

The Women’s Quadruple Sculls of Maddie Edmunds, Jennifer Cleary, Kerry Hore and Jessica Hall, finished third in their preliminary race yesterday and were up against just four crews in their A-Final. Taking on Germany, the Netherlands and hosts Poland, the Dutch were the fastest out but it was Germany who took the lead, with Poland and Australia in hot pursuit.

As they approached the 1500m mark the Germans pushed out again but Australia’s Quad responded and remained with the leaders. Edmunds began to wind up the rate, with the Australians sprinting for the line and putting the pressure on the Germans, while the Dutch were nipping at the heels of the Poles. It was so close as they reached the line, that is was a photo finish between Germany and Australia, with Australia being crowned silver medallists.

Bow-seat, Jess Hall, commented: “The plan was to stick it to them early so that we would be at a good place later down the course. In the end, it was about maintaining our focus in our boat and going for it.”

Having won their heat to progress straight to the A-Final, Genevieve Horton and Sally Kehoe, were drawn in Lane 5 in the final of the Women’s Double Sculls, taking on France, Poland, Belarus, Great Britain and reigning World Champions, New Zealand.

Kehoe and Horton got away with the highest stroke rate and hit the first 500 metre marker the quickest, but the hometown favorites, Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj was moving with Australia and doing their best to push into the lead.

As the Poles took the lead, World Champions New Zealand began to make their way through the pack and put pressure on the Australians, while the French were also moving up. With 500 metres to go, the Australians had been passed by New Zealand and France who took silver and bronze, while the Australians slipped back to finish sixth overall.

In the B-Final of the Men’s Double Sculls, David Watts and Chris Morgan featured in a four-boat race against Cuba, China and The Netherlands. Cuba shot out at the start, with the Dutch and Australians quick out the blocks too. The Cubans and Australians tussled in the middle of the race but the Cubans pulled ahead to take the win, while the Australian crew finished second and the Dutch were third.

In the B-Finals of the Men’s Pair, reserve pair James Medway and Joshua Hicks were drawn in Lane 6, alongside Germany’s two crews, Romania, Hungary and the New Zealand second pair.

The two Harvard graduates paced themselves well through the race and while Romania took the lead for the first half, the Australian pair looked to make their move at the 1500 metre point. The Australians had pulled into first place, however with the finish line in sight, it was Germany’s second crew, along with New Zealand’s, that made the surge in the last 250m to take first and second, with Australia in third.

The day before, Australia’s para-rowers, Erik Horrie, Kathryn Ross and Gavin Bellis has won bronze and silver medals respectively. To read coverage of their races, click here.