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Bronzed Aussies the highlight on first day of finals in Rotterdam

Another hot day dawned in Rotterdam with more excellent conditions greeting athletes on the water; conditions which culminated in the Australian team picking up their first medal of the regatta.

First up in the morning was the repechage of the Junior Men’s Coxed Four, and requiring a top two finish to progress through to the A-Final the Sarah Cook coached crew jumped out of the blocks and held the lead through to the 1500m.  The Serbian crew pushed them all the way however and although just pipped past the NSW athletes for first both crews will progress to the A-Final on Sunday.

The B-Finals of the Under 23 events completed the morning session with both the Under 23 Lightweight Men’s Quad and Under 23 Men’s Eight battling for final rankings.  The Lightweight Quad fought out a very close race with only three seconds separating second place to fifth place.  As the dust settled after the drive to the line the Australian’s were judged in fourth, and tenth place in the overall rankings.  Similarly the Men’s Eight came out fighting, and in a much improved race from the semi-final defeated their rivals from Russia and the USA to finish second, and eight in the overall rankings.

After lunch Georgia Nesbitt returned in the Lightweight Women’s Single semi-final, and sadly it wasn’t to be her day – even though a fight back was staged after placing sixth through 1000m she could only come back to fifth and will contest the B-Final on Saturday.

The first medal races of the regatta followed, with the Under 23 Men’s Coxed Four racing first for Australia.  After comfortably winning their heat on the first day of competition the crew of Jack Cleary, Texas Lawton, Sam Hardy, Henry Youl and Louis Copolov, coached by Zoltan Shepherd, went into the race as one of the favourites.  They showed this was a worthy tag as they lay down the gauntlet to all other crews with a slender lead for the first three quarters of the race.  Both the Italian and New Zealand crews were not to be denied at the end however, and with a finish that had the crowd in the grandstand on their feat all three crews swept to the line with the Aussies desperately trying to hold their lead.  In the end New Zealand emerged as the victors, less than a second ahead of Italy with Australia just 0.6 seconds behind.  A well deserved bronze medal was won as most of the crew looking ahead now to their US College season.

The Under 23 Women’s Quad rounded out the day for Australia, and the crew of Tessa Carty, Rowena Meredith, Caitlin Cronin, Bridget Badenoch and Ben Southwell were looking to replicate the silver won in this boat class in 2015.  A medal looked in reach after going through the 500m in fourth just over a second behind Germany in third, however a tough campaign looked to have caught up with them and they faded towards the end of the 2000m to finish ranked sixth in the world.

Day 6 of competition will see repechages and quarter-finals of Junior events with the first Australian in action being Harriet Hudson in the repechage of the Junior Women’s Single Scull at 6.00pm AEST.  This will be followed in the afternoon by the gold medal A-Finals for the Under 23 Women’s Single, Under 23 Lightweight Women’s Double, Under 23 Men’s Quad and Under 23 Women’s Eight.  All lane draws and race schedules are on the World Rowing website, including live streaming of all racing – http://www.worldrowing.com/.