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U23 Men’s Four crowned World Champions in Bulgaria

U23 Men’s Four crowned World Champions in Bulgaria

U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull and Women’s Pair snap up silver medals

Australia’s U23 Men’s Four were crowned World Champions over the weekend in Plovdiv, while the U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull and the U23 Women’s Pair both picked up silver medals in their respective A-Finals.

Elsewhere in the other A-Finals over the weekend, Australia’s U23 Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull finished sixth, the U23 Men’s Coxed Four wrapped up their regatta in fifth place and Caleb Antill finished in sixth in the U23 Men’s Single Scull. The U23 Women’s Four finished second in their B-Final.

Deputy Performance Director, Jaime Fernandez said: “It is extremely pleasing to see Australia finish this World Rowing U23 Championships with a World Championship winning crew, two silver medallists and six out of the seven crews making A-Finals at the regatta.

“Congratulations to all the team, including the coaches, support staff and all those associated with the respective athletes, all of whom worked so diligently with our crews not only during their international preparation but also throughout the season in preparation for this regatta.

“Our Pathways Team, including Head Coach Lyall McCarthy, Sports Science Lead Dr Tony Rice and Pathways coordinator Naomi Wagstaff have worked hard with our state-based pathway partners, including clubs, State Institutes and Academies of Sport and our Member Associations to ensure we had the best possible team competing in Bulgaria.”

The U23 Men’s Four sat next to the reigning World Champions in the boat class, Austria, at the start of their final. As the crews all reached the 500 metre mark, Australia, coached by Antonio Maurogiovanni, had taken the lead with Great Britain and Austria hot on their heels.

The crew of Robert Black, Harley Moore, Liam Donald and Adam Bakker now pushed away and going through the middle marker upped their stroke rate to 40 to push away from the rest of the field and take a clear water advantage over Great Britain and Austria. Coming into the final 250 metres, Australia had a three-second lead on the British and rating 38 as they crossed the line to be crowned the new U23 World Champions.

Black, who in 2016 was crowned World Champion in the U23 Men’s Quadruple Scull, picks up his second U23 World Championship gold medal in what will be his, along with Donald’s and Moore’s, final year in the age category. Post-race he said: “We had a perfect race, it went completely to plan. We had rehearsed our plan throughout our campaign and I am proud of all the hard work.

“Today (Saturday) was the reward for all that we have done, it wasn’t won today – it was won over the last three months.”

Team debutants, Bronwyn Cox and Annabelle McIntyre, picked up silver on Saturday in a spectacular race in the U23 Women’s Pair. Romania, USA, Chile and Australia all fired out the start, with Chileans and Americans pushing into the leading two spots for the majority of the race. However, as the crews reached the 1250 mark, the Romanians dropped out of contention leaving Australia and Denmark to battle it out for third place.

Bronwyn Cox and Annabelle McIntyre with their silver medals (Image Copyright RA)

As the crews reached the red buoys, McIntyre and Cox made an impressive sprint to the line, passing two crews in the process. Capitilizing on the mishap of the Danish crew that had caught a crab, the Australians put in a gutsy performance to not only steam past the Danes to go into third but then also the USA who had begun to tire. With the final push, the Australian duo surged past the Americans and snapped up a well-earned silver medal behind victors Chile.

Post-race, West Australian Cox admitted the crew took advantage of the Danish mishap to pick up silver: “We weren’t really sure what would happen today (Saturday), but stuff like that (catching a crab) can happen. As soon as I saw it, I shouted to Annabelle ‘GO’, and we pretty much ditched the technique and went for it!”

The U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull were facing stiff competition in their final from Great Britain and Germany who were firm favourites for medals in Saturday’s A-Final. Caitlin Cronin, Rowena Meredith, Genevieve Horton and Harriet Hudson had a good start as temperatures were reaching 34 degrees.

The British were quick off the mark to show their cards and powered into the lead and as the crews reached the 1250 mark had a clear water advantage, leaving Australia and Germany to battle it out for silver and bronze. The Australians wound up their stroke rate and put in a cracking sprint to the line to take silver over Germany who had to make do with bronze.

The U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull medallists, including Australia with a silver medal (Image copyright Rowing Australia)

Post-race, Meredith, who is a two-time U23 silver medallist in the Women’s Quadruple Scull admitted the crew had only had a short lead in period together, with Cronin, Horton and Meredith all racing also in the Senior Australian Rowing Team this season. “I don’t think we could have done much more today (Saturday). We had 10 days together as a whole crew in this new line-up. It’s very different racing here with the water, it’s very fast and there is a little tail wind as well which makes for fast conditions,” she said.

The U23 Men’s Coxed Four were the first Australians to race an A-Final on Saturday in Plovdiv. The crew of Henry Youl, Sam Hardy, Andrew Judge, Sam Marsh and coxswain Georgia Litt were drawn in Lane 2, next to race favourites USA and Italy. Coming out stroking 43, The first 1000m metres of the race saw Australia yo-yo the lead with USA and Italy, but it was favourites Italy who powered forward as they reached the 1250 marker and took a clear water advantage.

The battle then ensued between Australia, USA, Great Britain and Romania for the remaining two medals, with the British muscling past the USA to take silver, while USA took bronze and Australia were consigned to fifth place.

The U23 Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull of Wallis Russell, Verayna Zilm, Georgina Masters and Madeleine Williams showed their cards earlier firing out the start alongside race favourites Italy and the Netherlands.

It was a lightning-quick race, with the Italians showing their mettle early and taking a clear water advantage, leaving the remaining crews to battle it out for the silver and bronze. As the race progressed, the Australians slipped back into fifth and the young crew battled it out with Great Britain, however as they crossed the line the Australian debutants found themselves in sixth place.

Antill, who raced in the U23 Men’s Single Scull final on Sunday, faced stiff competition in his A-Final from Canada’s in-form Trevor Jones as well as Kyle Schoonbee from South Africa. Coming out quick at the start, it was in fact Romania who took the lead, while Antill sat back in the pack at fourth waiting to make his move.

Unfortunately, as the race unfolded, Canada and South Africa pushed into the lead, leaving Antill to drop back in the race, with the Canberra sculler ultimately crossing the line in sixth place.

In hot conditions, Enache led for the first half of the race but as they passed the 1500m marker, Schoonbee has muscled into the lead and Antill surged past the Romanian to snap up second. As they crossed the line the order remained the same with all three booking a place in tomorrow’s (Sunday) A-Final.

The U23 Women’s Four of Rafaela Stalph, Elise Franetic, India Dempsey and Amanda Bateman finished second in their B-Final. This sees the crew finish the event ranked eighth in the world following the event’s results.

* Please note this report was updated on Sunday 23 July, post Caleb Antill’s A-Final to include further quotes and more information.