Golden 20 minutes sees Australia’s win back-to-back gold medals; Men’s Four win World Championships for the first time in 26 years
Australia’s Men’s and Women’s Fours were crowned World Champions today at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida. The Men’s Four ended a 26-year drought by winning Australia’s first World Championships in the boat class since 1991, while the Women’s Four have claimed the first World Championship title of their boat class since it was added to the Olympic program earlier this year.
The Men’s Four started Australia’s golden morning in Sarasota, taking on reigning World and Olympic Champions Great Britain, as well as an in-form Italy in what was to be one of the top races of the day. Australia flew out of the start; rating at 43 strokes per minute with 500 metres gone and put themselves well at the front of the pack as the race progressed.
Taking a clear water advantage over Italy and Great Britain, their closest rivals, the crew stroked by Alexander Hill were the fastest boat on the water. As Hill, with Jack Hargreaves, Spencer Turrin and Joshua Hicks upped the rating to go for the line, the Italians followed suit but they had run out of water, Australia had crossed the line in first to claim gold.
“It means a hell of a lot to be crowned a World Champion. I came pretty close to winning an U23 World Championship and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that we have won, it’s amazing,” admitted Jack Hargreaves.
An emotional Spencer Turrin said post-race: ““It means heaps to me, I’ve been trying for a long time to try and win something so this feels really good. To get something back after last year’s disappointing result in the Men’s Pair in Rio, this feels really good.
“It’s been the best year of rowing I have had in terms of the vibe around the place [the National Training Centre]. It has been a really enjoyable year and to have been able to do something that nobody has been able to do since 1991 is really good,” said Turrin who was born the same year that Australia last won a Men’s Four World Championship.
2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist in the Men’s Four, Alexander Hill, admitted the crew’s win would not have happened without the support of Men’s Head Coach, Ian Wright.
“I’ve had a fair few second places so it feels great to have won gold. This group of guys have made it easy for me this year as you know they’ll turn up to training and give it their all, you know what you’re going to expect from them. With that comes consistency and with a new coach in Ian, it has been absolutely unbelievable for us.
“We back him to the hilt and we believe in everything he says, as a crew and team we have full buy in which makes it easy to do what you have to do for the team,” admitted Hill.
The Women’s Four have not lost a race this season and today was to be no different for the crew of Molly Goodman, Sarah Hawe, Katrina Werry and Lucy Stephan. The Netherlands had other plans in mind and were the fastest out of the start in the final, leading over the USA, while Australia sat back in fifth place as the crews crossed the 500-metre marker.
Australia are known for making their move in the second half of their races and began to push on the Dutch and were joined by Poland and Russia who were all challenging for the podium. In the final sprint, Stephan called to Goodman to up the rating and the crew responded, upping to 43, with Australia surging into the lead to claim gold, followed by Poland and Russia.
Sarah Hawe last represented Australia in 2005 in the Junior Australian Rowing Team and the Tasmanian was delighted to walk away with her first Senior World Championship title. “It’s incredible to have won today. You get that sniff of international competition as a junior and then I had a big break away but I always had that urge in the back of my head to keep rowing and sort of knew I had the goods to do it, so now it feels good to show everyone that it can be done,” said the 30-year-old.
The youngest athlete in the crew, Katrina Werry, admitted the crew remained focused on their race alone and not on what was going on around them.
“It was such an amazing race, we stuck to our roles and just stayed internal to the boat, we weren’t panicked at all. We knew we had to do what we do best and while our legs were tired we knew we had enough and we trusted the training, and everything we have done in the last six months, to come through for each other and we did just that,” said Werry.
Lucy Stephan added that today’s win was a great base for Australia’s women sweep rowers to grow on. “It’s pretty amazing, I’m still in shock. I knew we could do it but it really is an amazing feeling. It now up to us to keep building on the base we’ve created. This win has provided a great opportunity for women’s sweep moving forward and it’s really exciting,” said the Victorian-born athlete.
The Women’s Quadruple Scull, all four of whom have won U23 silver medals in the boat class, took on USA, Great Britain, Netherlands, Poland and Germany. The young crew took on a tightly packed field and were fourth at the halfway mark with Poland in the lead followed by The Netherlands. As the crews sprinted for the line, Australia had dropped back in the field with the crew, featuring three senior team debutantes, finishing in sixth.
Australia currently sits second on the World Rowing Championships medal table, behind Italy, with two more A-Finals to come tomorrow. Defending World Champion in the PR1 Men’s Single Scull, Erik Horrie, will race tomorrow morning followed by Madeleine Edmunds and Olympia Aldersey in the Women’s Double Scull.
Australian Rowing Team Finals at 2017 World Rowing Championships – 1 October 1, 2017
B-Final – Men’s Eight – 09:25 local time (00:25 AEST)
A-Final – PR1 Men’s Single Scull – 09:53 local time (00:53 AEST)
A-Final – Women’s Double Scull – 10:27 local time (01:27 AEST)