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Cormac wins rowing bronze at packed Puerto Madero

BUENOS AIRES 2018: Rower Cormac Kennedy-Leverett has won bronze for Australia in the 500m single sculls at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics at a packed Puerto Madero on Wedneday.

The 18-year-old flashed home in 1.33.84 behind winner Ukrainian Ivan Tyshchenko and Belarussian Ivan Bryzna in the A-Final.

The Queensland rower was ecstatic at claiming a medal at his first Olympic experience.

“I’m really happy with that performance, I raced some awesome guys,” Kennedy-Leverett said.

“I put an emphasis on enjoying the process of putting my best down each time and trying to make sure I come away from this event happy, and I really am.”

Tyshchenko was never headed after a phenomenal start.

“He was incredible out of the blocks,” Kennedy-Leverett said. “I looked up and he was gone – I’ve never seen speed like that off the blocks.

“I’ve got to know the guys we were racing through living in the Village and they’re awesome. It’s great to know who you’re racing, it makes it a great culture to race in.”

The Buenos Aires rowing competition provided a unique racing and spectator experience, with the traditional 2000 metre course replaced with a 500 metre sprint, and a packed Puente de la Mujer bridge with 150m to go providing a raucous atmosphere for the rowers.

“There’s nothing like rowing under a bridge with spectators three metres above your head screaming for you,” Kennedy-Leverett continued.

“To be honest it was pretty daunting to begin with, but I really got around that atmosphere – it’s like you’ve got your country standing above you. Having them that close, there’s nothing like it, it’s awesome.

“It’s new ground for rowing to be heading into 500m sprints – it’s something totally new, less predictable, a real drag race rather than the tactical race over 2000 metres. It brings a lot of excitement.”

“It also brings in spectators a bit better than, as spectators normally only see the last 250 of a 2000 metres race whereas we’ve got people watching the whole 500 here.”

Teammate Taylor McCarthy-Smith, on the riverbank preparing for her semi-final race at the time, was exhilarated to see Kennedy-Leverett claim bronze.

“It was so intense, I got goosebumps,” she said. “It was so exciting being able to cheer for a teammate and good friend of mine. I was jumping up and down, it was awesome.

“The crowds were insane, the noise level as the rowers go under the bridge is so loud and you can hear the Aussie supporters.”

McCarthy-Smith missed out on the A-final after placing third in her semi, but commandingly won her B-final to finish fifth overall in 1.46.04.

Dom Sullivan
olympics.com.au