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Kathryn Ross crowned World Champion in Austria

Silver and bronze medals for Australia’s PR3 Men’s Pair and Lightweight Men’s Single Scull

Australia qualifies two more boats for Tokyo 2020

Kathryn Ross made a triumphant return to international competition today with the three-time Paralympian winning gold in the PR2 Women’s Single Scull at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria.

Ross was not the only Australian on the podium today, with Jed Altschwager and William Smith claiming silver in the PR3 Men’s Pair and Sean Murphy winning bronze in the Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls.

World Champion Kathryn Ross (Copyright Rowing Australia)

In addition to today’s World Rowing Championships medals, Australia also booked two more berths for Tokyo 2020. Erik Horrie ensured the Australian Paralympic Team will have a PR1 Men’s Single Scull in Tokyo, while Joshua Hicks and Sam Hardy secured a berth for Australia’s Men’s Pair at the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Men’s and Women’s Double Sculls both finished fourth in their respective semi-finals, in tight races, and will contest the B-Finals on Saturday. Both crews will need a top five finish to book Australia boat berths at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Kathryn Ross continued her dominant performance in the PR2 Women’s Single Scull with the Australian taking a commanding lead from the start. The Paralympian, making her return to the Australian Rowing Team after a three-year hiatus post the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games crossed the line in a time 9 minutes 37 seconds.

It wraps up a great return to the World Rowing Championships for Ross, who also set a World’s Best Time in the event earlier in the week.

“I’m ecstatic, all the hard work has paid off. Not once did my coach (Renae Domaschenz) not think it was possible – she believed in me and got me to where I am today. It’s great being in the World Championships environment, it’s amazing how much I’ve missed it, the excitement, the adrenalin and all the wonderful people that run events like this one.

“I love being part of the Australian Rowing Team, we’re one big family and we all support each other – it doesn’t matter what boat class you’re in, everyone’s behind you all the way,” said Ross.

Making his senior Australian Rowing Team debut at these World Rowing Championships, Sean Murphy, was in the leading pack of the A-Final of the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull. It was Italy who took the early lead, leaving Murphy to battle it out with Hungary’s Peter Galambos. At the halfway mark, Murphy edged into the lead, but Galambos surged ahead as the duo crossed the 1500 metre marker.

Sean Murphy and Peter Galambos (Copyright Rowing Australia)

Murphy, who was the 2017 Under 23 World Rowing Championships bronze medalist in the same boat class, put in a valiant sprint at the line, but it was Martino Goretti of Italy who took gold, Galambos silver and the Australian bronze.

“I’m delighted, I didn’t think after a bronze medal at Under 23s last year that I’d be able to progress that much this season. I’ve been lucky to have good coaches all the way and it was easy because I was having fun and this is just the cherry on the top.

“I was really just trying to get off cleanly and efficiently and by the second and third five hundred I really pushed on and I think Peter and I were in the mix with that final push on the Italian. I burnt a lot trying to get into that bronze medal position so I’m really happy,” said Murphy.

Jed Altschwager was in Australia’s PR3 Men’s Pair that won silver in 2018. This year the South Australian was joined by Australian Rowing Team debutant, William Smith, and the duo were taking on the reigning World Champions from Canada who sat in the lane next to them.

At the halfway mark it was tight between Canada, Australia and France. The leading group moved away from the pack, Altschwager and Smith edging into the lead, before Canada made a second push. As the crews approached the line, both Australia and Canada went to 35 strokes per minute, but it was Canada who took gold for a second year in a row, with Australia picking up silver and France bronze.

“It’s been an amazing experience for me, it was pretty daunting coming into my first senior team, but with a good support staff and team around me it’s been a really easy transition into this level of competition, I’m really grateful to be here and stoked to have won a medal,” said Smith.

Will Smith and Jed Altschwager

“The goal from here, and big picture, is now about selection next year, with Jed and I both wanting to get into the PR3 Mixed Four for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Coming off the back of this World Championships, we’ll have a little break, reset and have a clear mind and focus on 2020,” he added.

Five-time World Champion Erik Horrie booked himself a spot in Sunday’s A-Final of the PR1 Men’s Single Scull and in turn booked Australia a berth at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. The Australian led the semi-final for the majority of the race, before crossing the line in second to progress to the weekend’s A-Final.

Australia’s Men’s Pair of Joshua Hicks and Sam Hardy finished second in the semi-final to secure a spot in the A-Final. The crew had an incredibly tight race with New Zealand and France, crossing the line 0.44 of a second behind New Zealand who claimed the top spot. The Australians in turn booked the Men’s Pair a berth for the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Men’s Double Scull of Caleb Antill and David Bartholot put in a spirited effort in their A/B semi-final, the duo sprinted in the final 500 metres, but crossed the line in fourth place. Meanwhile, their female counterparts of Amanda Bateman and Genevieve Horton (Women’s Double Scull) were just nudged out of third place by the USA by 0.61 of a second, in their semi-final, crossing the line in fourth. Both crews will contest B-Finals on Sunday.

Alice Arch won her B-Final in the Lightweight Women’s Single Scull to finish seventh in the world.

Saturday 31 August will see Australia compete in three B-Finals (LM2x, LW2x, W4x) and six A-Finals (W2-, M2-, PR3 Mix 4+, M4-, W4- and M4x) with race times available here.