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Australia tops medal and points table at World Rowing Cup 2

Four gold, three silver and four bronze medals for Australian Rowing Team in Poland

Women’s Eight, Men’s Four and Men’s Pair take top honours on closing day

The Australian Rowing Team wrapped up its first World Rowing Cup of the season by topping both the medal and points table at World Rowing Cup 2 in Poznan, Poland today (Sunday).

In the history of World Rowing Cups, Australia has never topped the medal table in Europe, while the last time it topped the points table at a World Rowing Cup held in Europe was in 2006, in Poznan. The last time Australia topped both the World Rowing Cup medal and points table at the same time was in 2014 at World Rowing Cup 1 in Sydney.

Sunday’s racing saw the team win gold in the Women’s Eight, Men’s Four and Men’s Pair, silver in the PR1 Men’s Single Scull, Women’s Pair and Men’s Quadruple Scull and bronze in the Women’s Four, Women’s Double Scull and Lightweight Men’s Double Scull. This is in addition to the gold and bronze medals won yesterday by Australia’s Lightweight Men’s and Women’s Single Scullers respectively.

With 12 A-Finals on the cards for Australia, the final day of World Rowing Cup 2 in Poznan, Poland was going to be a busy one, with challenging conditions, including a head wind on Lake Malta.

The new Men’s Pair combination of Alexander Hill and Joshua Booth led their race from start to finish. Coming out fast, the Australians took control of the race, with New Zealand in second and Canada in third. The Australians rated 40 for the majority of the race and moved away from the field and despite a sprint from New Zealand at the line, it was the boys in green and gold who took the win.

“This is our first international race together and we were against a really good field. We managed to get a good lead and then it was just about maintaining the gap. So we’re really happy with the result,” said Hill after receiving his gold medal.

The Australian Men’s Four of Timothy Masters, Nicholas Purnell, Jack Hargreaves and Jack O’Brien, echoed their sweep colleagues from the Men’s Pair by coming out fast and taking an early lead, with Poland hot on their heels.

At the halfway mark, the Australians broke free of the hometown favourites to take a full boat length lead, while Poland, Italy and the USA duked it out for the lower medal positions. Italy then took a lead over Poland as the Australians surged further ahead, when the sprint to the line came it was Australia who took gold in 6 minutes 16 seconds, while Italy took silver and Poland bronze.

Olympian Purnell commented, “We all come from very different rowing backgrounds and were all in very different crews last year, so it’s nice to come together to get such a result. We’re really happy with it.”

Australia’s Women’s Eight took on the reigning World Champions, the United States, in their A-Final. The USA were the ones to beat having had the fastest qualifying time in Friday’s heats, but all the crews had an even start before James Rook called on Molly Goodman to up the stroke rate of the Australian crew to edge them ahead as the cross the 500 metre mark, with Great Britain in second and the USA in third.

The Australian crew began to motor ahead, and at the halfway point were nearly a full boat length ahead of the USA who had begun to creep up and pushed the British into third place. As the crews approached the final 250 metres, Australia surged ahead taking the win at a stroke rate of 39, while the USA took second and Great Britain held off New Zealand take third.

Post-race, Georgie Rowe said, “I enjoyed that race a lot but we really had to dig in when the USA was coming at us. We stayed tight together and it paid off.”

Earlier in the day, Erik Horrie opened the racing for Australia, with the PR1 Men’s Single Sculler taking home a silver medal in his boat class. Horrie’s main competition for the final came in the form of Paralympic champion, Roman Polianskyi of the Ukraine.

In blustery conditions, Horrie came out quickly but it was the Ukrainian who took the early lead with Horrie hot on his heels, while Great Britain’s Benjamin Pritchard rounded off the top group of scullers. As Polianskyi hit the 1500 metre mark he pulled further ahead of Horrie who began to sprint for the line in the head wind. It was Polianskyi who took the gold, while Horrie claimed silver and Pritchard third.

Post-race, Horrie said, I’m over the moon just to be on the podium. I had lots of injuries this year so I was a little in doubt of how I would perform but I’m super happy to come away with a medal. Roman rowed very well so congrats to him!”

The Women’s Pair followed Horrie, with the Australian partnership of Annabelle McIntyre and Jessica Morrison (who doubled up later in the afternoon to race the Women’s Eight) taking on the inform New Zealand partnership of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler. It was New Zealand who showed first, with Australia in hot pursuit, while the United States 1 were in third. New Zealand pulled away from the Australians but Morrison and McIntyre upped their rating to eventually have cross over with their Trans-Tasman rivals, however the Kiwis took the gold and Australia claimed silver.

Western Australian rower, McIntyre, said “It was difficult out there, it was quite rocky. Congratulations to New Zealand, they raced well. The last 500 meters we just tried to lift the race and smoothen out as much as possible as I think we were a bit too tense in the first portion. I’m really happy with the result as it’s our first international race this season.”

The Men’s Quadruple Scull worked their way through the pack to claim a silver medal today on Lake Malta. Poland took the lead early on and didn’t relinquish their hold on the race from start to finish, however the Australian crew of David Watts, Alexander Purnell, Cameron Girdlestone and Caleb Antill held their nerve to pick off Germany, Great Britain and New Zealand to take silver at the line, with New Zealand claiming bronze.

After receiving his medal, Antill commented, “Considering the conditions we knew it was going to be a long race but we decided to keep to what we know and really get that speed in the middle thousand. We had a bit of a slip up in the last thousand but congrats to Poland, that was a great race.”

The young Women’s Double Scull took on an experience field, including the inform New Zealand as well as a new look USA crew that included Rio Olympic medalist (in the single scull) Genevra Stone. Amanda Bateman and Genevieve Horton flew out of the start and took an early lead.

The USA then muscled into the lead, with the Australians going with them, but New Zealand’s crew then upped its rating and overtook both Australia and then USA to take the win from the USA who had to settle for a silver medal and Australia taking bronze.

Racing in her first senior World Rowing Cup, Bateman said post-race, “We raced New Zealand and China already in our Semis heat so to try and anticipate their moves. We expected China to shoot at the start and have a really strong middle thousand.

“We hadn’t raced the USA yet, we just really wanted to focus on our own patterning and stick to our plan. In the last 750 metres, I saw we were in medal contention so we went for it. We’re still in this crew for Rotterdam but selectors will do a review ahead of the World Rowing Championships in August.”

The Women’s Four of Olympia Aldersey, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Lucy Stephan claimed a bronze medal in their A-Final. It was Denmark and China who came out fastest and battled it out to take the gold and silver medal positions, while Australia worked their way through the field to sprint to the line and take bronze from USA 1.

Stroke of the Four, Lucy Stephan said, “It was a really tough race but it’s amazing to see the calibre of athletes now. It’s really grown in the last three years with so many entries. Our plan today was to be adaptable and work well together. We will now go to a training camp in Varese and prepare for World Rowing Cup 3 in Rotterdam.”

The Lightweight Men’s Double Scull of Hamish Parry and Leon Chambers won Australia’s first bronze medal in the boat class, at a World Rowing Cup, since 2014. While the race was won by Germany, with Italy in second, with the new Australian combination paced their race well to have a strong final 500 metre sprint to overtake Canada and claim bronze.

Parry said, “To be honest I’m just very excited to be here, even in the warm-up I was getting excited. We’ve been really training hard and we did well in tricky conditions today. We’ll be back here on the water on Monday before our flight to Varese. I’m very grateful to have a strong partner, in Leon.”

The Men’s Double Scull of Hamish Playfair and Campbell Watts had a strong start in their A-Final but finished in fifth after Switzerland took the victory after a sprint to the line with Great Britain. Meanwhile the Women’s Quadruple Scull of Fiona Ewing, Cara Grzeskowiak, Rowena Meredith and Katrina Bateman finished in fourth in their A-Final.

Australia’s Men’s Eight finished up in fifth place in the A-Final of their boat class, with Germany taking gold, Great Britain silver and Canada bronze.