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Australian Youth Olympic Festival 2009

Sydney International Regatta Centre

Race reports

 Sunday 18 January

New Zealand upset raging favourites in rowing finale

The rowing regatta at the Australian Youth Olympic Games has concluded with two excellent races in the finals of the women’s and men’s eights.

Heading into the final two races of the regatta, Great Britain had surged to the lead in the medal tally with a total of six gold medals, and leading into the two blue riband events of rowing were firm favourites to add to their collection of medals.

South Australia, however, provided the early running in the final of the women’s eight and swept to a canvas lead through the first 500m before New Zealand overtook going into the halfway mark, but only just over the crews from Great Britain and Queensland. Isabel McLernon, New Zealand cox, then lifted the stroke rate of her crew to give them a boat-length lead coming into the final 500m. With Great Britain being left behind it was the Queenslanders that kept the pressure on New Zealand, but Julia Edward, Julia Trautvetter, Leah Stanley, Regan Barkla, Emily Discombe, Kelsey Bevan, Morgan Dunham, Samantha Sinnett, and Isabel McLernon were too strong and won the blue riband event by half a boat length over Queensland in a time of 6:44.49. South Australia took the bronze with the favourites from Great Britain finishing in fourth place.

New Zealand coxen Isabel McLernon couldn’t hide her elation after the race.

“It’s an amazing feeling to have won the race and has come as quite a surprise,” McLernon said. “When we hit the lead at the 1000m mark I was in a bit of shock but the girls rowed a great race.”

The men’s eight was a far closer race than originally expected with some of Australia’s young state rowers taking it to the might of the Great Britain combination. The majority of the Australian states had not had many sessions in the larger boat heading into the regatta but showed the grit and determination required when rowing at the elite level, a trademark that will serve them well in the future.

Through the 500m mark Victoria held a slender lead over New Zealand and Great Britain, but it was New Zealand that made the first move pushing ahead to the front at the half way point. Great Britain then asserted their dominance over the field and took the lead, and with 500m to go never looked back. They crossed the line in a time of 5:53.30 to win by a full boat length over New Zealand, with Victoria a further boat length back in third.

Great Britain’s win in the men’s eight allowed them to win all of the men’s gold medals with the exception of the men’s single scull, in which Tasmanian Taylor Wilczynski was victorious.

Matthew Rossiter, who recorded a personal tally of three gold medals at the regatta and rowed six seat in the men’s eight, said it was mission accomplished for the whole team.

“It feels awesome to have won the men’s eight because everyone worked really hard together to make the result happen” Rossiter said. “It’s awesome. I think we got six gold medals last time so to do better than that feels great.”

In the earlier B Finals of the respective eight’s races Tasmania won the women’s race ahead of Victoria and the ACT in a time of 7:01.01, while their fellow team-mates were successful in the men’s race with a winning time of 6:13.65 to finish a boat length clear of South Australia and China.

At the conclusion of the regatta Great Britain topped the medal tally with seven gold medals, two silver and three bronze, to finish ahead of New Zealand with three gold medals. New South Wales and Tasmania each won a gold medal.

Jessica Armstrong and David Polglase

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Future Olympians flourish on water

The first session of rowing finals has been completed on Day 5 of the Australian Olympic Youth Festival at the Sydney International Regatta Centre, Penrith.

Racing conditions were perfect at the 2000 Olympic venue, with competitors racing under clear skies and no trace of a breeze.

Great Britain, after winning three gold medals on the first day of rowing, continued in the same fashion as their women’s quad scull crew of Charlotte Burgess, Olivia Oakes, Rachel Gamble-Flint and Katherine Copeland held off the fast-finishing crews from New South Wales and Queensland to take the final in a time of 6:47.66.

Continuing their great state rivalry, New South Wales and Queensland went bow ball to bow ball over the last 200 metres, with the New South Wales crew of Olivia Heath, Alison Smith, Johanna Tarrant and Anna Kaszycki prevailing over the Queensland crew of Karla-Lee Dexter, Clare Gilbride, Madeleine Edmonds and Catriona Rose by one hundredth of a second.

In the B Final Western Australia held off China and Victoria to take the race in a time of 7:08.23.

New South Wales prevented a second successive British win of the morning when the crew of Charles Budd, Aleksander Burzins, Nicholas Purnell and Edward De Carvalho triumphed in the men’s quad scull in a winning time of 6:04.86. New South Wales led at every split down the course to hold off the fast-finishing Great Britain crew of Jonathan Clegg, Jonathan Walton, William Satch and John Preston by a mere 0.14 seconds. Queensland claimed the bronze medal, some five seconds behind the leading two crews.

South Australia claimed the B Final in a time of 6:19.41 to hold off Western Australia by four seconds, with China settling for third place.

Lottie Howard-Merrill and Joanna Fitzsimons then won their second gold medal of the regatta as they combined with Elizabeth Arnold and Olivia Carnegie-Brown to win the final of the women’s four for Great Britain. They settled in fourth place after the first 500m, before making their move at the 800m mark to burst into a lead at the halfway point. Stroked by Howard-Merrill, the crew never looked back and won in a time of 7:01.38. Queensland (Jenny Krippner, Leah Billing, Fiona Albert and Stephanie Krippner) won the silver medal ahead of the New Zealand crew of Emily Discombe, Kelsey Bevan, Morgan Dunham and Samantha Sinnett.

South Australia once again prevailed in a B Final, completing the 2000m course in a time of 7:15.54, ahead of the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

New Zealand and Great Britain traded positions all the way down the course in the final of the men’s four and set themselves up for a grandstand finish. In the event in which Great Britain has won Olympic gold three consecutive times, the junior crew showed their pedigree with Matthew Tarrant, Kieren Emery, George Nash and Matthew Rossiter winning in a time of 6:08.77. New Zealand (Andrew Healey, Jason Kitchin, Ben Lynton and Bradley Ross) finished in second place by only 0.14 seconds, while Western Australia (Brendan Murray, David Watts, Christian Eyres and Tom Gatti) rounded out the medallists.

The Australian Capital Territory claimed victory in the B Final in a time of 6:36.74, leading home Tasmania by a boat length, with South Australia in third place.

David Polglase

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Saturday 17 January

Finals bring out some hot racing

In the final of the women’s single scull the ACT’s Sorelle Bowman took out an early lead right up to the 1000m mark. New Zealand’s Leah Stanley then made her move and was able to take the lead with 500m to go. She had to fight hard with Western Australian Ashleigh Miles gallantly trying to catch her, however Stanley held on to get the first gold medal for rowing in a time of 7:52.90, almost 20 seconds quicker than her heat row.

New South Wales’ Johanna Tarrant won the B final while the Chinese girl Jing Zhou claimed the C final victory.

The men’s single scull final brought out the best with Taylor Wilczynski of Tasmania leading out the race and never looking back. Wilczynski is the winner of the last two Australian school boys single scull championships and gained a bronze medal at last year’s junior world championships. He really asserted his dominance in this event, from his first strokes out of the starting block.

New Zealand’s Michael Berry tried to catch Wilczynski in the last half of the race, but the young Tasmanian was just too strong and took the gold in a time of 7:03.69.

Wilczynski has strong ambitions to compete at the Olympics.

“I want to make the 2012 Olympic games if I’m good enough” he said. “I’ll make myself good enough.”

In the B final it was South Australia’s Liam Gotley who fought hard to win, while Alexander Belonogoff of Queensland cruised through to win the C final.

It was a great race for the medals of the women’s coxless pair. There was nothing between the field until the last few hundred metres, when the two British pairs looked to take the double until the team from Victoria of Alexandria and Jessica Hill snatched the silver medal. The British pair of Lottie Howard-Merrill and Joanna Fitzsimons held on to win the gold in a time of 7:36.82.

The British girls were very excited to win, especially as there has been some friendly rivalry within the Great Britain camp.

“The boys normally do better than the girls so we finally got them on something!” Howard-Merrill said.

The girls’ British teammates claimed the bronze only 0.57 seconds behind the Victorian crew.

The men’s coxless pairs was a strategic race with the Victorian crew of Daniel Brightthope and Joshua Dunkley-Smith taking the lead early, and keeping an even stroke rate to lead up until half way. In the last kilometre of the race the British crew of George Nash and Matthew Rossiter made their move, and led the Victorian crew by 3 seconds going into the last 500m of the race. The other British crew of Matthew Tarrant and Kieren Emery snuck up on the Victorians in the dying stages of the race to nab the silver medal, with Brightthope and Dunkley-Smith having to be satisfied with the bronze. Nash and Rossiter won in a steaming time of 6:40.48.

In the women’s lightweight double scull the New Zealand crew of Julia Edward and Julia Trautvetter led the race from start to finish, with the New South Wales crew pushing them all the way. Edward and Trautvetter won in a time of 7:14.42, 1.74 seconds in front of Olivia Heath and Alison Smith of New South Wales. It was Great Britain who claimed the bronze medal, close behind Heath and Smith.

Great Britain finished off the finals with yet another win in the men’s lightweight double scull, with the New South Wales crew forced to take the silver for the second time in as many races. John Preston and Jonathan Clegg won the gold in a time of 6:33.90 with Tasmania rounding out the placings in third position.

Jessica Armstrong

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Great Britain assert their dominance

The morning session has now been completed on the first day of the rowing program at the Sydney International Regatta Centre.

Following two days of indescribable heat, the women’s single scull got underway in cool conditions with the international competitors starting in strong fashion.

Great Britain’s Rachel Gamble-Flint showed her worth in the first race of the day and cruised into the final in a time of 8:04.89. She finished ahead of New Zealand’s Regan Barkla, with both these rowers progressing to the final of the event to be held just after midday. Gamble-Flint was also the quickest qualifier for the final.

In the three remaining heats victories were recorded by China, South Australia and New Zealand. Xinyue Zhang led home Western Australia’s Ashleigh Miles, recording a time of 8:06.39. Olympia Aldersey won heat three to qualify alongside Queensland’s Madeleine Edmonds, while New Zealand’s Leah Stanley won the final heat ahead of the ACT’s Sorelle Bowman.

Great Britain rower Jonathan Walton opened the heats of the men’s single scull with a strong time of 7:24.67 to qualify fastest for the final. David Watts (WA), Taylor Wilczynski (TAS) and Nicholas Purnell (NSW) were each the fastest in their respective heats and will battle for the medals later this afternoon.

The New South Wales’ combination of Beatrix Sheldrick and Ashleigh Peppernell were the quickest qualifiers after the heats of the women’s pair. They set a time of 7:49.85 to prevail over Michelle Yann and Rosie Popa from Victoria. Both crews wil progress to the final.

Daisy de la Hunty, granddaughter of the legendary Australian track athlete Shirley Strickland, combined with fellow West Australian Alexandra Hagan to win their heat, while Queensland and Victoria also won their respective heats.

In the third heat of the men’s coxless pair the Great Britain team of Matthew Tarrant and Kieren Emery rowed out quickly to qualify first in a fast time of 6:50.39. The race for second was tight resulting in a photo finish between New Zealand and New South Wales, with Andrew Healey and Jason Kitchin of New Zealand edging out the New South Wales’ crew on the line.

The following heat was also close with the chief judge calling for another photo finish where the ACT crew of Angus Moore and Mathew Barnier secured second on the line over the crew from Queensland. Ben Lynton and Bradley Ross of New Zealand won the heat with a good time of 6:53.51.

Great Britain, Western Australia and two Victorian crews also advanced to the finals of the men’s pair and will also contest the medal race today.

Charlotte Burges and Katherine Copeland stormed to victory in their heat of the women’s lightweight double scull to continue Great Britain’s exceptional start to the regatta. They crossed the line in a time of 7:25.12 to qualify along with China and Tasmania who took the minor placings in the race.

In the second heat New Zealand’s Julia Edward and Julia Trautvetter prevailed in a time of 7:29.14, to finish two boat-lengths clear of New South Wales and South Australia.

Great Britain also recorded the quickest time in the heats of the men’s lightweight double scull. John Preston and Johnathan Clegg recorded a time of 6:38.83, with New South Wales and Victoria filling the remaining two spots in the final.

The Tasmanian crew of Oliver Wilson-Haffenden and Sam Hall won the second heat in a time of 6:51.10 to progress to the final with Western Australia and the ACT.

David Polglase and Jessica Armstrong

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