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New-look Double lead the way for Aussies in Belgrade

Amanda Bateman and Laura Gourley are becoming a formidable combination in the Double Scull. Photo: Vera Bucsu/Rowing Australia

By Rupert Guinness with the Australian Rowing Team in Belgrade

Amanda Bateman and Laura Gourley are a brand-new crew at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

But as the Australian Women’s Double Scull, they turned plenty of heads on Wednesday with their commanding win to progress to the A-B Semi-Finals and move one race closer to qualifying the boat for Australia at the Olympic Games in Paris next year.

The win on day four of the titles, where Australia is trying to qualify boats for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, set the tone for another strong day for the team. Three of six boats that raced progressed to the A-B Semi-Finals.

Bateman and Gourley, coached by Halley Chapman, needed a top two finish in their Repechage to make Friday’s A-B Semi Final. They led from the start to win in 7:02.27. In second was Norway in 7:03.74, then Poland in 7:09.01, Switzerland in 7:09.41, Czech Republic in 7:15.64 and Greece in 7:16.92.

“We wanted to get out of the box better than what we did [in the Heat],” Bateman afterwards. “We had to improve on that. We were able to, then settled into a rhythm, really took control and shut down the race through the middle thousand [metres] so that there was no scrambling [in the last 500m].”

Quote of the Day
That was my training for the day. It was hard to keep up,” an Australian team staffer said the day after following the Men’s Eight Heats on a bike in the coach’s peloton. It’s no easy feat when you’re looking to your right for most of the 2000m distance to observe the technique and form of Eights that reach speeds up to 22kmh. What could go wrong?


Fun Fact of the Day
If you watch the World Rowing Championships on Foxtel or Kayo, or see images of the café’s and beer tents along the 2000m course, you may notice an increasing mass of green and gold at the 1750m mark. It’s the Australian Team’s supporters’ group, most of whom are parents and partners. As the regatta nears the Finals and medal races, the numbers are increasing. With 250m to go, their cheer will almost certainly make a big difference to how the Aussie boats fare.

Gourley said their Heat reinforced the importance of “getting on the attack and not defence with the race”.

”It’s a lot easier to get in front and stay in front, than to work your way up through the race. You can have a calm finish rather than panic when you have to put a lot of work in that last 200m.”

Bateman and Gourley now have their sights set on their Semi Final. A top three finish will book them into Sunday’s Final for the medal hunt and qualify their boat for the Olympics. Crews need a top 11 ranking to qualify the boat – six A Finalists and first five in the B Final.

The other two boats to progress to Semi Finals on Wednesday were the Women’s Single Scull with Tara Rigney, who won her Quarter Final, and the Men’s Pair of Fergus Hamilton and Simon Keenan, who finished third in their Quarter Final.

In tough cross headwinds, Rigney won in 7:56.73. But with a less than perfect start, she had to fight harder mid-way through to win. In second was Desislava Angelova of Bulgaria in 7:58.68, followed by Tatsiana Klimovichof AIN1 in 7:59.85.

Rigney’s coach Ellen Randell was still impressed by how the 2022 World Championship Bronze Medallist coped with an uncharacteristic start. “She didn’t have the best of starts,” Randell said. “Then she got herself into a really solid mid-race pace and stayed in it. Her adaptability to respond was good.”

In the Men’s Pair Quarter Final, Hamilton and Keenan, coached by Laryssa Biesenthal, placed third in 7:08.30. The result was enough for them to progress to the A-B Semi-Final on Thursday. Great Britain won their Quarter Final well in 7:04.21, while South Africa placed second in 7:06.43.

In their Men’s Lightweight Double Scull Quarter Final, Oscar McGuinness and Sean Murphy fought bravely trying to qualify for the A-B Semi Final. The field included the Tokyo Olympic Gold Medallists from Ireland.

The Australians moved into third place which they needed to qualify the boat. But they were passed in the last 250m by Belgium. Ireland won the race in 6:46.53, followed by Italy in 6:49.83, Belgium in 6:52.82 and then Australia in 6:53.65. 

In the Men’s Single Scull, Alex Rossi placed fifth in his Quarter Final. He also needed a top three finish to progress to the A-B Semi Final. He will next race in the C-D Semi Final.

In the Men’s Double Scull, Cormac Kennedy-Leverett and Harley Moore placed fifth in their Quarter Final. However, they also needed a top three finish to make the Semi-Final.

 Day 4: Full Australian Results

Women’s Double Scull
Crew: Amanda Bateman, Laura Gourley (Coach: Halley Chapman)
Result (Repechage): 1. AUS 7:07.27; 2.NOW 7:03.74; 3. POL 7:09.01; 4. SUI 7:09.41; 5. CZE 7:15.64; 6. GRE 7:16.92
Qualifying: 1-2 to A-B SF. Rest to CD SF 

Women’s Single Scull
Sculler: Tara Rigney (Coach Ellen Randell)
Result (QF): 1. AUS 7:56.73; 2. BUL 7:58.68; 3. AIN1 7:59.85; 4. AIN2 7: 8:07.35; 5. ROU 8:10.50; 6. GBR 8 :15.65
Qualifying: 1-3 to A-B SF. Rest to C-D SF

Men’s Single Scull
Sculler: Alex Rossi (Coach: Don McLachlan)
Result (A-D QF): 1. NED 7:07.97; 2. AIN2 7:06.90; 3. CRO 7:13.33; 4. USA 7:20.55; 5. AUS 7 :30.90; 6. SWE 7:39.11
Qualifying: 1-3 to A-B SF. Rest to C-D SF

Lightweight Men’s Double Scull
Crew: Oscar McGuinness, Sean Murphy (Coaches: Laryssa Biesentha/Lyall McCarthy)
Result (QF): 1. IRE 6:46.53; 2. ITA 6:49.83; 3. BEL 6:52.82; 4. AUS 6:53.65; 5. POR 6:56.88; 6. EGY; 7:32.58
Qualifying: 1-3 to A-B SF. Rest to C-D SF

Men’s Pair
Crew: Fergus Hamilton, Simon Keenan (Coach Laryssa Biesenthal)
Result (QF): 1. GBR 7:04.21; 2. RSA 7:06.43; 3. AUS 7:08.30; 4. AIN1 7:13.98; 5. HUN 7:23.59; 6. NED 7:26.21
Qualifying: 1-3 to A-B SF. Rest to C-D SF

Men’s Double Scull
Crew: Cormac Kennedy-Leverett, Harley Moore (Coaches: Rhett Ayliffe/Lyall McCarthy)Result (QF): 1. CRO 6:42.38; 2. CHN 6:45.18; 3. FRA 6:46.76; 4.SWE 6:48.91; 5. AUS 6:54.34; 6. SRB 7:03.01
Qualifying: 1-3 to A-B SF. Rest to C-D SF