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Women’s and Men’s Fours take gold at World Rowing Cup 2

Australia also win one silver and two bronze medals in Poland; Images available here

Australia finished its first World Rowing Cup event of 2017 with a total of five medals including two golds from the Women’s and Men’s Fours. With eight young new crews competing in A-Finals today at the event in Poznan, Poland, Australia also won silver in the Women’s Quadruple Scull and bronze medals in the Women’s Pair and Women’s Double Scull.

With five medals, Australia finished the event in third place on Regatta Medal Table and the team will now return to the AIS European Training Centre ahead of World Rowing Cup 3 in Lucerne, Switzerland next month. Performance Director, Bernard Savage said: “We’ve had some good performances from a young group of athletes here at their first World Rowing Cup of the season.

“We will go back to Italy now to work on improving further on these results ahead of World Rowing Cup 3 in Lucerne and ultimately we’re looking to build towards even better results at the 2017 World Championships in USA.”

In sunny conditions, with a slight tail breeze, the Women’s Four were the first A-Final to take to the water today in Poland. Just a week ago the International Olympic Committee announced that the boat class would be raced at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Australia were drawn in Lane 4, taking on two crews from the USA, plus entries from Ukraine, Poland and China.

The home favourites were no doubt Poland, who had performed well at the European Championships and World Cup 1, but it was Australia’s crew, of Olympians Molly Goodman and Lucy Stephan and Senior Team debutants Sarah Hawe and Katrina Werry, who had clocked the fastest time in the Test event two days ago.

At the start Australia sat back in third as the Poles and USA shot out in the lead, however the Australians paced their assault on the field as they crossed the halfway mark. Goodman upped the rate and the Australians worked their way through to come into the lead, upping the rate to 40 strokes per minute as they crossed the line to win the race and setting a new World Cup Best Time of 6 minutes 22 seconds.

Post-race, Stephan said: “It was a good race. We really stuck to our race plan, we had a good first thousand metres and in the last five hundred metres I was just thinking to not muck it up. I’m really looking forward to how we progress this season.”

Australia’s Men’s Four won its heat two days ago and their closest competition in the A-Final was inevitably going to come from Olympic Champions Great Britain who won the other heat. Australia’s crew of Alex Hill, Jack Hargreaves, Spencer Turrin and Josh Hicks were by far the fastest out the start and, at 44 strokes per minute, took the lead early on.

Australia began to stride away at 39 strokes per minute as the British momentum began to build, but it was Australia who got to the halfway point first, with Great Britain over three seconds behind them and the rest of the field well behind. With 500 metres to go, Great Britain had narrowed the gap over Australia, but distance was too great to make up in the gap and the victory was Australians.

Australia’s Men’s Four won gold in Poznan (Image Copyright Rowing Australia)

The Women’s Quadruple Scull from Australia is a young crew with the three athletes making Senior team debuts. Caitlin Cronin, Rowena Meredith and Leah Saunders have joined forces with Olympian Genevieve Horton in this boat class and were on for a tough race with crews from Poland, China and Germany.

The Poles shot out at the start the fastest, getting themselves an open water advantage with Germany (the Olympic Champions) in second and Australia in third. However, the Australians paced their race well and moved through the Germans, as the Poles increased their lead. As the boats approached the line, it was Poland in first, while Australia fended off a challenge from China to take silver, while the Chinese took bronze.

Post-race, two-seat Rowena Meredith said: “That was the first regatta as a crew, so it is good to see where we stand moving forward. We are now looking to see how we can improve on this performance for Lucerne. We’ll go back to basics and see where we stand again.”

Australia’s gold medallists in the Women’s Four, Molly Goodman and Sarah Hawe, doubled up today to race in the Women’s Pair A-Final and in doing so snapped up a bronze medal. Facing stiff competition from in-form New Zealand duo Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler as well as USA’s Megan Kalmoe and Tracey Eisser.

With New Zealand and USA tussling it out up front in the middle point of the race, the Australian duo began to move their way through the pack and pushing Chile, the second New Zealand crew and Great Britain out of medal contention. As the crews reached the line, the standings remained the same as they had been in at the 1500 metre mark, New Zealand first, USA second and third for Australia.

Post-race, Goodman was happy to have won another medal in Poland: “Sarah and I were pretty tired coming into this race, having also raced in the Four a couple of hours before. The Four is our main boat, we haven’t tried the pair so much, so we are very happy about this medal. We will race next in Lucerne and hopefully we’ll then be selected in the Four for the World Championships later this year.”

Australia picked up its second bronze medal after Madeleine Edmunds and Olympia Aldersey finished third in the Women’s Double Scull A-Final. Australia were drawn in Lane Two, next to an inform China and one away from favourites New Zealand. Australia had a good start, tussling with China and Germany, but it was New Zealand who made all the right moves to take the lead in the race just after the halfway point.

The Australians pushed on China, who were now in second, trying to chase down the New Zealanders, as they approached the final 500 metres, but the lead was too great and the Australians crossed the line in third.

Olympia Aldersey admitted this was just the first steps for this new combination: “It’s a good first step because we are a new combination. We are quite happy with the results and we are looking forward to the next World Cup in Lucerne. I would like to continue with this crew until the World Rowing Championships, which we’ll find out about after the third World Cup.”

The Men’s Double Scull of David Watts and Luke Letcher also had a tight race in their A-Final, finishing in fourth. The Australians had the second fastest qualifying time, behind favourites New Zealand, however today was about medals and it was Norway’s Olympic bronze medallists who showed their cards first in the race.

The Norwegians pushed ahead first with Australia and New Zealand hot on their heels. The New Zealanders managed to surge ahead, leaving Australia in third and nipping at the stern of the Norwegians who had now been pushed into second place. As the crews reached the final 500 metres, Australia were still in third, however hometown favourites Poland had upped their stroke rate and muscled past Australia at the line to take the final podium position.

The Lightweight Women’s Double Scull of Alice Arch and Georgia Miansarow had made the A-Final by virtue of finishing fourth in their repechage. This was Arch’s first Senior team showing, and partnering Miansarow, this young crew put in a valiant effort against sterling competition from two crews from China as well as hometown favourites, Poland. The crew had a tough race, finishing sixth overall.

The Men’s Eight of Darcy Wruck, Nathan Bowden, Ben Coombs, Angus Widdicombe, Angus Moore, Tim Masters, Campbell Watts, Alex Purnell and coxswain James Rook finished their first A-Final of 2017 in fourth place in a race that saw an inform Germany not only win gold, but also set a new World’s Best Time.

The Australian crew, with a number of athletes appearing at their first World Rowing Cup, started well in what was a tight field with Germany, New Zealand, Great Britain and Poland. The Australians however couldn’t keep up with the pace set by the Germans, and battled it out with New Zealand and Great Britain for the remaining medals, but as the crews reached the final 500 metres it was too late to push for a podium finish.

Meanwhile in the B-Finals, it was a good morning for the Men’s Pair of Simon Keenan and Hamish Playfair. The race was hotly contested between the Australians, and crews from Argentina, Germany and New Zealand. The Australians came out quickly, but the race was a true battle between the crews, with each nabbing the lead at some point in the race. However, it was Keenan and Playfair who had the edge at the line and took home the win, and placing seventh overall at World Rowing Cup 2.

The Lightweight Women’s Double Scull of Amy James and Georgia Nesbitt were in a two-boat race against Great Britain’s second Lightweight Double. The young Australian combination fought back in the final 500 metres after Britain had taken an early lead, but despite a big push in the final 200 metres, it was Britain who crossed the line first, with Australia in second.

The Men’s Quadruple Scull B-Final saw Hamish Parry, Cameron Fowler, James Kerr and Sean Murphy finished fourth overall in their B-Final. The crew, who normally compete in the Lightweight category, pushed between third and fourth throughout the race, but China surged ahead of the Australians at the line to take third, while New Zealand and Great Britain finished first and second respectively.