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Women’s Pair, Men’s Eight take Gold as Australians finish with a flurry at World Cup III

The victorious Men’s Eight celebrates a hard-fought victory in World Cup III.

Australia has signed off its Rowing World Cup campaign with two memorable Gold Medals as the Women’s Pair continued to dominate and the Men’s Eight upset Great Britain amid stirring scenes in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Australians added three Silver Medals at World Cup III – the Women’s and Men’s Four and Women’s Single Scull – as well as a Bronze to the Women’s Eight to complete another strong outing and take vital steps towards the World Rowing Championships in September.

After stepping out of the Olympic champion Women’s Four boat to focus on their aspirations as a Pair, Jess Morrison OAM and Annabelle McIntyre OAM have been in sublime form.

They were unbeaten in all rounds in World Cup II and the Holland Beker regatta in Amsterdam and did not relent in Lucerne. Spain and Greece set a hot early pace but the Australians executed their plan to perfection, slicing through the field to beat the second-placed Romanians with five seconds to spare.

Annabelle McIntyre OAM (left) and Jess Morrison OAM (right) collected a second World Cup Gold in Lucerne.

McIntyre said they knew rival crews would test them early but there was never any panic. After the initial test, their class and stamina would prove decisive.

“We knew that because it was a final, everyone was going to come out really hard and try to go with us. We stayed internal, focused on our race. If they were going to go with us, we were going to make them hurt for it. That was the plan,” McIntyre said.

The duo will join the Women’s squad and return to Australia ahead of the World Championships, where they will have the opportunity to book a spot for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“We’ve learned something from every race and continue to hold ourselves to a high standard and keep looking to find more. I’m looking forward to continuing that when we get home,” Morrison said.

The Australian Men’s Eight of Patrick Holt, Josh Hicks, Benjamin Canham, Timothy Masters, James Robertson, Joseph O’Brien, Angus Widdicombe, Angus Dawson and Cox Kendall Brodie had been building to something special and delivered late in the day.

They would eclipse race favourites Great Britain to take Gold in a brilliant tussle, with the Australian boat crossing in 5:23.92, just shading Team GB (5:24.53), with the Netherlands just a second behind to round out the placings.

It was a well-deserved result and a welcome confidence boost as the Men’s team prepares to stay and train in Switzerland and Italy, rather than return home, for their run into the World Championships.

“It feels pretty good, we knew we had a quick last 500, we wanted to be in a good position at that part of the race. It’s going so fast, but it’s pretty good. We knew we had patches of speed here and there, now we need to go back to training,” Holt said.

The Women’s Four of Giorgia Patten, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe, Lucy Stephan OAM produced another excellent race to claim Silver, with the Men’s Four of Alexander Purnell OAM, Spencer Turin OAM, Jack Hargreaves OAM and Alex Hill OAM finishing just behind Great Britain in their A Final.

The crew said they overcame a disrupted training schedule in Canberra and would put the finishing touches on the World Championship assault in Switzerland and the European Training Centre in Italy.

“It will be good for us being in a new training environment here in Switzerland. It will be a new stimulus,” Purnell said. “Then we will be back to our home base in Italy for three to four weeks before we go to worlds and hopefully get some quality training in.”

The 2022 World Championships Bronze medalist Tara Rigney put the writing on the wall ahead of this year’s Paris 2024 qualifying regatta with a Silver Medal in the Single Sculls, closing the gap on the undefeated Dutch ace Karolien Florijn. Florijn finished in 7:27.15, with Rigney second in 7:29.77 and Kiwi Emma Twigg taking Bronze.

The Women’s Eight of Lily Alton, Paige Barr, Georgie Gleeson, Olympia Aldersey, Georgie Rowe, Jacqueline Swick, Molly Goodman, Bronwyn Cox and Cox Hayley Verbunt fought every metre of the way to collect a deserved Bronze behind Great Britain and Canada.

Australia finished second overall in the 2023 World Rowing Cup rankings on 103 points, behind winners Great Britain (115) and ahead of the third-placed Swiss (95).