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NZ Rowing plan to enter up to 6 boats in Olympics

Media Release - March 2

NZ Rowing plan to enter up to six boats in Athens Olympics

New Zealand hopes to enter at least six boat crews to the Athens Olympics next year, New Zealand Rowing high performance commissioner Barrie Mabbott said today.

The national trialists were named today after the conclusion of the New Zealand rowing regatta in pristine conditions on glassy Lake Ruataniwha near Twizel yesterday.

Mabbott said New Zealand wanted to send away six boat crews to Milan in August for the world championships which doubles as the Olympic qualifying regatta. The NZ boats and squad for Milan will be named on March 20.

``The priority boats are the men's coxless four and the women's double sculls. But we'd like to compete in the men's coxless pair and there is a singles berth for Rob Waddell if he wants to come back,'' Mabbott said.

``We will leave Rob alone at the moment but we'll make contact with him in the next couple of weeks.''

Waddell has been grinding for Team New Zealand since 2001 but may be decide to return to his favourite sport.

His path to Athens, should be want to row at international level again, will be easier if he attempts to qualify in Milan this year, rather than fight for the last remaining three places next year.

Mabbott said Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell were New Zealand rowing's only serious Olympic gold medal chance at this stage, if former world champion Waddell decided not to make a comeback.

``The other boats are long shots. We'll also look at sending a women's quadruples sculls and possibly an eight or pair depending how the national trials pan out,'' Mabott said.

He also hinted New Zealand might send a crew to compete in the coxed four -- a non-Olympic event -- at the world championships to give some of our up and coming young rowers international experience.

The national trials will be held on Lake Karapiro from March 15 to 19 and the New Zealand crews to the world championships will be named on March 20.

The Evers-Swindell sisters showed their scorching world class in the national championships on Lake Ruataniwha at the weekend. They were named the New Zealand female rowers of the year yesterday.

They hardly broke into a sweat in effortlessly retaining their national double sculls, quadruple sculls and coxless four titles. Caroline Evers-Swindell also held on to her single sculling crown. She has 15 national titles to date, still well short of the 38 held by their manager and former New Zealand ironman Chris White.

The Evers-Swindells teamed up with Kate Robinson and Jackie Abraham to score crushing victories in the coxless four and quadruple sculls.

Wairau's Rob Hellstrom impressed in teaming with Sean O'Neill to win the coxless pair from Avon's double Olympian David Schaper and Ian Smallman.

Schaper, Smallman, George Bridgewater and Chris Flanagan retained the famous Boss Rooster title for Avon in the coxed four while Rob Hellstrom and Sean O'Neill clinched the coxless pair event.

Mahe Drysdale lifted the singles title, won six times by Rob Waddell, the Team New Zealand yachting grinder who may be thinking about leaving sails behind him and picking up his oars again.

Avon impressively won the men's eight, both fours and Ian Smallman was named the New Zealand male rower of the year.


Media advisory: For further information contact Kip Brook at Word of Mouth Media NZ 021 0338455 or 03 3745426

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