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Scullers continue impressive form

Scullers continue impressive form at Under 23 World Championships

Graham Oberlin-Brown and reigning champion Joseph Sullivan continued their rich run of form with impressive victories in the semi finals of the lightweight and heavyweight single sculls in Brandenburg at the World Under 23 Rowing Championships overnight.

The men's four took a hard fought third place to earn their place in Sunday's A Final but there was disappointment for the Men's Eight - which finished sixth in its semi final and will race in the B Final. The women's fur put a disappointing semi final behind them and put on a great show to win their B Final and finish with a ranking of seventh.

Both Oberlin-Brown and Sullivan dominated their semi finals - leading all the way and setting up intriguing finals. Oberlin-Brown will face scullers from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and intriguingly, the winner of the other semi final - Mohsen Shadi Naghadeh from Iran.

Oberlin-Brown faced a much faster field in the semi than in his heat. Amongst the opposition was Germany’s Marco Weber. Assuming an early lead, Oberlin-Brown quickly established himself in a position where he could watch the opposition. With Weber following in second Oberlin-Brown did just enough to remain in front. Florian Berg of Austria, meanwhile, sat well back in third. Rating a comfortable 27 strokes per minute, Oberlin-Brown crossed the line in first. Iran’s Naghadeh surprised everyone in the heats by winning. He is part of a very new rowing programme and he has been coming along in leaps and bounds with this his first international regatta. Lining up in semi final two, Naghadeh left the start in second behind a very swift Joris Pijs of the Netherlands. Coming through the middle of the race Naghadeh closed the gap in Pijs, and as Pijs faded, Naghadeh took the lead and never looked back.

Sullivan meanwhile, will defend his title against athletes from Russia, China, Lithuania, Germany and Belarusia. He looked in a real hurry out of the start and was soon clear water ahead of the opposition. The race was won by half way at the most and Joseph moved one step closer to defending his title.

In the semi final of the men’s four, New Zealand took the initiative and won an early lead. Last year New Zealand took silver behind Germany and once again, the Germans fought back, passing the kiwis and stamping their authority on the race. Unfortunately, it was Australia that gave best chase, not the New Zealand four. Australia got the better of New Zealand to move into second. Coming into the line New Zealand began to fade. Australia took their stroke rate to 39. Germany looked comfortable at 35. The order remained the same. Germany, Australia and New Zealand will meet again in tomorrow’s final - along with Great Britain, Croatia and Italy.

In the eights semi final - Canada romped off to a comfortable early lead that no other crew in the field could match. The British gave chase, as did Germany and the Netherlands, but the pace was a little too hot for the kiwi crew, who were left chasing Russia at the back of the field. They were almost with them at 1,500 metres, too, but faded in the last 500m and head for the B Final - familiar ground for New Zealand's big boat in recent years - where they will be focussed only on repeating their repechage form and winning.

In the B Final of the women's four, New Zealand took over the lead after the fast-starting Ukraine crew started to slip. New Zealand has not been a regular entry in this event but the growth of sport in the country has meant many more crews racing internationally. By the half-way point Ukraine had dropped behind Germany. They fought back and at the line New Zealand took first, Ukraine second and Germany, who were fourth last year, finish in third and therefore 10th overall.

Sunday's finals could bring some good results. The scullers look strong prospects whilst the men's four and women's quad are both more than capable of securing good results.


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