Gold, Silver and Bronze for juniors at Champs
Gold, Silver and Bronze for juniors at World Championships
New Zealand's junior athletes have excelled in Linz at the World Junior Rowing Championships with a stunning set of gold, silver and bronze medals for the girls' four, boys' eight and girls' quadruple scull. It is one of the best ever showings for the kiwi junior team and a sign that the next generation of top class elite New Zealand rowers is on its way.
The girls' four had dominated its heat and qualified straight to the final so little was known about their tactics other than they were fast. Italy decided to surprise the girls and took a dangerous looking two second lead at 500 metres. New Zealand stayed calm and fought back with a blistering middle 1,000 metres that brought them just about level by the 1,500 mark. In a grandstand finish between the two crews over the final 500 metres, the New Zealand crew showed one of the kiwi hallmarks - a fast finish - and rowed through the Italians to win a superb gold medal in 7.00.41 minutes. Great Britain were third and Germany, Australia and the USA completed the field but that was of little consequence to the winners Sophie Spiers, Anna Dawson, Hayley Hoogeveen and Lucy Spoors as they enjoyed their moment of glory.
New Zealand had medalled in the boys' eight for the past two years with a gold and a silver and right from the start of the final, this year's crew looked in contention as well. Germany shot off in the lead and for the first 1,500 metres, New Zealand tracked second placed USA and then in the last 500 metres unleashed another breathtaking burn to the line - by far the quickest of any crew. This not only despatched the Americans but actually put the Germans comfortable lead under serious threat. With 100 metres to go it started to look like the kiwis could do it, but a desperate German crew held them off by a scant four tenths of a second. Silver it was then for Michael Berry, William Meates, Ben Bullock, Jason Kitchen, Andrew Healey, James O'Connor, Duncan Hall, Isaac Holden and cox Matthew Cameron.
The girls’ quad had looked in the ballpark for a medal all week and had another polished scull as they raced well and took bronze. They couldn't quite live with the pace of Germany and Belarusia but had established themselves early in the race as faster than the Belgians, Italians and Greeks. They too turned on the pace in the second half of the race and clawed back at the Belarusians, but their lead was a little too much. Nevertheless, a bronze medal was a great result for the talented crew of Regan Barkla, Paparangi Hipango, Sarah Gray and Julia Trautvetter.
And on a fine day for kiwi rowing, the boy's coxed four bounced back from the disappointment of missing the A final to win the B final in style - putting away decent crews from the USA and South Africa.