Rowing: Rowers on track for Rio with golden world championships haul

By David Leggat

Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson of New Zealand, Women's Double Sculls celebrate after winning the final at the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. Photo / AP
Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson of New Zealand, Women's Double Sculls celebrate after winning the final at the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. Photo / AP

The fanfare should be loud and hearty as New Zealand's elite rowers arrive back in the coming weeks.

They've deserved it. Six gold medals, nine altogether, represents New Zealand's finest world championship haul.

Eleven of the 13 crews in Amsterdam last week made A finals. The exceptions were the men's double of Robbie and Karl Manson, who finished eighth overall, and the lightweight men's double, who were scheduled for the C final but withdrew when Alastair Bond moved into the lightweight four to replace the luckless James Lassche and won himself a silver medal.

The two quads were the only A finalists to leave empty-handed.

It was a remarkable week's work and suggests, at the halfway point in the Olympic cycle, that Rowing New Zealand's programme is ticking the right boxes.

Not since 2001 has a crew, Britain's Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell, won both the coxless and coxed pair titles at the same worlds.

Then again, whatever Eric Murray and Hamish Bond have a crack at tends to work out fine. Six years unbeaten, they are on track to retire as the finest of all rowing crews.

Others shone through to suggest the future is rosy, such as Julia Edward, the lightweight woman who won eight of her nine races, as a single or part of a double, this year.

Or Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson, who buried the heartache of missing out in the women's double at last year's worlds with a sizzling finish to win their first gold.

At times like this, there's a tendency to look at what's not there. In rowing's case the hole is the men's and women's eights.

There is an ambition to have crews line up in all 14 Olympic classes in Rio in 2016. That means coming up with quality eights for the qualifying process next year.

The men's under-23 crew won their second consecutive world title in Italy late in July. There are other rowers who have had a chance at times in the last four seasons and could come again. The women's four won their non-Olympic event in Amsterdam. That suggests the bones of an eight are already there.

What's next

1: The high-performance summer training squad will be named on September 10.

2: The national championships at Twizel will be followed by trials for next year's elite programme in Europe, from February 28-March 5.

3: The world championships, doubling as the Olympic qualifying regatta, are in Aiguebelette, France from August 30-September 6.

- NZ Herald

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