Rowing: Twigg in fine form for Rio qualifiers

By David Leggat

New Zealand Rowing Women's Single Scull, Emma Twigg. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand Rowing Women's Single Scull, Emma Twigg. Photo / Brett Phibbs

It should be a doddle but you certainly won't hear Emma Twigg saying that.

When single sculler Twigg goes to this month's final Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne, she has to finish in the top three to take her place at the Rio Games in August.

Now consider Twigg was world champion in 2014 before taking a year out to study for an international masters in sports management in Europe. She reckons she's in prime condition on her return to Rowing New Zealand's high performance group.

Twigg was not permitted to compete at last year's worlds in France by Rowing New Zealand's selection policy, as she'd not been part of the programme at Lake Karapiro - even though she's completed her graduation before the worlds.

Twigg was unimpressed but now she's back in the single seat and confident she's in good shape for the challenge at Lucerne.

And there are no regrets at taking the year off, getting a taste of possibilities for the future in a world away from a rowing course.

"I had an absolutely fantastic year, learnt a hell of a lot and feel I've come back a different person, excited about the future, and excited about being back in rowing."

It would be a major surprise if Twigg doesn't do the business in Lucerne. Quality doesn't wither away in that period of time, plus it wasn't as if she was completely inactive in the absence from Lake Karapiro.

Then again, as she admitted, strange things can happen at a qualifying event. In 2012, two women from the qualifier finished up winning silver and bronze at the Olympics.

And Ekaterina Karsten, the two-time Olympic champion and six-time world titleholder from Belarus, is back and contending, albeit at 43.

There were no difficulties adjusting to life back in Cambridge - "nothing changes in Cambridge, other than the size of the team. It's all moved like clockwork so it's just like slipping back into old routines".

Twigg is wary of what lies ahead, but confident.

"I've never had to take this route and it's going to be an interesting regatta.

"I feel stronger than I ever have physically. It's going to be a pressure regatta in terms of producing my best race to make the top three, but it's nothing we haven't done before," she said.

Australian Kim Brennan - formerly Crow - is Twigg's toughest rival, defending world champion, winner of two sculling medals at the London Games in 2012. Twigg has high respect for her.

"She's an amazing athlete and I'd hope she'd say the same thing about me.

"I hope we're going to have some great racing this year and at the end of the day you can only put out your best, and if it wins a gold medal then absolutely fantastic."

- NZ Herald

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