Hawke's Bay para-rower Gavin Foulsham has a realistic chance of a podium finish at the August world championships in Slovenia.
That was the call from his coach Ross Webb after Foulsham won his open para single final at the Lake Karapiro-hosted national championships on Saturday.
"Gavin is better placed than he was this time last year. His time in his heat on Tuesday was just ahead of his best time of 9m30s recorded over 2000m at last year's world championships in Austria," Webb explained.
"Gavin is fully focused on Slovenia as he was unsuccessful in his hunt for a female crewmate with a similar disability to try to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics with," Webb said.
As part of his build-up for Slovenia, Foulsham will spend 10 days in Italy in May. He will compete in the World Cup II Regatta and then a Para Regatta a week later before returning home for two training blocks before Slovenia.
Foulsham joined Olympian Emma Twigg as Hawke's Bay's gold medal winners at the nationals which attracted 832 rowers from 47 clubs.
Twigg won the women's premier single on Saturday after being part of a premier winning crew earlier in the nationals.
Webb was thrilled with the 11 medals won by Bay rowers during the five-day regatta. He said it was a big improvement on the three medals won at last year's nationals in Twizel and the seven in 2018.
The women's novice eight of Caitlin Rowland, Avani Tuck, Morgan Awatere-Maden, Frith Donaldson, Tayla Lochhead, Hanah Oliver, Somer Taylor, Ava Woodbury-Rinkle and cox Sophie King were second.
Hawke's Bay's men's novice coxed quad sculls crew of Finn Downing, Arthur Donaldson, Max Gerber, Hugo Minor and cox Oscar Bromhead collected silver and combined again to take bronze in the novice coxed four final.
St John's College student Jack Cooper returned home with three silver medals. They came in the men's intermediate single sculls final, the men's intermediate coxed four final with Matthew McIvor, Liam Halpin, Dylan van Heerden and cox Brock Austin, and in the intermediate coxed quad with van Heerden, Boston Stubbs, Logan Ballantine-Wolley and cox Harry Lawson.
Webb was rapt with the bronze placing by the women's club coxless quad of Kate Stewart, Madeline Parker, Libby Stewart and Ari Wright as the majority of this crew are second-year rowers.
Wright got another bronze in the women's club single scull and with Parker in the women's under-19 double scull which was a tremendous feat as the pair are still under 17.
Rowland, Frith Donaldson, Awatere-Maden, Oliver and King were third in the novice coxed four final. The intermediate coxed eight crew of Max Duncan, McIvor, Hamilton, van Heerden, Stubbs, Joshua Lee, Connor Rowland, Kade Barham and cox Brock Austin also finished third.
Webb predicted several of these rowers including Wright and Cooper to be among the medal winners at next month's Lake Karapiro-hosted North Island Secondary Schools champs.