New Zealand's up and coming Under 23 girls rowed their way to two silver medals in Brest, Belarusia today, with the women's lightweight double scull of Julia Edward and Lucy Strack taking the runner up spot along with the women's eight on a solid day for New Zealand’s up and coming rowers.
Edward and Strack set the ball rolling for New Zealand with an inspirational silver medal to open the account and give a boost to the four crews that would race in finals later.
The girls have looked competitive throughout the regatta and capped a fine performance in Belarusia with a great race in the final. Third at 500 metres, they gradually established themselves in a competitive field that was giving chase to the fast starting Greeks Triantafyllia Kalampoka and Christina Giazitzidou.
They gave chase to the leaders in style; racing into a clear second place by half way and then clawing back much of the deficit throughout the last 800 metres as they cleared the chasing pack. Under pressure, the Greek girls responded with a final push, but still Strack and Edward came after them. In the end, they simply ran out of time and came home overlapping their rivals, but in second place. A silver medal was a great result for the young combination.
In the penultimate race of the day - a straight final for the six entrants - New Zealand's crew of Genevieve Behrent, Hayley Hoogeveen, Kylie Wright, Fiona Bourke, Jessica Loe, Zoe Stevenson, Tarsha Williams, Kelsey Bevan and Frances Turner showed real fighting spirit in a race that was a dogfight between the USA, Canada and the Kiwis. The Americans always looked in control, just, but the fight for second was never more than a few metres behind them and it switched between New Zealand and Canada. The Kiwi girls put a lack of experience to one side and simply raced as hard as they could and it paid off as they moved away from the Germans in fourth to guarantee themselves a medal as they entered the last third of the race. A real tussle for the silver raged in the last 500 metres, but the Canadians could do nothing about the Kiwis finishing sprint, and a fantastic silver as the girls' reward.
Lightweight sculler Leah Stanley will no doubt rue a slow first half in her final, because her pace in the second half of the women's lightweight single scull was superb, and moved her from sixth through to fifth, just a narrow margin away from fourth and just three seconds away from a medal. Part of an up and coming pack of top class young lightweights in New Zealand, this year's Under 23 world championships will serve as useful experience as she continues to improve her speed and race craft. Definitely one to watch for the future.
Robbie Manson was world champion in the double scull last year with Joseph Sullivan and looked odds on to take out a bronze medal this year with his brother Karl as the field went into the last 500 metres. The Kiwi boys were behind leaders Latvia and Germany, who had a real scrap for the gold medal, but ahead of Lithuania and Italy as the race entered its final stages. A disastrous last 500 metres, however, left them in fifth at the flag - a disappointment after a strong regatta.
There was more disappointment a few moments later when the lightweight four failed to live up to expectations from the semi final, where it tracked the strong British crew all of the way. Finian Scott, James Lassche, Graham Oberlin-Brown and Curtis Rapley couldn't repeat that form in the final however, finishing at the back in sixth as the Brits, the Italians and the USA romped away to the medals.
New Zealand results - World Under 23 Rowing Championships, Brest, Belarusia
Women's Eight - 2nd
Women's lightweight double scull - 2nd
Men's coxed four - 4th
Men's double scull - 5th
Women's lightweight single scull - 5th
Men’s lightweight four – 6th
Women's quadruple scull - 10th