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Highs and lows on Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

8 August 2016

ROWING: In an exciting third day at the rowing venue, three Australian crews took to the water.

The men’s four won their heat to progress straight to their semi-finals, the women’s eight will race in Wednesday’s repechage, while the women’s quadruple sculls missed out on a place in the A-Finals by just sixth hundredths of a second.

The women’s quadruple sculls of Jessica Hall, Kerry Hore, Jennifer Cleary and Madeleine Edmunds, made a shock exit from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games today when the crew finished fifth in a tightly fought repechage and therefore missed out on a spot in the A-Final. The result was somewhat unexpected since the crew had had a good lead-up to the Games, finishing with a silver medal at the final 2016 World Rowing Cup 3 in Poland, the last international racing event before the Games began.

The crew powered out the start, up against crews from the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, USA and China. With Poland and the Netherlands taking the lead it was a battle between the rest for the remaining two spots in Wednesday's A-Final.

As the crew approached the final 500 metres, they upped their rate but so did the USA and China and with 100 metres to go the three crews were bow ball to bow ball, and so close at the finish it resulted in a photo-finish to decide who would join Poland and the Netherlands in the A-Final. Once the photos were back, it was declared that Australia had finished fifth, a mere 0.06 seconds behind China, and 0.11 seconds behind USA, who had nabbed the final two qualification spots.

A visibly distraught crew spoke to the media post-race.

“Yes we are pretty devastated, we threw everything at it, with the field so good in this event in particular, and at the Olympic Games, and all it took was a few strokes, that weren’t as good as we can produce, for the result to happen,” said Hall.

“It was very close and I think it will take a bit of time for us to move on from that and we’re very grateful for three years we’ve had in this boat, with our coach and we’re very thankful of the support we’ve had around us this Olympiad."

Kerry Hore, who was competing at her fourth and final Olympic Games for Australia, was distraught at bowing out in the repechage but proud of her achievements.

“This wasn’t how I pictured finishing up, but I am glad that I didn’t quit after London. I don’t think I would have done anything differently,” said Hore.

Hore, who made her Olympic debut at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games added: “Personally I am proud of how I have conducted myself, treated other people and I have just done the very best I can, I’m not saying I haven’t made mistakes or that I wouldn’t change things if I look back, but it’s done now. I’ve rung every little last bit out of myself, and tried to draw the best out of others as well, and I guess when you finish up that’s all you can really hope for,” said the Tasmanian.

The women’s eight took to the water immediately after their team-mates in the first heat of their boat class. Requiring a first place finish, the crew, that were only reformed in full on Saturday after late call-up to the Games, flew out of the start in a bid to chase down favourite USA, as well as Netherlands and Romania.

The crew of Fiona Albert, Jessica Morrison, Alexandra Hagan, Meaghan Volker, Molly Goodman, Olympia Aldersey, Lucy Stephan, Charlotte Sutherland and coxswain Sarah Banting made a competitive start however with limited race preparation managed a fourth place finish, with the reigning World Champions, USA, taking the only qualification spot available.

Post-race Banting said it was great to finally get their first race underway.

“It was really exciting to get out there and race today given the short lead up over the last couple of weeks, but ultimately we found out we were in touch with the competition which is really exciting and now we have an extra couple of things to focus and improve on for the repechage,” said Banting.

“It was an amazing experience to be out there, for our first 2km race since qualification it was good to just go out there give it a red hot crack. We’ve now got something to work on moving forward for the repechage. It probably wasn’t our best preparation for our best race [coming in two days before the regatta, due to the late call-up] but we’re taking the opportunity,” Stephan.

Sutherland, who stepped into the stroke seat, while Olympia Aldersey slotted into six seat, believed the race showed that the girls can be competitive.

“For me personally, there was a fear that we weren’t going to be competitive, but I think we showed out there that we can be competitive and give it all we’ve got. We’ve lost only three-seconds of time since we raced at the Lucerne Qualification Regatta, and we’ll improve again for the repechage,” said Sutherland.

The men’s four of William Lockwood, Joshua Dunkley-Smith, Joshua Booth and Alexander Hill had a cracking start to their Rio 2016 Olympic campaign with the crew winning their heat in a time of 5min 54secs and progressing straight to the semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Australians flew out the start ensuring a good lead was in place by the 500 metre mark, a lead that they further capitalised on by the half-way mark. As the crew approached the 1500m point they had a clear water advantage which saw them cross the line with a comfortable win.

The Australians, who in 2012 won an Olympic silver medal in this event, have changed their crew by 50 per cent, with inclusion of Booth and Hill. The crew were the fastest qualifiers for the semi-finals, with Olympic champions, Great Britain, and World Champions, Italy, qualifying through the other two heats, direct to the semi-finals, less than a second behind the Australians.

“It’s a pretty good result. The first race of the games is always exciting and you just want to get out there and try and execute a few things really well. We wanted to get out really smartly and that happened and allowed us to get up and settle in to look back at the field,” said Booth.

“In terms of going forward, we’re looking to put a more complete race out there. We will have to as the competition is going to get harder.”

Tuesday will see five Australian crews take to the water with quarter-finals of the men’s and women’s single sculls as well as semi-finals of the men’s pair, women’s double sculls and men’s double sculls.

 

Lucy Benjamin

olympics.com.au

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