Aussies strike gold with awesome win
3 September 2011
The Australian lightweight men’s four crew of Todd Skipworth (WA), Ben Cureton (WA), Sam Beltz (TAS) and Anthony Edwards (TAS) has won gold at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
The gold medal was Australia’s first in the boat category since 1981, a period in which three silver medals and one bronze medal had been won.
The victory was extra sweet for Australia’s lightweight veteran Anthony Edwards, 38, who during his career had picked up a combined total of seven Olympic and world championship silver and bronze medals, but never a gold.
Edwards said the gold medal was a dream come true.
“It’s absolutely the sweetest thing you could ever get,” Edwards said. “I knew this would be my last go at a world championships but I knew we had the speed.
“I had a look a stroke to go before the line and knew we had it. We had pure confidence in each other and knew that if we got it right anything could happen.
“We can now knuckle down before next year with our coach Brett (Crow) and plan our campaign for London.”
The crew had only made one change from the silver medal winning boat from 2010, with dual Olympian Ben Cureton coming into the three seat, and following a good performance in the semi-final, Australia had confidence for the final.
Australia was in second place at the halfway mark but had Italy firmly in their sights and following a flying third 500m surged to the front.
They crossed the line in a time of 5:55.10, over a second clear of Italy and embraced each other in the boat to celebrate the victory. Great Britain claimed the bronze medal.
Stroke of the crew Todd Skipworth said a gold medal capped off the season.
“You always know the margins are going to be tight in lightweight racing and we had a fairly distinct plan and wanted to push that third 500m hard,” Skipworth said. “We knew we were fit enough to make a few crews hurt and we nailed the race plan.
“Last year was a surprise with the silver medal as we had only just got back together, but we worked really hard this year and to win the gold is something special.”
The gold medal capped off an excellent day for the Australian team with the men’s coxed pair of James Chapman (NSW) and Will Lockwood (VIC), coxed by David Webster (VIC) winning silver, and Erik Horrie (QLD) claiming bronze in the arms, shoulders men’s single scull.
The men’s coxed pair led before the charge to the line saw Italy pass the Australian crew to take the gold medal, with Australia finishing in a time of 6:58.20.
Horrie meanwhile claimed bronze in his first world championships, recording a time of 5:04.75 to finish behind Great Britain and Russia.
In the other A Final of Friday racing, 2008 Olympic champions Scott Brennan (VIC) and David Crawshay (VIC) finished a narrow fourth in the men’s double scull.
Brennan and Crawshay were just 0.36 of a second behind bronze medallists France, while New Zealand won the gold ahead of Germany.
Australia has now won four medals at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships and will contest another three A Finals on Saturday (September 3).
The regatta concludes on Sunday (September 4), where Australia could feature in a maximum of four A Finals.