Australia still sits top of World Rowing Cup table23 June 2014
ROWING: The victors of World Rowing Cup I, Sally Kehoe and Olympia Aldersey, continued their winning ways yesterday by securing gold for Australia in the final of the Women’s Double Sculls at World Rowing Cup II in Aiguebelette, France.
The duo, who are coached by Jason Lane in South Australia, led the final from the start but the USA crew, of Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek, and the Polish duo of Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj, pushed and pulled in a bid to catch up with the inform Kehoe and Aldersey.
However, the day belonged to the ladies in green and gold as they cruised to victory with a time of 6:53:90, and a winning margin of 1.43 seconds over the USA who were followed closely by the current European Rowing Champions, Poland.
A delighted Kehoe said post-race: “We’re still a relatively new combination, so each new race is a stepping stone for the World Championships later this year.
“We’ve been out training at the AIS European Training Centre for a week before we travelled to Aiguebelette and we’re pleased to walk away with our second gold of the World Cup season but we can’t be complacent, there’s still plenty of racing and work to be done.”
In the Men’s Double Sculls, Alexander ‘Sasha’ Belonogoff and new partner James McRae started in Lane Three and were in a tough field, alongside current World Champions, Norway, and a strong Croatian duo of brothers Martin and Valent Sinkovic.
Belonogoff and McRae, who are coached by Rhett Ayliffe, worked hard through the race, which saw Azerbaijan’s Aleksander Aleksandrov and Boris Yotov push hard out from the start in a bid to get a lead on the favoured Croatians.
They managed this at the 700m mark but the Sinkovic brothers seemed unfazed and ultimately they powered through to claim the victory but not before being put under pressure by both Australia and Azerbaijan.
The excitement came in the final throws of the race with Australia’s double closing ranks on a tiring Azerbaijan in what was to be a photo-finish for second and third place. Australia lost out on a silver medal by just 0.05 seconds, and to highlight how close a race it was, there was just 0.99 seconds between first placed Croatia and Australia in third.
McRae commented after receiving his bronze medal: “"It was a good race and our first race together internationally. We still have a lot to work on before Lucerne but it was a good start. This combination is going really well for us.”
Australia’a Men’s Coxless Four started in the final of their event in Lane Three, with the favourites Great Britain 1 next to them. The race ultimately proved to be a battle for second and third, with Great Britain 1 storming into the lead straight out of the blocks.
Joshua Dunkley-Smith, stroking the boat, with Fergus Pragnell, Spencer Turrin and Christopher Cunningham-Reid, the latter in for an injured Alexander Lloyd, battled with the USA in Lane Five throughout the race but it was to be Australia’s fight at the finish that secured them the silver over the USA, by a mere 0.09 seconds.
The current Olympic champions, Great Britain 1, powered their way through the final to finish with a time of 5:50:27, in temperatures approaching 31 degrees, while Australia finished 5.58 seconds behind the victors.
Dunkley-Smith said post-race: “It was a good race. We had a couple of scrappy moments at the start with the conditions but we’ve been focusing on building and we executed the race we had planned.
“It now about moving on from here and focusing on World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne and the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. Alexander Lloyd will be back for the final round of WRC III, but credit to Christopher Cunningham-Reid who came in and performed well with the crew.”
With the three medals secured, the points accrued at this event means Australia still tops the World Rowing Cup table with 91 points, leading its closest rival, New Zealand, by 10 points, while Great Britain sits in third place.
Head Coach – Integration, Drew Ginn, said of this weekend’s racing: “We came to this regatta to give our higher ranked crews an opportunity to race and they have performed well but there is still plenty of work to be done prior to Amsterdam.”
The two lightweight women’s crews who travelled to WRC II in Aiguebelette, did not qualify for A-Finals at the event, however did compete in B-Finals yesterday.
Maia Simmonds finished second in the B-Final of the Lightweight Women’s Single Scull while Alice McNamara and Ella Flecker finished in third place in their B-Final for the Lightweight Women’s Double Scull.
The next World Rowing Cup event takes place in Lucerne from 11 to 13 July. In the interim, some of the Australian Rowing Team will be competing in regattas in Europe.