South Africa

Double silver for SA's lightweight rowers

2015-07-13 16:02
John Smith and James Thompson (Getty Images)
Johannesburg - South Africa's lightweight crews bagged two silver medals at the final leg of the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland over the weekend.

This was the country’s best effort yet at the annual regatta with the men’s and women's lightweight doubles boats rowing away with silverware.

Four boats in total made it into 'A' finals which bodes well for South Africa’s chances at the World Championships in France in little over a month.

National rowing coach Roger Barrow was delighted with the lightweight women's doubles crew if Ursula Grobler and Kirsten McCann's result.

"They led from the beginning right up to the last 250m and the New Zealanders just managed to get past them," Barrow said.

"The work paid off and we will do some more hard work. It is great to see them on the podium."

New Zealand's Sophie MacKenzie and Julia Edward outgunned them at the finish with the United States crew of Devery Karz and Michelle Sechser taking bronze.

Reining lightweight men's doubles world champions John Smith and James Thompson recovered from a relatively slow start to produce their characteristic surge for the silver.

The French duo of Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou, however, remained composed as they kept their unbeaten record for 2015 intact.

"We train to be faster than the others at the end of the race," Smith said. "Ideally we would like to use it as a defensive move, but it happens that we just have to attack with it."

Barrow said although it was disappointing to lose to the French, he was happy with the boat earning a second place.

"It was a great race for them. I was happy with their result getting silver as their event is very tight and very close," said Barrow, who is based at the Tuks-HPC in Pretoria.

"We raced a poor first 1 000m but a top quality second 1 000m which shows the hard work is paying off."

The women's pair of Lee-Ann Persse and Naydene Smith finished in a creditable fifth place in their boat class.

Barrow believed they would be able to improve on their speed in the next six weeks before the World Championships.

"It was a good result, we obviously always want more but we will push hard when we get home to get them faster for the World Championships," he said.

Shaun Keeling and David Hunt, who won the bronze medal in the men's pair at last year’s World Championships had to be content with sixth place.

This result did not sit well with Barrow as they will be looking to improve on last year's bronze.

"I expected more from them, they had a good first 500m but they dropped off speed from there," Barrow said.

The World Championships that will be held from August 30 to September 6 will be the Olympic qualifying event for Rio 2016 where each boat class have to finish in the top 11 to be slected.

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