Johannesburg – The South African team remained on course to earn Olympic qualification at the World Rowing Championships in France on Wednesday.
Four South African crews will be rowing in the semi-finals of their respective events and would be guaranteed Olympic qualification should they make it into finals.
The men’s and women’s lightweight crews powered their way into the next round in their quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Defending World Champions James Thompson and John Smith led their men’s lightweight double sculls race from start to finish to post the fastest time of all the quarter-finals.
Their time of six minutes, 22.97 (6:22.97) was nearly two seconds faster than the United States’ Andrew Campbell and Joshua Konieczny in second place.
“Today we had a pretty straight-forward paddle and we just got the job done but we were surprised by the time,” said Thompson, who is one of the Tuks-HPC sponsored athletes.
“We are looking forward to the semi-final, we have a pretty decent draw where we have some decent guys in our semi.
“We need a top-three and we are confident to be able to get into the final.”
The lightweight women’s double sculls crew of Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler also coasted through their quarter-final to book a place in the semi-final.
The duo were in the driving seat from the start, winning the race by three seconds to go through to advance to the next round.
In the men’s pair quarter-finals Shaun Keeling and David Hunt also claimed a semi-final berth finishing their race in second place behind the French crew of Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette.
The day before Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse won their repechage in the women’s pair to qualify for Thursday’s semi-final.
South African rowing coach Roger Barrow said he was delighted with the team’s performances so far at the championship, with four of them standing a very strong chance of qualifying for Rio 2016.
“I am happy that those three boats all got into a semi along with Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse from Tuesday’s repechage, so all four boats are through to semis to fight it out for the A finals,” he said.
“It is important for Olympic qualification that we get into A finals because then that Olympic berth is guaranteed, and if they end in a B final they have to make sure they don’t come last.”
Meanwhile, the men’s coxed pair of Leo Davis and Jake Green with Willie Morgan as coxswain finished their repechage in third place for a spot Friday’s A final.