Glittering penultimate day at world rowing championships
The New Zealand Elite Rowing Team had a successful penultimate day of racing at the 2017 World Rowing Championships claiming a gold, silver and bronze medal.
Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler took gold in the women's pair, while lightweight double scullers Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle claimed silver and the men's pair of Tom Murray and Jamie Hunter secured bronze.
PHOTO CREDIT: STEVE MCARTHUR/ROWINGNZ
Conditions were perfect for racing with flat water, light winds and slightly cooler temperatures than those seen earlier in the week.
Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler were crowned the 2017 women's pair world champions.
The world best time holders were simply in a league of their own as they led the field down the course, crossing the line in a time of 7:00.03.
While Prendergast and Gowler maintained an untouchable lead the battle was on for the minor medals between USA's Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser and Rio bronze medallists Hedvig Rasmussen and Christina Johansen of Denmark.
USA eventually got the edge to claim silver, four seconds behind the New Zealanders, while Denmark had to settle for bronze.
Stroke Kerri Gowler said the pair had a nervous wait until the final.
"It's been a long week of nerves, so we're really pleased to have got this today. We thought it might come down to a sprint at the end, so we went out hard and tried to complete.
We had taken confidence from our season but when it comes down to the final anyone can do anything, so we're stoked to come away with the win."
The lightweight women's double sculls duo of Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle took silver in a thrilling final race.
The tone was set from the start with all crews sitting within a second of each other at the 500 metre mark.
World cup gold medallist McBride and Kiddle made their move at 850 metres with Ionela-Livia Lehaci and Gianina-Elena Beleaga of Romania and Emily Schmieg and Michelle Sechsher of the USA matching and shattering the field.
The three crews battled bow ball to bow ball down the course in a nail biting drag race.
With all three fighting for gold it came down to a photo finish with Romania snatching the win in a time of 6:55.88, nudging New Zealand into silver just 0.2 seconds behind and USA taking bronze.
Zoe McBride described the frantic pace of the final,
"The last 150m was just tunnel vision, I said to Jackie, go go go. It was the best race we could have done today."
Tom Murray and James Hunter claimed the bronze medal in a sensational men's pair final.
Murray and Hunter flew out of the start to lead the field along with Martin and Valent Sinkovic, the Croatian Olympic champions in the double sculls who made the switch to sweep rowing this year.
The New Zealanders went stroke for stroke with the Sinkovic brothers while European champions Matteo Lodo and Guiseppe Vicino of Italy chased the duelling pairs to form a breakaway front pack.
With 250 metres to go all eyes were on Murray and Hunter, who looked to just have the edge over the Sinkovic brothers, but Italians turned the table with a devastating 46 stroke rate sprint.
The Croatians switched on the afterburners to match while Murray and Hunter were left desperately trying to hang on but were simply out of gas to get past the now flying Italians.
Lodo and Vicino crossed the line for gold in a time of 6:16.220 with Croatia just 0.3 seconds behind to claim silver and Murray and Hunter bronze.
"We just didn't have the extra gear to hold off the Italians at the end. It's a full field of really good crews, I think we gave it our best crack." Said stroke Jamie Hunter after the race.
Other racing of the day saw the men's and women's four and the men's quadruple sculls contesting B finals.
The men's quad of Giacomo Thomas, Nathan Flannery, Cameron Crampton and Lewis Hollows channelled their frustration at narrowly missing an A final berth to take a convincing win in the B final in a time of 6:46.210 ahead of Germany and France.
The women's four of Charlotte Spence, Beth Ross, Kirstyn Goodger and Jackie Gowler sprinted to fourth place in their B final.
The four made an impressive comeback after sitting at the rear of the field, finishing in fourth place behind Great Britain, Italy and Canada, who took third by just 0.1 seconds ahead of the New Zealanders.
The men's four of Alex Kennedy, Cameron Webster, Charlie Rogerson and Anthony Allen took sixth place in an absolutely blistering B final which saw finish times faster than those seen in the A final.
Spain took the win in 5:54.100 with Canada taking second and France third.
Racing concludes tomorrow with further A finals including the men's single sculls, men's and women's double sculls and the men's and women's eight as well as the women's single sculls B final.
Schedule, start lists and results online at worldrowing.com