Day eight of the 2015 World Rowing Championships saw a flurry of medals for New Zealand rowing. Kiwi rowers won another four medals with gold from the womens double, silver from the womens eight and mens single and bronze from the mens double. It was a historical day for New Zealands big boats with both the mens and womens eight qualifying for the Olympic Games.
The New Zealand womens double of Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane looked strong and smooth as they came flying through the field in the second half of the race to take the lead and win gold. Their gold medal tops off a perfect season for the duo after they won gold at the second and third World Cup regattas. Eve Macfarlane commented, That was everything we could have dreamed of. We were both saying that we were visualising yesterday exactly how we wanted it to pan out and I think it was just as we imagined.
The New Zealand womens eight rowed a magnificent race to win silver behind powerhouse and reigning World Champions United States. The womens eight have well and truly claimed their Olympic qualification spot and make history becoming the first New Zealand eight to qualify for the Olympic Games. Coxwain Francie Lawson was elated to win silver, Its been a phenomenal experience, we created history in Lucerne and our big goal was Olympic qualification but to stand on the podium is an amazing experience. You couldnt ask for a better crew, theres just so much trust and confidence in each other.
Mens single sculler Mah Drysdale moved through the field and went toe for toe with rival and reigning World Champion Ondrej Synek. The two scullers were locked in a battle until the final stroke when Synek crossed the line inches ahead of Drysdale leaving him with silver.
Robbie Manson and Chris Harris remained calm under pressure in the mens double as they hung onto the race leaders throughout. The kiwi double had an impressive last 500 metres to push through Germany and win bronze.
The kiwi mens eight had a tough task up against some of the heavyweights of world rowing. The young crew punched well above their weight, they were right amongst the frontrunners but were unlucky to finish fourth in a photo finish. Their spot is also now secured for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and they are the first kiwi mens eight to qualify since 1984.
The mens lightweight four of Curtis Rapley, Alistair Bond, James Lassche, James Hunter were in the hunt behind race leaders Switzerland but were unable to keep up with the fast pace in the final stages and finished fourth, just missing out on a medal.
Rowing New Zealand have qualified nine boats (and a total of 33 athletes) so far for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and will look to qualify more at the qualification regatta next May. At the 2012 London Olympic Games the team was made up of eleven crews and 26 athletes. Rowing New Zealand High Performance Director commented, Rowing New Zealand are delighted with the performances of our athletes especially in a pre Olympic year with the standard of racing at such a high level. The level will step up again for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but were thrilled to have medaled in seven Olympic events at this champs, topping the medal table in Olympic events with three golds.