Stellar weekend for Kiwi rowing and canoe slalom athletes

New Zealand has dominated the first regatta of the international rowing season at the World Rowing Cup in Poznan, Poland.

The New Zealand elite rowing team, competing in their first international event of the 2017 season, wrapped up the day with six medals – five gold and one silver – as well as two new world best times.

New Zealand’s gold medal haul came from the men’s single sculls, the women’s pair, the men’s and women’s double sculls and the women’s eight, while the men’s eight took home silver.

Today’s results have rocketed the team to the top of the medal chart and the world cup points leader board.

On the final day of racing Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler scored not only the first medal for New Zealand in the women’s pair but also a new world best time.

The duo, who have been training under coach Gary Hay, were dominant in their final, leading from the start and powering down the course with an unrelenting pace. Other crews had no choice but to fight for the minor medals as the kiwi duo crossed the line with a new world best time of 6.49:08.

“It was actually a really enjoyable race. We just wanted to push ourselves and see what we could do, not knowing how fast everyone else would be.” said Prendergast.

“We wanted to control it, but it felt like we had a lot of fun.”

Robbie Manson came into the men’s single sculls A final as the fastest qualifier and proved himself to be the new man to watch with a masterclass win and a new world best time.

Competing in the single sculls event at world cup level for the first time, Manson was a newcomer in a final stacked with the likes of world champion and Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin, Olympic champion Nico Stahlberg, under-23 world champion Tim Ole Naske and Olympic finalist Angel Fournier Rodriguez

However with a clear water advantage by the mid way point Manson, who is coached by Noel Donaldson, powered away to an untouchable lead and crossed the line to collect a gold medal with new world best time of 6:30.74, an incredible three seconds faster than the previous record set by Mahe Drysdale.

“I was never going out there to race the other guys, I was just going out to put out the best performance I could and I saw the numbers coming in the second half so I just put my foot down.” Manson said.

The New Zealand elite rowing team will now resume training before contesting the Henley Royal Regatta in Henley-on-Thames from 28th June - 2 July.

Meanwhile in the neighbouring Czech Republic Mike Dawson became the first New Zealander to win a World Cup canoe slalom medal.

The two time Olympian bettered three rivals on a tricky course to win the men's extreme canoe slalom final at the opening cup of the season in Prague.

 “It was a pretty cool race and it was cool to take it to the Czechs and win New Zealand's first cup medal," Dawson said.

"It was pretty flat tack top to bottom and you've got to do two gates, so it's full on, but once we came through the quarter-finals into the semis, it was anyone's race."

Fellow Kiwi, Rio Olympic silver medallist Luuka Jones, came within a touch of making the women's K1 final, finishing 12th in her semifinal run, while Rotorua paddler Zach Mutton finished seventh.

The Kiwi canoers don’t have long to rest with the next World Cup meet in Augsburg, Germany beginning June 23rd.

Mike Dawson Luuka Jones Grace Prendergast Kerri Gowler Robbie Manson Rowing Canoe/Kayak - Slalom
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