New Zealand again got the business done during the second session of Olympic rowing heats.

There were four New Zealand crews in action and three of them progressed satisfactorily, leaving just the men’s eight consigned to the repechage route.

Current world champions Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler outclassed the field in their heat of the women’s pairs, winning easing up in 7min 19.08s from Denmark and Spain. They move into the semi-finals having already served notice they are one of the form teams.

In the men’s pair, Brook Robertson and Stephen Jones qualified for the semi-finals by finishing third in their heat in 6min 56.53s, though they were some distance behind Australia and Italy. Robertson and Jones have a New Zealand reputation to uphold in this event, which was dominated for the best part of a decade by the incomparable Hamish Bond-Eric Murray combination.

Robertson and Jones said they took a while to get used into the racing groove.

“It’s our first race as a pair this year,” Robertson said. “It felt quite strange and we were a little bit shellshocked at the start, but we did enough to qualify. We have a lot more to give.”

At home the pair have been training with the rest of the New Zealand rowing squad, lining up in handicapped events against various crews, but have not had full competitive races.

Robertson said racing against other crews gave the performance more edge and now it was just a matter of getting used to the extra intensity.

The New Zealand women’s eight won a thrilling battle with Canada to take their heat and so advance to the final – only one team from each of the two eights races gained automatic qualification for the final. The New Zealanders – Ella Greenslade, Emma Dyke, Lucy Spoors, Kelsey Bevan, Grace Prendergast, Kerri Gowler, Beth Ross, Jackie Gowler, Caleb Shepherd (cox) -  trailed for more than three-quarters of the race, but lifted their tempo in the closing stages and won in 6min 07.65s, just ahead of Canada, 6min 07.97s. China and Great Britain were further back. Prendergast and Kerri Gowler were having their second race of the day.

The New Zealand men – Tom Mackintosh, Hamish Bond, Tom Murray, Michael Brake, Daniel Williamson, Phillip Wilson, Shaun Kirkham, Matt Macdonald, Sam Bosworth (cox) - finished second and will have to race again in the repechage on Wednesday. The Netherlands, who finished in 5min 30.66s, outplaced the New Zealanders, 5min 32.11s, with Great Britain third.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Rowing
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