Dunkley-Smith shines at rowing trials
11 December 2015
ROWING: London Olympic silver medallist Josh Dunkley-Smith is leading the charge for Rio after a star showing at this week's rowing selection time trials.
The 26-year-old Melburnian was a member of the Australian men's coxless four in London and appears on track to again contest the event made famous in 1992 by the Oarsome Foursome.
At time trials and racing held at the international regatta course in Penrith Dunkley-Smith linked with Josh Booth to win the two kilometres race and excelled in the four.
That came after he last month set a world record on the ergometer over five kilometres.
"Josh is in good physical form and showed some good speed in the pair," said national team performance director Chris O'Brien.
Dunkley-Smith was set to compete in the men's eight at the recent world championships in France but injury to one of the members of the four, Alex Lloyd, meant he was drafted in.
That crew finished second to qualify the boat for Rio and while the actual make-up won't be finalised until mid-February he put his hand up to hold his spot.
Another of the crew from the London Games and in France, Will Lockwood, said a fit Dunkley-Smith was crucial to Australia's gold medal hopes.
"He's a phenomenal athlete and he's needed in the four for sure," Lockwood said.
"He's back to where he should be with his capacity and ability."
Lockwood and his pair partner Alex Hill finished second behind the Dunkley-Smith boat in Penrith to also push their case.
"We definitely didn't do ourselves any harm," he said.
"It would have been good to put it beyond doubt that we are the top pair but we are in the mix."
O'Brien said he had been pleased with the improvement in performances in many of the categories, particularly the men's scullers.
"We were silver medallists in the men's quad last year so that's a pretty hot field for us at the moment and there's some good competition in both the quad and the double."
The rowers will go into camp next week before more trials in late January and the final Olympic selection event in February.