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Mixed fortunes for Aussie rowing crews

1 August 2012

ROWING: Day 4 of the Olympic rowing regatta provided a variety of results for the Australian crews as three advanced and two bowed out of medals contention at Eton Dorney.

On a day that was swept by rain and fluctuating winds, the lightweight men’s four and women’s eight advanced to the medal race, while Kim Crow impressed once again in qualifying for the semi-finals of the women’s single scull.

The gallant title defence of Olympic champions David Crawshay and Scott Brennan came to an end in the semi-finals of the men’s double scull, while Rod Chisholm and Tom Gibson were unable to advance to the semi-finals of the lightweight men’s double scull.

Crow continues to build her reputation as one of the world’s leading scullers and once again showed her dominance in the quarter-finals of the women’s single scull.

After missing the start slightly, the Victorian surged past her rivals and was in the lead through 500m, one that she extended over New Zealand’s Emma Twigg through 1000m.

Crow is firming as a strong medal chance in the event and it was easy to see why in the closing half of the race as she cruised to the line in the fastest time of 7:34.29.

The dual Olympian said she was enjoying her busy program.

“In some ways it’s the halfway point now because I’ve done three races, but in other ways it’s just the beginning because I have three really tough races to come,” Crow said.

“I’m really excited. Compared to the last Olympics I feel really prepared and that takes away a lot of the nerves and I am in really good form. I think I’m excited as anyone to line up on the start line.”

The lightweight men’s four faced a semi-final of death in the last race of the Day 4 program, with four of the finalists from the 2011 world championships as well as the in-form South African crew chasing a top three finish to progress to the final.

Denmark has a rich history in the Olympics in the lightweight men’s four and their crew showed their pedigree from lane 6 in the semi-final by jumping to a boat length lead early on.

The Australian four started slightly slower, but a superb push through the middle 1000m saw them move to second position.

The race to the line saw South Africa sneak into second behind Denmark, with the Australian world champions securing a place in the A final with third place.

Our 39-year-old veteran Anthony Edwards, who will row his last race in the final on Day 6, said the crew had room for improvement.

“We pride ourselves on our rhythm and that is what we back ourselves with to win our races,” Edwards said. “We didn’t hit that today in the first 500m, but had a good middle 1000 and showed our strength there.

“We will be confident in the final and we will be sneaking along in the outside lane. Today was as good as an Olympic final and we didn’t quite bring our A game but we made it through.”

Australia’s women’s eight also showed their fight in the repechage to finish third behind the Netherlands and Romania and earn their place in the final.

After a slow start to the race the Phoebe Stanley-stroked crew brought back ground on Romania and the Netherlands and also put a gap between themselves and Great Britain in fourth.

The crews crossed the line in that order, with all four progressing to the final, alongside already qualified USA and Canada.

The Olympic defence of David Crawshay and Scott Brennan ended in a cracking semi-final that featured some of the world’s best scullers.

Drawn in the difficult lane 1, the Aussie duo who rose to fame in 2008 in Beijing, battled the choppy water and were in third with 500m remaining.

The pair tired, however, in the closing stages and finished fifth behind Argentina, New Zealand and Italy, while the form crew leading into the regatta, Germany, also missed out on the A final.

The first medal races will be held tomorrow with Australia represented in all three A finals – the women’s pair, the women’s quad scull and the men’s eight.

David Polglase in London

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