The South African rowing team enjoyed their most productive Rowing World Cup at the first leg in Varese, Italy over the weekend winning two gold medals and two bronze medals in four different Olympic boat classes.
The crews got their international campaign off to a superb start with 2014 world champions James Thompson and John Smith clinching gold in the men’s lightweight double sculls while Kate Christowitz and Lee-Ann Persse won the women’s pair title.
The men’s pair of Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling won the bronze medal with Ursula Grobler and Kirsten McCann finishing third in the women’s lightweight double sculls boat.National rowing coach Roger Barrow said although he was delighted with the medal haul some of the boat classes were not at full strength.
“I think that is the first time we’ve ever won a gold medal at a World Cup but there are a few big countries missing, like the French, the Kiwis and Great Britain,” Barrow said.
“We always expect to win so it is nice to get some medals, we learned a lot this weekend, I think there is still a lot of work to do in certain areas.”Some things got exposed and we will be working hard on those things over the next couple of weeks.”Barrow was most impressed by the performance of the men’s pair crew of Keeling and Brittain, who won their heat on Friday before finishing second behind eventual silver medallists, Netherlands, the next day.
They maintained the third position throughout the final finishing behind Great Britain’s Matthew Tarrant and Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell in first place and the Dutch crew of Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman.”From our side the best performance was probably the men’s pair because they had really good competition,” Barrow said.
“I was really chuffed with where those guys came very close to the top end and I think that is probably my best result.”