The New Zealand Junior Rowing Team is coming home with one silver medal and some valuable racing experience from the World Rowing Junior Championships in Trakai, Lithuania.
The junior champions for 2017 were decided today on the waters of Lake Galve, including three New Zealand crews facing A finals and three facing B finals.
The junior men’s four asserted themselves as the second-fastest in the world with a confident silver-medal performance.
Daniel Williamson, Thomas Russel, Matthew Macdonald and Ben Taylor were strong contenders after a solid performance in yesterday’s semi-final.
Today Great Britain dominated the race to take gold, but New Zealand stayed calm and collected to maintain their silver medal position down the course.
New Zealand stayed hot on the heels of the British, winding the pace up in the last 250 metres and leaving Romania and Croatia tussling for bronze. Romania eventually managed to get one up on Croatia to round out the podium.
“We just said go in the last 500 metres. They (Great Britain) are a class crew, and this is a really special environment.” said crew member Matthew Macdonald, who is competing at the championships for the first time.
The nerves were high in the men’s pair A final, with a false start from Sardor Tulkinkhujaev and Alisher Turdiev of Uzbekistan forcing a restart.
New Zealand’s Sam Jones and James Hall finished fifth in the hotly-contested event.
Jones and Hall started conservatively while Stefan Constantin-Berariu and Florin-Sorin Lehaci of Romania, brothers Patrik and Anton Loncaric of Croatia and Turkey’s Ayden Sahin and Ismail Ali Bekiroglu made a breakaway.
Unable to bridge the gap, Jones and Hall were fourth equal with Uzbekistan at the 1500 metre mark but were beaten to the line by less than a second. Croatia took gold, Romania silver and Turkey claimed bronze.
Grace Loveridge, Kate Haines, Grace Watson and Kate Littlejohn finished the regatta as the sixth fastest junior women’s four in the world.
The four couldn’t quite match the absolutely rocketing pace in the A final, hanging on gallantly but unable to move up through the field despite best efforts.
Croatia won gold with a commanding lead while Romania held second for silver and USA took bronze.
Single sculler Bradley Leydon finished his world championship campaign with a sixth place in the B final
Leydon charged out of the blocks, leading in the first half of the race before running out of gas and dropping back through the field.
Janis Timbors of Latvia claimed the victory with Jonas Juel of Norway in second and Fabian Baranski of Poland in third.
Grace Holland and Rosie Ireland put in a powerful sprint finish to claim fifth in the women’s pair B final.
Rachel Heap and Celia Matthews of Great Britain took a convincing win, followed by Belarus and the USA.
Holland and Ireland dug deep at the 1000 metre mark to move from sixth to fifth and put in an impressive sprint on the line, finishing in a time of 8:08.50.
Finn Jenkins, Mark Taylor, Luke Brady and Sam Monkley took sixth place in the men’s quadruple sculls B final.
The New Zealanders were sitting in fourth place at the 500 metre mark but by the mid way point all crews were within a length and a half of each other and the fight to the line was on.
It looked to be anyone’s race with crews ramping up the ratings in a final bid for victory however USA snatched the win in 6:17.89 with the Czech Republic taking second and Australia third.
The regatta concludes the season for the New Zealand Junior Rowing Team, who will now return to New Zealand before the domestic season begins later in the year.
Full results are available at worldrowing.com
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