By Mark Etheridge
When national rowing coach Roger Barrow reflects back on the South African team’s return on Lake Tangeum at the World Championships in Korea it’s with mixed feelings.
It’s now more than a year after the golden days of London where our lightweight fours pulled away from the rest of the world to take the global title and Barrow has long switched focus forward to Rio in 2016.
“I must be honest and say that the championships didn’t go as well as planned. We had certainly hoped for more, but on a positive side it is good to know that we now have four Olympic ┬áboats in the top eight in the world.
“This is one goal we have set for Rio ÔÇô┬áto qualify four boats,” he told Road to Rio on his return to South Africa this week.
Barrow went on to sum up each of our boat’s performance.
Men’s lightweight fours (Mike Voerman, Jon Smith, Lawrence Ndlovu, James Thompson)
“They had an inconsistent regatta,┬áonly putting one top race together ÔÇô that being their semi-final. It has been such a up and down year for them, with injuries to Matthew [Brittain] and Lawrence [Ndlovu]. The find of Mike Voerman has been great and especially with the ability to race at this level in his first senior international season, he must be given a lot of credit.”
Women’s pair (Naydene Smith, Lee-Anne Persse)
“They raced well in the heat and semi-final, but failed to step up in the final. They’ve consistently made it to the A-final. however a bigger step is needed to ensure a top-three finishing.”
Lightweight women’s double (Kirsten McCann, Kate Johnstone)
“Kirsten and Kate’s racing was the result of the week for me. This was Kate’s first senior international regatta ever, and the two raced as if they had done it many times. They weren’t fast enough to be in the A-final but they showed great determination and grit to ensure they finished second in the B-final coming 8th overall. Kirsten brings calmness and maturity to the boats which is so needed at this level. Two girls to really watch for the future.”
Men’s Pair (Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain)
“This was a below average performance from them, they had a poor week through the heats and semi-final as they were not able to find speed in the second half of the race. Under pressure they delivered a satisfactory result in the B-final, coming second to end the regatta off at eighth.”
Non Olympic boat
(Lightweight women’s single, Ursula Grober)
“This boat is to support the Olympic boat of the lightweight women’s double. ┬áAfter Ursula won bronze in Lucerne we tried to push on for a medal at the world championships. However we fell just short. Ursula rowed a good heat, a powerful semi-final but failed to get a quick enough start in the final to go with the front runners, ending up fifth.”