South Africa’s men’s four booked their spots at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday by winning rowing’s Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The qualification regatta offered 29 tickets to the Tokyo showpiece in 14 boat classes.
The men’s four produced one of the highlights of the regatta where South Africa and Canada came into the A-final as the winners of their respective semi-finals with almost identical times.
South Africa, whose crew includes Olympic medallists John Smith and Lawrence Brittain (pictured), came to Lucerne with their new-look crew and they seemed to be in good form. Canada boated a new line-up with Olympic silver medallist Will Crothers in the stroke seat. France used the same strategy, putting Olympic silver medallist Dorian Mortelette in the stroke seat.
South Africa took the early lead, with Canada and France behind. Canada decided to rate 40 strokes a minute down the entire course to try to catch the speedy South Africans.
The race was decided in the third quarter when Canada did not let up and France faltered slightly – it was enough. Into the final sprint, France could not make up the deficit. South Africa and Canada took the two qualification places.
‘There was a lot of pressure. we’ve spent lots of time on the repeated training. It was a good race all way through. Obviously, we are going to Tokyo for one reason – that’s to win, so in the next two months I will be all in that,’ said South Africa’s Kyle Schoonbee.