South Africa’s elite rowing squad are back home after medalling at the weekend’s World Cup III event in Lausanne, Switzerland, writes MARK ETHERIDGE.
National coach Roger Barrow took a small squad of seven rowers to Europe and it was the men’s fours who brought home the bacon for SA as they won bronze.
It’s a new-look fours outfit that took to the lake. Rio Olympians John Smith and David Hunt were still there but joining them were youngsters Kyle Schoonbee and Sandro Torrente.
Barrow told Team SA: ‘This same combination came ninth in the previous World Cup, which was disappointing but we’ve worked very hard this last week and the medal showed that it’s gone well.
‘It was a good bronze. They were in the silver-medal position for a lot of the race but tired near the end. We’re normally fast finishers so the slowing at the end shows the work they’ve put in.
‘With the fours, it’s never easy. There are always expectations and they feel the pressure but it’s good that they can do well. We can definitely improve but the good thing is that all the top crews were there except for Romania.’
Added Hunt: ‘We’re very happy with the result, the crew has changed since last year and we have had a bit of an up-and-down season. We felt like we were moving in the right direction before this event and the result confirms this feeling for us.’
Missing from the boat on this occasion were Rio Olympian Lawrence Brittain and Jake Green.
The former is having some complications from the chemotherapy from his successful battle against cancer while Green has compartment syndrome of the muscles in his forearm.
‘They’re both training hard and may be back for senior worlds where I may try them in a pair.’
Moving on to the lightweight women’s doubles combination of Kirsten McCann and Nicole van Wyk. McCann, the 2017 singles world champion, teamed up with U23 single world championships bronze medallist Van Wyk.
Barrow said: ‘I’m a bit disappointed, I thought they’d medal but they got fourth. The margins in women’s rowing are always closer but we should be medalling with this crew. Still, they’re a work-in-progress and the only two crews missing from their field were the Dutch and the Italians.’
The final member of the squad was Vaughn Botes in the single skull.
This was his first time at a senior World Cup event. ‘He came fourth in the C-Final,’ said Barrow. ‘I was hoping he’d be in the B-Final because that’s his standard at the moment.’
This week sees the crew from World Cup III training by themselves to Barrow’s program until Monday when they take their places back in the main squad. Barrow will also be spending time working with Brittain and Green to get them up to speed.
Next up is the sending of an U23 squad to Poland. ‘When they get back, I’ll be working on selecting the team for the senior world championships [in Plovdiv, Bulgaria]. If the guys do well at U23, then they’ll have a great chance of making the team for senior worlds.’
Photos: The men’s fours and women’s doubles by Igor Meijer