By Mark Etheridge
Already qualified for the London Olympics later this year, our men’s fours rowing combination got their World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland off to a good start on Friday.
Said James Thompson: “We had a good row in the heat. Winning comfortably against World Cup 1 winners, Denmark. The weekend still has a long way to go, but we are happy with our opening race.”
Thompson, who occupies the bow set and “brings the big watts to the party”, is accompanied by John Smith, Matthew Brittain and Lawrence Ndlovu in the combination.
“We’ve had more than our fair share of injuries in the last three seasons, but since World Champs in Bled we have had a fully fit group. From the squad of lightweight men we are down to one change from that Bled qualifying regatta. Lawrence,┬á who had to battle with injuries last year is now in for Tony Palidan. This combination first raced in February in the Grand Challenge in East London.”
The Buffalo River event is South Africa’s most prestigious rowing event and while Thompson says that race wasn’t the best of rows they bounced back.
“We had some great racing at an international regatta in Italy after that, winning four out of four against some tough European crews.”
The crew have been extremely focused on this weekend’s World Cup. “Good speeds and racing here will set us up for the last block going into London. From here we head back to South Africa and more specifically ‘The Land of Speed, Ebenezer Dam and Tzaneen’ ÔÇô both venues 40 kilometres apart in Mpumalanga.
“This is the venue we call ‘The Land of speed’ as many South African crews have had good results coming off finishing camps there.
“All the crews racing at the Olympics except Italy and the two late qualifiers (USA and the Dutch) are racing this weekend so we will go forward from hear with a good idea of the work needed,” concluded Thompson.