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2011 World Rowing Championships:
Rowing Australia media releases

Sunday 4 September
  Australia hits double figures in record world championship display
Saturday 3 September
  Australia soaring towards record medal tally
  Australia qualifies 10 boats for Olympics
Friday 2 September
  Australia strikes gold in awesome performance
  Australia sculls its way to London
Thursday 1 September
  Bronzed pair revels in world championship success
  Olympic champions qualify boat for Australia
  Horrie leads Australia to more Paralympic qualification
Wednesday 31 August
  Australia continues charge towards London
Tuesday 30 August
  Australian quartet ride Olympic wave
  Australia books Paralympic ticket in Slovenia
Monday 29 August
  Horrie marks debut with semi-final berth
Sunday 28 August
  Australia enjoys positive start at world championships
  Paralympic dreams on the line with one year to go
Friday 26 August
  Australia faces early German challenge

Sunday 4 September

Australia hits double figures in record world championship display

The Australian Rowing Team has won two more medals on the final day of competition at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia to record its highest ever tally.

The lightweight men’s eight snatched gold on the line from Italy, while the men’s four won bronze to leave Australia with ten medals across the eight day regatta, including three gold, four silver and three bronze.

It eclipses Australia’s eight medals from last year and included a crucial five Olympic class and two Paralympic class medals in a strong sign of intent ahead of the London Games next year.

The lightweight men’s eight trailed Italy until the closing stages of the race before a last ditch push on the line led them to a 0.16 of a second victory in a time of 5:44.57.

Coxed by David Webster (VIC), the crew of Blair Tunevitsch (TAS), Tom Gibson (TAS), Alister Foot (TAS), Rod Chisholm (NSW), Nick Baker (TAS), Darryn Purcell (QLD), Tom Bertrand (VIC) and Ross Brown (WA) won Australia’s first gold medal event in the discipline since 1997.

Webster said the result was too close to tell on the line.

“To be honest when we hit the line I thought we might have been behind,” Webster said. “We gave them a bit going into the last 500m but produced a great finish.

“When the result came up on the screen it was incredible and the end of a lot of hard work from the boys.”

Australia’s men’s four swept to bronze in their final after getting a flying start to set the tone of the race through 500m.

Joshua Dunkley Smith (VIC), Nicholas Purnell (NSW), Drew Ginn (VIC) and Sam Loch (NSW) were second behind Great Britain heading into the final quarter of the race but were not quite able to hold off Greece, before crossing the line to win bronze in a time of 5:58.44.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Ginn, 37, added to the eight world championship medals he had already won in his decorated career, while Dunkley Smith, Purnell and Loch won their first world championship medal in a coxless four, having won bronze as part of the men’s eight last year.

Ginn, who will aim for his fourth Olympic gold medal next year in London paid credit to his young crew.

“We took a fantastic step towards London next year,” Ginn said. “It would have been disappointing not to come here this year and perform and we are all pretty committed.

“All these guys are great young talents and they have really reinvigorated the whole squad.”

22-year-old Dunkley Smith said the crew’s quick start had been key.

“The Greek guys have been going out pretty quickly and getting a start on crews so we wanted to challenge that,” Dunkley Smith said.

“I think after a bit of down time this afternoon we will back into it tomorrow and looking to improve on this year’s work. We’ve come a long way this year and I’m as fit as I’ve ever been.

“Next year we’re really looking to take it up again.”

In the final Australian race of the regatta, the lightweight women’s double scull crew of Hannah Every-Hall (QLD) and Alice McNamara (VIC) finished fifth in the A Final.

Every-Hall and McNamara crossed the line just over a second outside the bronze medal position in a time of 7:05.70, with Greece winning the gold medal ahead of Canada and Great Britain.

In an eye catching performance at the world championships Australia firmly stated its intentions for next year.

Australian crews reached 16 A Finals in the 18 events it competed in, which led to the record breaking ten medals the team picked up.

In Olympic class boats Australia ranked third behind Great Britain and New Zealand, while in total medals won Australia finished equal second with Germany, four behind Great Britain’s 14.

The team qualified 10 of the 11 boats it attempted to qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games, while both adaptive crews won qualification for the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Rowing Australia National High Performance Director Andrew Matheson said the team had built good momentum ahead of London next year.

“We are really pleased with our work at the regatta and it is a great step forward for us ahead of London next year,” Matheson said. “Across all boat classes our crews put their hands up and showed what the team is capable of.

“We have received great support from the Australian Government through the Australian Sports Commission, as well as the Australian Institute of Sport, and the high performance funding received has certainly been a factor behind our success.

“The team will now move on from this regatta, re-assess and then firmly fix our sights on London next year.”

Rowing Australia will hold two rounds of selection trials at the Sydney International Regatta Centre, before nominating its team to the Australian Olympic Committee next April.

The first round of selection trials will be held in December (16–18), before the final round of trials is held from March 23–April 1 next year.

Australian medallists

Lightweight Men’s Four – GOLD
Men’s Quad Scull – GOLD
Lightweight Men’s Eight - GOLD
Women’s Double Scull – SILVER
Women’s Four – SILVER
Men’s Coxed Pair – SILVER
Men’s Four - BRONZE
Women’s Pair – BRONZE
Arms, Shoulders Men’s Single Scull – BRONZE
Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Scull - BRONZE

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Saturday 3 September

Australia soaring towards record medal tally

The Australia men’s quad scull has rewritten the history books by becoming the first Australian crew to claim a world title in the discipline this afternoon at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

In what has already become Australia’s equal best world championships on record, the men’s quad scull of Daniel Noonan (NSW), Karsten Forsterling (VIC), James McRae (SA) and Chris Morgan (SA) led the charge with gold, while Australia also won silver medals in the women’s double scull and women’s four and a bronze medal in the trunk and arms mixed double scull.

Australia achieved its largest medal haul at a world championship in New Zealand last year, collecting eight medals, and with Australian crews still to contest three finals on Sunday, that tally has already been equalled with two gold, three silver and three bronze.

In a dramatic finish to the men’s quad scull, the Australian crew’s pressure on leaders Germany caused the German number three seat to miss a stroke at the end of the race, allowing Australia to take victory by just 0.25 of a second.

The gold medal follows silver and bronze medals at the last two world championships for the men’s quad scull, with stroke seat Noonan the only member of all three crews.

Noonan said it felt great to break Australia’s hoodoo in the event.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Noonan said. “It’s been a long time coming for Australia in this boat class and to finally achieve that long standing goal the year before the Olympics is pretty special.

“I feel sorry for the German boys for not getting that last stroke right but that’s racing and we were there when it counted.”

The women’s double scull of Kim Crow (VIC) and Kerry Hore (TAS) added to the medal rush with a brave silver medal, finishing just 1.25 seconds behind reigning world champions Great Britain.

In a barnstorming finish Australia and New Zealand flew at Great Britain over the closing 500m, with both crews reducing the gap by half a boat length.

Australia crossed in a time of 6:45.98 to win the silver medal, with New Zealand a further second back in third.

Hore, who partnered Crow for the silver medal last year, said the result would just fuel the flame ahead of London.

“We’re a bit disappointed with the silver medal but it really fires us up for next year,” Hore said. “We have a lot of faith in each other and our coach (Lyall McCarthy) and we are just going to get stronger over the next year together.”

Earlier in the finals program the trunk and arms mixed double scull crew of Kathryn Ross (VIC) and John Maclean (NSW) started the medal surge for Australia with bronze.

The 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games silver medallists, who have reunited as a partnership in a bid to row for gold next year in London, rowed through Ukraine in the last 100m to win the bronze medal in a time of 4:05.13.

The women’s four of Kate Hornsey (TAS), Pauline Frasca (VIC), Renee Chatterton (SA) and Peta White (SA) followed that result with a silver medal after finishing second behind the USA.

Stroked by Hornsey, who also won a silver medal in the women’s pair on Thursday, Australia tried to reduce the deficit over the last 500m but fell just 0.88 of a second short, recording a time of 6:31.18.

The lightweight women’s quad scull of Ella Flecker (TAS), Maia Simmonds (WA), Hannah Jansen (WA) and Alexandra Hayes (WA) finished sixth in their A Final, but with an average crew age of 22 they remain an exciting prospect for the future as Australia continues to build its depth in lightweight women’s rowing.

Australia will have the chance to improve on its current medal haul when it contests three A Finals on the final day of the regatta. Australia will chase medals in the men’s four, lightweight women’s double scull and lightweight men’s eight.

Australia has qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games 10 of the 11 crews it sent to the world championships, while both Paralympic crews also achieved qualification for London next year.

Australian medals to date

Lightweight Men’s Four – GOLD
Men’s Quad Scull – GOLD
Women’s Double Scull – SILVER
Women’s Four – SILVER
Men’s Coxed Pair – SILVER
Women’s Pair – BRONZE
Arms, Shoulders Men’s Single Scull – BRONZE
Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Scull - BRONZE

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Saturday 3 September

Australia qualifies 10 boats for Olympics

Australia has guaranteed itself 10 crews at the 2012 London Olympic Games following the successful qualification of its final three crews this morning at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

The men’s four, lightweight women’s double scull and men’s pair all secured their Olympic quotas for Australia during another promising session of rowing.

The men’s four of Joshua Dunkley Smith (VIC), Nicholas Purnell (NSW), Drew Ginn (VIC) and Sam Loch (NSW) finished second in their semi-final to secure themselves a place in the A Final on Sunday.

Australia led through 1500m before Greece moved through to win the semi-final, less than a second clear of Australia who recorded a time of 5:57.36.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Ginn will compete in his ninth world championship final tomorrow and look to add to the five gold medals, one silver and one bronze that he has won at world championships in his prestigious career.

Dunkley Smith, Purnell and Loch were all part of the Australian men’s four that won gold at World Cup 2 in 2010, with Ginn the only addition to the crew.

The lightweight women’s double scull of Hannah Every-Hall (QLD) and Alice McNamara (VIC) stormed home in their semi-final to claim the victory and send another Australian boat through to the A Finals.

Every-Hall and McNamara, who finished fifth at the 2010 world championships, qualified for the final in a time of 7:03.25 to lead home Canada and the United States.

By qualifying for the A Final, the lightweight women’s double scull ensured that Australia gained starts in 16 A Finals from the 18 boats they took to the regatta.

The men’s pair of Cameron McKenzie-McHarg (VIC) and Tom Larkins (VIC) won their B Final earlier in the morning to ensure that Australia will contest the event in London next year.

The Victorian duo was in sixth place through 1000m before rowing through the field to take a comfortable win in a time of 6:32.73.

Australia will race in five A Finals this afternoon as they aim to add to the four medals already won at the regatta.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Friday 2 September

Australia strikes gold in awesome performance

The Australian lightweight men’s four crew of Todd Skipworth (WA), Ben Cureton (WA), Sam Beltz (TAS) and Anthony Edwards (TAS) has won gold at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

The gold medal was Australia’s first in the boat category since 1981, a period in which three silver medals and one bronze medal had been won.

The victory was extra sweet for Australia’s lightweight veteran Anthony Edwards, 38, who during his career had picked up a combined total of seven Olympic and world championship silver and bronze medals, but never a gold.

Edwards said the gold medal was a dream come true.

“It’s absolutely the sweetest thing you could ever get,” Edwards said. “I knew this would be my last go at a world championships but I knew we had the speed.

“I had a look a stroke to go before the line and knew we had it. We had pure confidence in each other and knew that if we got it right anything could happen.

“We can now knuckle down before next year with our coach Brett (Crow) and plan our campaign for London.”

The crew had only made one change from the silver medal winning boat from 2010, with dual Olympian Ben Cureton coming into the three seat, and following a good performance in the semi-final, Australia had confidence for the final.

Australia was in second place at the halfway mark but had Italy firmly in their sights and following a flying third 500m surged to the front.

They crossed the line in a time of 5:55.10, over a second clear of Italy and embraced each other in the boat to celebrate the victory. Great Britain claimed the bronze medal.

Stroke of the crew Todd Skipworth said a gold medal capped off the season.

“You always know the margins are going to be tight in lightweight racing and we had a fairly distinct plan and wanted to push that third 500m hard,” Skipworth said.

“We knew we were fit enough to make a few crews hurt and we nailed the race plan.

“Last year was a surprise with the silver medal as we had only just got back together, but we worked really hard this year and to win the gold is something special.”

The gold medal capped off an excellent day for the Australian team with the men’s coxed pair of James Chapman (NSW) and Will Lockwood (VIC), coxed by David Webster (VIC) winning silver, and Erik Horrie (QLD) claiming bronze in the arms, shoulders men’s single scull.

The men’s coxed pair led before the charge to the line saw Italy pass the Australian crew to take the gold medal, with Australia finishing in a time of 6:58.20.

Horrie meanwhile claimed bronze in his first world championships, recording a time of 5:04.75 to finish behind Great Britain and Russia.

In the other A Final of Friday racing, 2008 Olympic champions Scott Brennan (VIC) and David Crawshay (VIC) finished a narrow fourth in the men’s double scull.

Brennan and Crawshay were just 0.36 of a second behind bronze medallists France, while New Zealand won the gold ahead of Germany.

Australia has now won four medals at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships and will contest another five A Finals on Saturday (September 3).

The regatta concludes on Sunday (September 4), where Australia could feature in a maximum of four A Finals.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Friday 2 September

Australia sculls its way to London

The Australian women’s double scull and men’s quad scull have secured A Finals starts after finishing first and second in their semi-finals this morning at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

On another morning of high quality racing, both crews also gained Olympic qualification for Australia in the respective categories and can now firmly set their sights on winning medals in the final.

The women’s double scull of Kim Crow (VIC) and Kerry Hore (TAS) produced an impressive performance in their semi final to record a boat length and a quarter victory over Ukraine, with Poland in third.

Crow and Hore led at every time check and after building a sizeable lead at the 1500m mark, completed their race in a time of 6:57.27.

The 2010 world championship silver medallists will now set their sights on challenging the British crew of Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins in the final, who have claimed the last two world championships.

Daniel Noonan (NSW), Karsten Forsterling (VIC), James McRae (SA) and Chris Morgan (SA) had earlier started the proceedings for Australia on Day 6 with a second place finish behind Germany in their semi-final.

Australia and Germany led the second semi-final down the entire 2000m course, with Germany crossing less than a second in front of Australia, who recorded a time of 5:47.58.

Noonan, Morgan and McRae are all survivors of the men’s quad scull that set the world’s best time at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, before going on to finish just 0.34 of a second off the bronze medal.

Noonan has been the mainstay of the boat at the past two world championships, where with a variety of partners, he has stroked the crew to silver and bronze medals in Poland and New Zealand.

Cameron McKenzie-McHarg (VIC) and Tom Larkins (VIC) finished fourth in their semi-final of the men’s pair, setting a time of 6:36.95.

The Victorian duo will race in a B Final tomorrow and will require a top five finish to qualify the boat for London next year.

Australia will race in four A Finals this afternoon with Erik Horrie (QLD) the first to compete in the arms, shoulders men’s single scull at 12.03 local time (8.03pm AEST), before the men’s coxed pair, men’s double scull and lightweight men’s four all take to the water in medal races.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Thursday 1 September

Bronzed pair revels in world championship success

The Australian women’s pair of Sarah Tait (VIC) and Kate Hornsey (TAS) have capped off their remarkable regatta by winning a bronze medal at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Hornsey and Tait secured Olympic qualification for Australia for the women’s pair yesterday after successfully qualifying for the A Final, and 24 hours later achieved double success by claiming the bronze medal behind New Zealand and Great Britain.

Their medal was all the more impressive considering Hornsey and Tait only came together as a pair on the Tuesday before the regatta, when Tait’s previous partner Phoebe Stanley was ruled out of the event with cardiac arrhythmia.

In the final, Tait and Hornsey controlled third place for the majority of the race with neither China, Romania or South Africa able to keep pace with the Australian combination, who clocked a time of 7:03.98.

Tait, co-captain of the Australian team and dual Olympian, said the bronze medal paid off some hard work.

“It’s really exciting to get the bronze medal,” Tait said. “Last year Phoebe and I got pipped for bronze by the USA but we knocked them out in the semis this year.

“We knew we’d be one step closer to a medal and it ended up that way. Hopefully we can set off a bit of a run for medals for Australia this week.”

Hornsey, who was a member of the women’s eight at the Beijing Games, was jubilant after the race.

“I am absolutely stoked with that performance,” Hornsey said. “We said that yesterday was the big one and we had to make sure we got in today’s final.

“Qualification for the Olympics was guaranteed yesterday and today we decided to have a bit of fun with it.

“We’ve only been together a week and had nothing to lose.”

In the three other A Finals contested on Day 5 of competition Australia picked up two fourth places and a fifth.

The men’s eight, coxed by Toby Lister (NSW) and containing Fergus Pragnell (NSW), Matt Ryan (NSW), Bryn Coudraye (SA), Tom Swann (VIC), Francis Hegerty (NSW), Joshua Booth (VIC), James Marburg (VIC) and John Linke (VIC) thrilled the crowd in a tight tussle against Germany, Great Britain and Canada.

With Germany set for the gold medal in the closing stages, Great Britain, Canada and Australia fought for the remaining medals, with the three crews only separated by half a second on the line.

Australia finished fourth in a time of 5:31.59, but it is a big step forward for a crew that had five world championship finalist debutants.

The women’s quad scull of Sally Kehoe (QLD), Brooke Pratley (NSW), Sarah Cook (ACT) and Amy Clay (NSW) also finished fourth after a tussle with New Zealand for the bronze medal.

Germany triumphed over USA for gold, while Australia crossed fourth in a time of 6:24.49, just over a second down on New Zealand.

The lightweight men’s pair of Blair Tunevitsch (TAS) and Tom Gibson (TAS) finished fifth in their final, recording a time of 6:35.90, with Great Britain sealing the gold medal.

Earlier on Day 5, the Australian men’s double scull and lightweight men’s four secured Olympic qualification after qualifying for their respective A Finals, while Erik Horrie won through to the A Final of the arms, shoulders men’s single scull to gain Australia a berth next year at the Paralympic Games.

At the conclusion of Day 5 Australia has now qualified five boats for the 2012 London Olympic Games and a further two for the London Paralympic Games, with five Olympic class crews still holding a chance to qualify their respective boats later in the week.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Thursday 1 September

Olympic champions qualify boat for Australia

2008 Beijing Olympic champions Scott Brennan (TAS) and David Crawshay (VIC) have successfully qualified the men’s double scull for next year’s London Games on Day 5 of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

The lightweight men’s four of Todd Skipworth (WA), Ben Cureton (WA), Sam Beltz (TAS) and Anthony Edwards (TAS) also qualified their boat for London, as both crews progressed to the A Final of their respective events at the picturesque Lake Bled.

Midway through the regatta, Australia has now qualified five boats for the 2012 London Olympic Games and a further two for the London Paralympic Games, with a further five Olympic class crews still with the chance to qualify their respective boats later in the week.

Crawshay and Brennan, who only resumed as a combination this year after Brennan took two years away from the sport after Beijing, finished third in their semi-final behind Germany and Great Britain.

All three crews finished well clear from the rest of the field, with Germany taking a half boat length win over Great Britain, with Australia a further quarter length back in a time of 6:22.91.

Crawshay will now have the chance to add to the silver and bronze medals he won as part of Australia’s quad scull the past two years, while Brennan will row for his first world championship medal.

The lightweight men’s four of Skipworth, Cureton, Beltz and Edwards finished second in their semi-final which contained the top four place getters from last year’s world championships.

The Australian crew, which boasts a combined total of eight Olympic Games appearances between them, claimed second place behind world champions Great Britain in a time of 5:58.35.

With Cureton the only new member of the crew that won silver at last year’s world championships, Australia can now once again set their sights on a medal in the final.

Australia will contest four A Finals this afternoon with the women’s quad scull, women’s pair, men’s eight and lightweight men’s pair all chasing medals in their respective events.

The lightweight men’s pair of Blair Tunevitsch (TAS) and Tom Gibson (TAS) will be first crew to contest on A Final at 12.28pm local time (8.28pm AEST).

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Thursday 1 September

Horrie leads Australia to more Paralympic qualification

Queenslander Erik Horrie has qualified the arms, shoulder men’s single scull boat for Australia for next year’s London Paralympic Games this morning at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Horrie, who is making his world championships debut, finished second in his semi-final behind three-time world champion and reigning Paralympic champion Tom Aggar (GBR).

It earned Horrie a berth in the six-boat A Final, and with eight boats guaranteed Paralympic qualification, Horrie can now switch his sights to winning a world championship medal.

Horrie began slower than his opponents in the semi-final, but by the halfway point of the 1000m race he had begun to draw close to the Chinese, USA and New Zealand scullers in a battle for second place, while Aggar led the field.

Horrie took command of second position in the push for the line and crossed in a time of 5:17.68, just over four seconds behind Aggar, but a clear boat length ahead of the USA.

Horrie said qualifying the boat for the Paralympics was a big step and a proud moment.

“Certainly the main aim of the whole regatta was to qualify the boat for the Paralympics,” Horrie said. “Now that I’ve done that I can concentrate on the final tomorrow.

“We had a meeting before the race and had the plan set down pretty solid. I had confidence in my own ability and I got the result at the end of the day.”

Australia has now qualified both its adaptive crews for the 2012 London Paralympic Games, after Kathryn Ross (VIC) and John Maclean (NSW) qualified the trunk and arms mixed double scull on Tuesday.

Horrie will race in the A Final of the arms, shoulders single scull tomorrow (September 2), while Ross and Maclean will contest their final on Saturday (September 3).

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Wednesday 31 August

Australia continues charge towards London

Australia has continued its successful start to the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships by qualifying two more boats for the 2012 London Olympic Games this afternoon in Bled, Slovenia.

Cheered on by a parochial contingent of Australian supporters both the men’s eight and women’s pair won through to their respective A Finals to guarantee Australia representation in both boat classes next year in London.

For the women’s pair it was another remarkable step for the crew that only came together on Tuesday last week following the withdrawal of Phoebe Stanley (VIC) due to cardiac arrhythmia.

2008 Beijing Olympian Kate Hornsey (TAS) was called in to join dual Olympian and Australian co-captain Sarah Tait (VIC) in the crew and in the semi-final today the pair finished second behind New Zealand to confirm their place in the medal race tomorrow.

Hornsey and Tait led world champions New Zealand through 500m, but following New Zealand assuming the lead and a challenge from Romania, the Australian duo upped their pace in the closing stages to finish second behind New Zealand in a time of 7:13.43.

Tait said the pair had come together really well in the last week.

“Our main task when we came here was to qualify the boat and it was a big challenge following the crew change earlier in the week, but we did it,” Tait said. “We can now go into the final with nothing to lose.”

Hornsey reflected on the importance of qualifying the boat for the Olympics.

“We’re very excited and very relieved,” Hornsey said. “Once you’re into the A Final you know you’ve qualified the boat for the Olympics.

“It was a pretty brutal race today and we had to be on our game to get through.”

The Australian men’s eight’s semi-final followed directly afterwards and coxed by Toby Lister (NSW), the crew of Fergus Pragnell (NSW), Matt Ryan (NSW), Bryn Coudraye (SA), Tom Swann (VIC), Francis Hegerty (NSW), Joshua Booth (VIC), James Marburg (VIC) and John Linke (VIC) finished third behind Great Britain and Canada.

Australia held off a challenge from China over the closing 500m to claim the final qualifying spot for the final in a time of 5:33.79, finishing just over half a boat length behind Great Britain.

2008 Olympic silver medallist from the men’s four, James Marburg, said the crew came to do a specific job.

“The first step is to qualify the boat for the Olympics and we missed out on doing that initially in 2007 so to do it this time around at the first stage is exciting,” Marburg said.

“Semi-final racing at world champs is do or die and we’re happy to just get through and can now have a real crack in the final.”

In other racing on Day 4 of the world championships, Australia’s women’s lightweight quad scull also qualified for the A Final with a commanding win in their repechage.

Ella Flecker (TAS), Maia Simmonds (WA), Hannah Jansen (WA) and Alexandra Hayes (WA) won their repechage by close to five seconds over Germany in a time of 6:41.29.

The Australian men’s four of Joshua Dunkley Smith (VIC), Nicholas Purnell (NSW), Drew Ginn (VIC) and Sam Loch (NSW) also controlled their repechage to safely progress to the semi-final stage of competition.

Guided by stroke Dunkley Smith, Australia recorded a time of 5:57.87 and on Saturday will have a chance to secure Australia’s place in the boat category in London next year with a top three finish in the semi-final.

The lightweight women’s double scull of Hannah Every-Hall (QLD) and Alice McNamara (VIC) also won their repechage to progress to the semi-finals, leading home Belgium by over four seconds in a time of 7:06.17.

The lightweight men’s pair of Blair Tunevitsch (TAS) and Tom Gibson (TAS) won through to the A Final with a second place finish in their semi-final. Tunevitsch and Gibson crossed second behind Great Britain in 6:39.71.

Nicholas Hudson (NSW) finished fourth in his heat of the men’s single scull and will now race for a place in the C Final.

Australia will contest four A Finals on Day 5 (Thursday 1 September), while a further three crews will race in semi finals.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships is available via live streaming at WCSN. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Tuesday 30 August

Australian quartet ride Olympic wave

The women’s quad scull today became the first Australian boat to qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games after winning through to the A Final at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

With seven quota places for next year’s Olympics available in the women’s quad scull event, the Australian crew of Sally Kehoe (QLD), Brooke Pratley (NSW), Sarah Cook (ACT) and Amy Clay (NSW) is now guaranteed a top-six finish.

After only narrowly missing out on qualifying for the final in their heat row on Sunday, Australia produced another classy performance in their repechage to lead home Ukraine by 1.34 seconds in a time of 6:22.31.

Toowoomba rower and stroke of the crew, Kehoe, said the crew had completed its first goal.

“We’re really happy with the performance today,” Kehoe said. “That’s our first goal and now we’re in the top six and can go for a medal.”

3-seat Pratley said the crew had confidence heading into the race.

“There was a lot of confidence that we could grind them (Ukraine) down and it was a good hit out for us,” Pratley said. “It was good for us to go through the repechage and gave us more time to gel ahead of the final.”

Three more Australian crews took significant steps to qualifying their boats for the London Games after winning through to the semi-final stage of the regatta.

The men’s double scull, lightweight men’s four and men’s pair all require top eleven finishes in the regatta to gain Olympic qualification, with all three crews now featuring in the last twelve boats of their respective classes.

Olympic champions Scott Brennan (TAS) and David Crawshay (VIC) won their repechage in style, overpowering the field in the final 1000m to cross the line in 6:15.11, over four seconds clear of Lithuania.

Australia’s lightweight men’s four crew, who are the reigning world championship silver medallists, won in similarly convincing fashion, with a five and a half second victory over the Czech Republic in their repechage.

Todd Skipworth (WA), Ben Cureton (WA), Sam Beltz (TAS) and Anthony Edwards (TAS) recorded a time of 5:54.34 to book their semi-final place.

The final Australian crew in action on Day 3, the men’s pair of Cameron McKenzie-McHarg (VIC) and Tom Larkins (VIC), surged home in the final 1000m to claim second place behind Germany.

McKenzie-McHarg and Larkins were fourth through 500m of the race but fought back strongly to finish in a time of 6:29.76.

The results capped another successful day for the Australian Rowing Team, who earlier secured its first 2012 London Paralympic Games qualification after Kathryn Ross (VIC) and John Maclean (NSW) won through to the final of the trunk and arms mixed double scull.

Seven Australian crews will be in action on Day 4 of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships, as Australia looks to continue its good run of results.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships will be available via live streaming at WCSN from Wednesday August 31. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Tuesday 30 August

Australia books Paralympic ticket in Slovenia

Australia’s trunk and arms mixed double scull have qualified for the 2012 London Paralympic Games this morning after winning their repechage to progress to the A Final at the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Kathryn Ross (VIC) and John Maclean (NSW), who will still have to be selected in the crew next year despite today’s success, are now guaranteed a top six finish at the regatta, with the top eight crews winning quotas for next year.

Ross and Maclean made a significant improvement from their heat row yesterday and with their victory became the first Australian crew to qualify for either the Olympic or Paralympic Games next year.

The Australian combination was 1.5 seconds down on Great Britain through 500m but surged past their rivals in the second half of the race to win by 1.1 seconds in a time of 4:10.82.

The silver medallists from the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games will now have the chance to chase a medal in the final on Saturday (3 September).

Penrith rower Maclean said that he and Ross pieced together a far better race.

“It’s fantastic to qualify the boat for the final and ultimately qualify it for the Games next year,” Maclean said. “Kat did a great job today and we can look forward to the A Final now.

“We turned it around pretty quickly from yesterday. We sat down as a crew and talked about what we needed to do and then went out and got the result today.”

Ross, who hails from Warrnambool but now trains out of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, said she was ecstatic with the result.

“It’s great that we have the first box ticked now,” Ross said. “Hopefully we can win a medal in the final but it will be very tight racing and very close.

“The qualification is definitely a weight off our shoulders. To have qualified the boat for Australia is great and now we can focus on the final.”

Australia will compete in four other repechages later on Day 3 of the world championships with the women’s quad scull having the chance to seal Olympic qualification if they progress to the A Final.

The men’s double scull, men’s pair and men’s lightweight four all race for places in the semi-finals of their respective events.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships will be available via live streaming at WCSN from Wednesday August 31. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Monday 29 August

Horrie marks debut with semi-final berth

World championships debutant Erik Horrie (QLD) has produced an excellent heat row to qualify for the semi-finals of the arms, shoulders men’s single scull on Day 2 of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Horrie, who is seeking to qualify the boat for the 2012 London Paralympic Games, built his speed throughout the race to finish a close second in his heat behind Russian sculler Alexey Chuvashev.

Horrie’s time of 5:09.98 was the third quickest qualifying time for the semi-finals and leaves him in good shape heading into the next round.

The 31-year-old Queenslander said he had achieved his first goal of the regatta.

“The plan was to go through to the semis so I am very happy with that,” Horrie said. “The Russian went out pretty quickly but I stuck to my plan from the start and the end result was what we wanted.”

In Australia’s other Paralympic boat category, Kathryn Ross (VIC) and John Maclean (NSW) finished behind world champions Ukraine in their heat of the trunk and arms mixed double scull.

Ross and Maclean were steady throughout the opening stage of the race before coming hard at the Ukranian combination in the final 500m.

The Beijing Paralympic silver medallists crossed three quarters of a boat length behind the Ukraine in a time of 4:15.23 and will race a repechage tomorrow in order to progress to the A Final.

The men’s coxed pair of James Chapman (NSW) and Will Lockwood (NSW), coxed by David Webster (VIC), won their heat to progress directly to the A Final.

Webster, who coxed Australia to a gold medal in the same non-Olympic boat category in 2010, once again got his timing in the race perfect as the Australian crew raced past Germany in the second 1000m to win in a time of 6:58.41.

In other racing on the second day of the world championships Australia’s lightweight women’s quad scull of Ella Flecker (TAS), Maia Simmonds (WA), Hannah Jansen (WA) and Alexandra Hayes (WA) finished second in their heat, while Hannah Every-Hall (QLD) and Alice McNamara (VIC) were third in heat 1 of the women’s lightweight double scull.

Both crews will contest repechages on Wednesday in order to progress to the next round of competition.

Five Australian crews will contest repechages on Day 3 (Tuesday August 30) with the men’s double scull, lightweight men’s four and men’s pair all aiming to reach the semi-finals, while the women’s quad scull and trunk and arms mixed double scull will aim to qualify for A Finals.

Full coverage of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships will be available via live streaming at WCSN from Wednesday August 31. Subscribe for free.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Sunday 28 August

Australia enjoys positive start at world championships

Australia’s women’s quad scull has come within a whisker of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games on the opening day of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships as Australia’s crews enjoyed a strong start in Bled, Slovenia.

The athletes were greeted by cooler conditions on the first day of racing following extreme heat in the days leading up to the main qualification regatta for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Australia’s crews claimed three race wins, six second places and two thirds in their 11 races, but all eyes were on the first event to offer Olympic qualification.

With one crew from each of the two heats of the women’s quad scull set to gain automatic qualification for the six-boat A Final, which would also guarantee a quota for next year (the top seven crews in the women’s quad scull gain Olympic qualification), the crowds were brought to their feet with a grandstand finish.

Stroked by Sally Kehoe (QLD), the Australian women’s quad scull also featuring Brooke Pratley (NSW), Sarah Cook (ACT) and Amy Clay (NSW), led the race for the first 1500m before New Zealand and current world champions Great Britain challenged.

New Zealand took the victory by just 0.42 of a second, while Australia finished in second position in a time of 6:22.89, with Great Britain another 0.17 of a second back in third.

Cook said the crew enjoyed the first hit out at the regatta.

“This was a really good first step in our regatta and we are looking forward to stepping it up in the repechage,” Cook said. “We have had a great training block at the AIS European Training Centre over the past six weeks and I think that showed today.

“We want to do a better job in the repechage though and we know what we need to do to achieve that.”

Australia will now row a repechage on Tuesday, with the top two crews from each repechage progressing to the A Final.

2010 world championship silver medallists Kim Crow (VIC) and Kerry Hore (TAS) were dominant in their heat of the women’s double scull to claim victory and progress to the semi-finals.

Crow and Hore led from start to finish, winning in a time of 6:56.50 and will receive a seeded lane for the semi-final.

Women’s double scull and Australian women’s head coach Lyall McCarthy said he was pleased with his crew’s first race.

“It’s been a long time and we’ve had six weeks preparing for this since Lucerne,” McCarthy said. “We’re ready to go now and it is good to get the first race out of the way.

“Our first step at this regatta was to have a better start than what we had in Lucerne and we’re just gearing up to put a little bit of speed into our formula now.

“Now we can step it up to see if we can really get a bit more action out of the start and light it up a bit.”

The men’s quad scull of Daniel Noonan (NSW), Karsten Forsterling (VIC), James McRae (SA) and Chris Morgan (SA) also won their heat as they look to add to silver and bronze medals won at the past two world championships.

Stroked by Noonan, Australia defeated Olympic champions Poland by over 2.5 seconds in a time of 5:49.23.

Australia’s lightweight men’s pair of Blair Tunevitsch (TAS) and Tom Gibson (TAS) won their heat with an impressive second 1000m that saw them overhaul Italy.

Tunevitsch and Gibson took the lead shortly after the 1000m buoys and were never headed, crossing the line in 6:36.04 and qualifying for the semi-finals.

Joining them at the semi-final stage was the women’s pair of Kate Hornsey (TAS) and Sarah Tait (VIC), who finished second behind Great Britain in their heat.

Hornsey only joined Tait in the crew on Wednesday following the withdrawal of Phoebe Stanley (VIC), but the pair looked comfortable together as they recorded a time of 7:12.22.

In other racing Australia’s men’s eight pushed world champions Germany down the course to finish second and qualify for the semi-finals, while David Crawshay (VIC) and Scott Brennan (TAS) will face a repechage despite finishing second in a solid row behind Germany in their heat.

Australia’s men’s four and lightweight men’s four crews both finished second in their heats and will row repechages later in the week in order to progress to the semi-finals.

Cameron McKenzie-McHarg (VIC) and Tom Larkins (VIC) finished third in the men’s pair, while Nicholas Hudson (NSW) also finished in third in the men’s single scull to move through to the quarter-finals.

Racing on Day 2 (Monday August 29) will commence at 9.30am local time with heats of the Paralympic boat classes.

Read race reports for all Australian crews.

See full Australian results.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Sunday 28 August

Paralympic dreams on the line with one year to go

Australia’s Paralympic rowing crews will commence their 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships campaigns tomorrow (August 29) in Bled, Slovenia.

On the day that Australia’s two crews race in the heats of the regatta, the world coincidentally will celebrate the one year to go mark for the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

The world championships provide Erik Horrie (QLD) in the men’s arms and shoulders single scull and Kathryn Ross (VIC) and John Maclean (NSW) in the trunk and arms mixed double scull the best opportunity to qualify for the showpiece of adaptive rowing next year.

Both crews require a top eight finish in their respective events to qualify the boats for the Paralympics.

Ross and Maclean have been through the qualification process before having won a silver medal at the 2007 FISA World Rowing Championships. They went on to narrowly miss the gold medal in Beijing, finishing an agonising 0.89 of a second behind the Chinese.

Maclean made his return to the Australian team this year following a break after Beijing and said the lure of Paralympic gold had brought him back.

“All going well and we will be able to qualify the boat this week and it will be a positive step in the right direction to next year,” Maclean said. “I am confident that we are good enough to qualify the boat and if we can do better than that it will be a bonus.

“My wife and I have a little baby boy now whose name is Jack and it would be nice to partner Kat (Ross) in the boat and win a gold medal and put it around his neck.”

Horrie meanwhile will make his world championships debut this week, capping off a whirlwind 12 months for the 31-year-old Queenslander.

Horrie only took up rowing in April 2010 but quickly took to the sport and edged out incumbent world champion representative Ben Houlison (NSW) for the position on the Australian team.

Horrie said the competition between the pair had really spurred him on.

“I’m over the moon to have actually been selected for the Australian team and making my debut at such a beautiful place is a bonus,” Horrie said. “I don’t think I would be here now where I am today if it wasn’t for Ben (Houlison) and the racing that we did in Australia because its brought our category to a new level.

“All is going to plan over here so far and I have a positive mindset and am looking forward to my first race on Monday.”

Horrie requires a top two finish in his heat to automatically qualify for the semi-finals, while Ross and Maclean can qualify with a top three finish in their heat.

Racing on day 1 of the regatta begins in just over one hour at 9.30am local time (5.30pm AEST).

Full coverage of the regatta.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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Friday 26 August

Australia faces early German challenge

The draw for the heats of the 2011 FISA World Rowing Championships has taken place this afternoon as the start of the regatta (August 28–September 4) looms in Bled, Slovenia.

All 68 nations competing in the regatta, which doubles as the main qualification event for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, were present at the draw which handed out a number of early tests for the Australian crews.

The Australian men’s eight has been drawn against reigning world champions Germany in their heat and will have a good chance to test themselves against the crew that has been dominant since 2009.

Coxed by Toby Lister, the crew will also face Poland and New Zealand in the four-boat heat, with three crews to progress directly to the semi-finals.

Men’s Eight coach Noel Donaldson said it gave the crew a good first hit out at the regatta.

“To draw the world champions in the heat is something that excites us a group and it will give us a good indicator of how we are progressing,” Donaldson said.

“We have also had some good racing against Poland over the past three years and you can never discount our neighbours from New Zealand.”

2008 Olympic champions Scott Brennan (TAS) and David Crawshay (VIC) also face Germany in their heat of the men’s double scull, with the winner guaranteed a birth in the semi-finals.

Brennan and Crawshay have been building steadily throughout the season since being reunited earlier this year and will relish the challenge against the improved German outfit.

2010 world championship silver medallists Kim Crow (VIC) and Kerry Hore (TAS) require a top-two finish in their heat against China, Belarus, Lithuania and Greece to advance to the semi-finals, while the men’s quad scull of Daniel Noonan (NSW), Karsten Forsterling (VIC), James McRae (SA) and Chris Morgan (SA) face the same scenario in a heat that contains current Olympic champions Poland.

Meanwhile, Australia’s women’s pair has been forced into a late crew change ahead of the start of the regatta, after Phoebe Stanley (VIC) was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia earlier this week.

The Geelong athlete will return home this evening, with 2008 Beijing Olympian and former world champion Kate Hornsey (TAS) taking her place in the boat alongside dual Olympian Sarah Tait (VIC).

Racing will commence on Sunday morning at 9.30am local time (5.30pm AEST), with Brennan and Crawshay the first Australian crew in action at 9.48am.

The full draw for Day 1 of racing is available here.

Full coverage of the regatta.

Media Contact: David Polglase +386 51 861 233

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