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Media release archive:
May to September 2008

September 2008

Wednesday 17 September

Donaldson returns as head coach

The Australian Institute of Sport and Rowing Australia today announced that Noel Donaldson has been appointed the Head National and AIS Men’s Coach.

Coming on the back of the recent recruitment of Andrew Matheson from New Zealand to head up Australia’s high performance program, Donaldson’s appointment is the second in a comprehensive restructure that will result in a leadership team that will be the envy of world rowing.

Donaldson will be familiar with his new role having previously held a similar position as Australian Men’s Head Coach for four years prior to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He is considered to be one of the world’s leading rowing coaches and was coach of the Oarsome Foursome at the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympic Games.

“The next Olympic cycle promises to be an exciting one for rowing in Australia and I look forward to working with all members of the high performance set up,” Donaldson said.

“I am encouraged to once again be working closely with our young and talented athletes and resuming coaching within the international arena”.

“The fantastic opportunity provided by the new arrangement with the AIS will allow athletes to optimize the wonderful resources at the AIS.”

In addition to Donaldson’s appointment, Lyall McCarthy has been retained as the Head National and AIS Women’s Coach.

McCarthy, who has been in charge of the women’s program since 2004, has also coached crews at four Olympic Games, including Beijing where he took charge of the women’s eight and pair.

These two appointments come three weeks after Matheson was named as the High Performance Director of the new program.

Matheson has spent the past six years as Rowing New Zealand’s high performance manager whereby the Kiwi’s have enjoyed a golden period in rowing.

AIS Director Professor Peter Fricker said Donaldson’s arrival at the AIS will continue the Institute’s tradition of pursuing excellence.

‘Noel will bring high level technical knowledge and international experience to the AIS/National rowing program’, Professor Fricker said.

‘He is enthusiastic about his role in assisting Australia’s talented rowing athletes achieve further success on the world sporting stage.

‘The Institute’s rowing program will be jointly managed and funded under an agreed management structure between the AIS and RA, and provides an exciting new platform for the future of high performance rowing in Australia.’

Rowing Australia CEO Andrew Dee welcomed the addition of Donaldson to the revamped high performance set up.

“Noel’s services have been chased by a number of other countries with lots of money and we are extremely fortunate to have been able to retain his expertise and experience in Australia”, Dee said.

“These three appointments are just the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in Australian rowing.”

For more information please call
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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Monday 8 September

Australian Paralympic boats named in Beijing

Australia’s two Paralympic rowing crews today named their boats ahead of the inaugural rowing regatta at the Paralympics Games in Beijing.

2008 marks the first year that rowing has been contested at the Paralympic Games and both Dominic Monypenny in the Adaptive Men’s Arms Only Single Scull, and Kathryn Ross and John MacLean in the Adaptive Trunk and Arms Double Scull are genuine medal contenders at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing – Canoeing Park.

Monypenny, who is a double world champion in his event after winning in 2005 and 2006, has named his boat after the late Sam LeCompte.

Monypenny’s boat, The Sam LeCompte 4, is dedicated to the Tasmanian rowing coach who was influential in the early days of Monypenny’s career in 2004. LeCompte passed away shortly after and since then Monypenny has named all of his boats after the coaching great.

John MacLean and Kathryn Ross have named their boat “Only Possibilities” as they aim to conquer the world in Beijing.

“Only Possibilities” is MacLean’s personal mission statement which he uses when delivering motivational speeches around the world, and Ross and MacLean will draw from this inspiration in their chase for gold.

Australia’s two adaptive crews will commence racing on Tuesday just after 5pm AEST in the heats of their respective events. They will both look for direct qualification into the final that will be held on Thursday afternoon.

For more information please call
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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Friday 5 September

Ginn begins road to recovery

Triple Olympic gold medallist Drew Ginn has begun his rehabilitation following major back surgery performed just two weeks after claiming gold in the men’s pair with Duncan Free at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Ginn battled through the pain during the rowing regatta at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing – Canoeing Park in Beijing, revealing after the final the seriousness of the injury had almost caused him to withdraw from racing.

Ginn underwent surgery last Friday at The Avenue Hospital in Melbourne, having a micro – discectomy to repair a ruptured disk in the L4/L5 region of his lower back.

Ginn’s rehabilitation will take place over the next six weeks, where for the majority he will be restricted to lying down in bed.

“The pain had reached the stage last week where surgery became the only option but I am really happy with the work that the surgeon has done,” Ginn said. “I have been through a similar rehabilitation process in 2000 so know my limitations now over the coming weeks.

“I guess it will be hard to sit back and watch all the other athletes celebrating their achievements, but a few weeks in the scheme of things are not that important.”

In winning the gold medal in Beijing, Ginn joined fellow rowing great James Tomkins as Australia’s most successful Olympic rower. Both men have now won three gold medals during their Olympic careers.

N.B. – Drew will be unavailable for comment over the next week as he continues his rehabilitation.

For more information please call
James Ward on 0409 458 661

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Monday 1 September

Australian rowers begin quest for inaugural gold

The rowing section of the Australian Paralympic Team today embarked on their journey to win gold at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

Dominic Monypenny, John MacLean and Kathryn Ross departed Sydney this morning on the QANTAS charter flight that carried all of Australia’s 170 strong team to the Chinese capital as they prepare to represent Australia at the inaugural rowing regatta at the Paralympic Games.

Tasmanian Monypenny will compete in the Adaptive Men’s Arms Only Single Scull, while MacLean and Ross will line up as a combination in the Adaptive Trunk and Arms Double Scull.

Monypenny won the 2005 and 2006 World Championships, before winning the silver medal last year. MacLean and Ross only competed together for the first time at the 2007 World Championships and paddled to a silver medal.

Australia has moved to the forefront of adaptive rowing and is expecting strong results from its two crews when racing begins on September 9.

Later this week a boat naming ceremony will be held at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing – Canoeing Park in Beijing.

Further details regarding this will be announced later in the week.

For more information please call
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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July 2008

Monday 28 July

World Championship success for Australian crews

The Australian Women’s Lightweight Quad Scull has regained their World Championship crown after winning the gold medal overnight in Linz, Austria.

With no Olympic disciplines included in the 2008 World Rowing Championships there were only eight events being contested. Australia sent three crews to the regatta and won a gold and bronze medal.

Miranda Bennett (NSW), Alice McNamara (VIC), Bronwen Watson (NSW) were all part of the crew that won the gold medal in 2007 and this year they were joined by Ingrid Fenger (TAS) as they crossed the line in a time of 6:36.41 to win the gold medal.

Australia came out of the blocks slowly in the first 500 metres and sat in 5th position before moving up through the field during the middle 1000 metres of the race. Their speed over the final quarter of the race proved too great for the other crews as they finished three seconds clear of Poland, with the United States a further second behind in third.

Fergus Pragnell (NSW) and Nick Baxter (NSW), coxed by Hugh Rawlinson (WA), won the bronze medal in the Men’s Coxed Pair. Pragnell and Baxter were in 5th place after 1500 metres but came through strongly over the closing stages to finish behind Canada and France and earn the final position on the podium.

The Men’s Lightweight Eight rowed the B Final earlier in the evening and finished in second position.

For more information please call
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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Monday 28 July

Triple bronze for Australian Junior crews

The Australian Junior Rowing Team has walked away from the World Championships with three bronze medals after an exciting day of racing on Saturday in Linz, Austria.

Australian crews were involved in five finals on the second last day of racing in the combined Senior and Junior World Championships and the Men’s Pair, Men’s Double Scull and Men’s Single Scull all finished third in their respective finals.

Nicholas Barnier (ACT) and Sascha Belonogoff (QLD) in the Men’s Double Scull were in impressive form all regatta and locked themselves into an enthralling battle in the final. After a slow start Barnier and Belonogoff started to reel in the crews from Germany and Lithuania in the second half of the race and only finished a narrow three seconds behind the eventual winners from Germany in a time of 6:36.64.

Taylor Wilzcynski also picked up a bronze medal in the very difficult Men’s Single Scull race. Two rowers from Bulgaria and Germany were a step above the rest of the field and fought out the gold medal, whilst Tasmanian born Wilzcynski comfortably held off all the other challengers to record a time of 7:21.85.

The Men’s Pair of Ryan Edwards (NSW) and Matthew Dignan (NSW) was the third Australian crew to win a medal after they were tipped out for the silver medal by Germany by only four tenths of a second and in a time of 6:56.99. It was an impressive row by the young New South Wales combination, who can now look forward to furthering their careers at Under 23 level.

Alexandra Hagan (WA) finished 5th in the final of the Women’s Single Scull, while the Women’s Four also recorded a fifth place finish in their final.

Australian crews' results, race reports and photos.

For more information please call
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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June 2008

Monday 23 June

Double bronze for Australia at final Olympic warm up

Two Australian rowing crews have won bronze medals at World Cup 3, the final international regatta before the Olympics, in Poznan, Poland.

The 2007 World Champion in the Women’s Lightweight Double Scull, Amber Halliday and Marguerite, raced with confidence across the weekend to finish third in their final, while the Men’s Lightweight Four crew of Todd Skipworth, Anthony Edwards, Ben Cureton and Rod Chisholm also finished third in a world class field/

Halliday and Houston, who are following a racing plan that will see them peak in just over a month’s time, qualified directly for the final from their heat on Friday and secured a middle lane in the process. In the final they settled in third place through the first quarter of the race and were unable to reel in Canada and Germany and finished in a time of 7:29.80, two seconds behind the winning Canadians.

The Men’s Lightweight Four were also very impressive in their final warm up event before Beijing and were contenders in a final that featured five crews competing in the World Championship final last year.

France led from Australia through the first stages of the race before the Australian crew, stroked by Todd Skipworth, drew level and passed the French at the halfway mark. Over the last 500 metres of the race the French re – established their margin and held on to win the race in a time of 6:08.76, while Australia was pipped by the fast finishing Italians by two hundredths of a second.

In other results, the Men’s Lightweight Double Scull crews of Sam Beltz and Tom Gibson won the B Final, while the reserve pair of Terrence Alfred and Karsten Forsterling finished 4th in the A Final of the Men’s Pair.

Australia’s 14 qualified crews will now be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection on the Olympic Team. They will continue their preparations over the next month in Australia before all converging on Penrith for a pre – Olympic training camp at the end of July.

For race reports please visit

For more information please call
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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Wednesday 18 June

Australia sets sights on Beijing after Poland blitz

Australia’s rowers have qualified all 14 boat classes for the Olympics for the first time as the three remaining crews secured their place at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Poznan, Poland.

With all 14 crews now qualified for the Olympics, the rowing section of the Australian Olympic Team will be the largest with 48 athletes.

Pippa Savage (QLD) was the first to book her place at Beijing after winning a close final in the Women’s Single Scull.

Savage came from second place with 500m to go to win the final in a time of 7:58.33 three seconds ahead of rowers from Italy and Serbia. All three crews will qualify for the Olympic Games.

Savage executed her race plan at the start and moved to a one second lead after the first 500m before slipping back to second place over the middle stages of the race. She was never in danger of missing out on a berth in Beijing however with the top three rowers well clear of the field.

Savage could not contain her excitement after the race.

“The whole morning has been exciting, especially seeing the boys win despite having a reserve in the boat”, Savage said. “I had a good start but the Serbian girl really put the pressure on and led most of the way.”

“The last 500 metres I was going for it pretty hard but didn’t feel as though I was moving anywhere. I think it is now more relief than anything.”

The Women’s Double Scull crew of Sonia Mills (ACT) and Catriona Sens (VIC) were the second Australian crew to advance to the Olympics after finishing second in the final.

Mills and Sens sat in behind the fast starting French after 500m before overtaking them and moving a boat length clear of the Ukranian crew at the halfway mark.

With both crews safely ahead of the field in the last part of the race, Ukraine came over the top of Australia to win in a time of 7:18.98, with Mills and Sens crossing the line in 7:22.03.

Sens says it was an amazing feeling.

"I don't think it has quite sunk in yet, everyone is buzzing", Sens said. “It is just great being part of such an exciting regatta and I am so happy to be in a boat with Sonia."

"We now have about 50 days to go before Beijing and it is nice to know we can go there to win something. We had everything to lose here but have come through."

Mills meanwhile said the last 500m was nerve wracking.

“The last 500 metres was so tough and I was hurting”, Mills said. “We had worked so hard during the middle 1000m and set ourselves up for a good finish.”

“Even though we didn’t win, we qualified the boat and that is what we came here to do.”

The Men’s Four stormed to victory despite the setback of losing Matt Ryan (NSW) before the race. Ryan was forced to withdraw shortly before the race through sickness and was replaced by Terrence Alfred (NSW) in the bow seat.

Alfred joined Francis Hegerty (NSW), Cameron McKenzie – McHarg (VIC) and James Marburg (VIC)to win in a time of 6:05.85. They moved a length clear after only 750m and continued to move clear of China in second place.

The Australian’s crossed the line two seconds clear of the Chinese with both crews moving forward to Beijing.

Francis Hegerty said that the late withdrawal of Matt Ryan was a tough challenge to overcome.

“It was a bit unsettling this morning when we knew Matt was out but we are lucky to have such a great replacement in T (Terrence Alfred)”, Hegerty said. “We still were aware of the job we had come to do and we put our mark on the race in the first 500m and never looked back.”

Rowing Australia CEO Andrew Dee says that is a significant achievement.

“To go to the final regatta and qualify three more crews is a tremendous result and all the crews should be congratulated”, Dee said. “They have placed in an enormous effort and it will be great to see 48 athletes nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee next week.”

Media contact
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

See results, race reports and photos — here —

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Monday 16 June

Australia reign supreme at Olympic qualifiers

All three of Australia’s crews have secured qualification for the final at the rowing Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Poznan, Poland.

Pippa Savage won her heat of the Women’s Single Scull to set the trend for Australia in the light holding wind and soft rain.

Savage led from start to finish in her heat to win in a time of 7:48.84 and move one step closer to realising her Olympic dream. She finished 10 seconds clear of the field and will now have a day’s break before the final on Wednesday. With three boats qualifying for the Olympics at this regatta Savage is now well placed to row in Beijing.

Savage said after the race that her plan unfolded well.

“My plan was to get out in front early and sit in front of the field”, Savage said. “I will be trying to relax a bit over the next two days but am really looking forward to the final.”

The Women’s Double Scull crew of Sonia Mills and Catriona Sens also won their heat to move through to the final on Wednesday.

Mills and Sens won in a time of 7:25.13 to lead home France and Poland. They need to finish in the top two in the final to progress to the Olympics.

Meanwhile the Men’s Four of Francis Hegerty, James Marburg, Cameron McKenzie – McHarg and Matt Ryan continued their strong form to comfortably win their heat and book a place in the final.

The Australian’s, fresh off their gold medal from World Cup 2, led from start to finish in the race to win in a time of 6:08.34. They finished eight seconds clear of Egypt and Croatia.

McKenzie–McHarg said the crew dealt well with the pre race nerves.

“There are always a few nerves ahead of big races like these, but we are not the only crew to feel them”, McKenzie–McHarg said. “The race re–affirmed the hard work we have been doing and hopefully we will have a new goal after the race on Wednesday.”

Rowing Australia High Performance Director Noel Donaldson says that the crews will have gained confidence from the result.

“On a day when nerves are felt by all crews, our crews now know they are capable of producing rows that will secure them a place at the Olympic Games”, Donaldson said. “These were only the heats but they have shown the pace that will serve them well in the finals on Wednesday.”

Media contact
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

See results, race reports and photos — here —

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Sunday 1 June

Olympic hopes increased for Men's Four

Australia has added two further medals on finals day at Rowing World Cup 2 in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Men’s Four of Francis Hegerty, Cameron McKenzie – McHarg, James Marburg and Matt Ryan led from start to finish to win gold, giving themselves a valuable boost of confidence ahead of the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Poland in two weeks time.

The crew has aimed to reach their initial peak at that regatta, where they will need to finish first or second if they want to compete in Beijing.

They won the race in a time of 5:52.04 to lead home the Netherlands by half a boat length, while the USA won the bronze medal.
The Australian Women’s Eight won the silver medal behind reigning world champions, the USA. After a slow start the crew came back strongly over the last 500m to finish a canvas behind USA in a time of 6:07.91.

The Men’s Eight were unable to match their performance from World Cup 1 as they finished fourth in the final behind the Olympic favourites, Canada.

The Women’s Quad Scull crew of Amber Bradley, Kerry Hore, Zoe Uphill and Amy Ives came 6th in the A Final.

Earlier in the day the Men’s Pair of Duncan Free and Drew won a bronze medal, while David Crawshay and Scott Brennan also won bronze in the Men’s Double Scull.

For full race results please visit

Media contact
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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Sunday 1 June

Double bronze for Australia in Lucerne

Two Australian crews have won bronze medals in the first session of finals racing at the rowing World Cup 2 in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The world champion Men's Pair of Duncan Free and Drew Ginn finished third behind Canada and New Zealand in their first race of the international season. After a slow start Ginn and Free were unable to make up the ground on the Canadian pair, while New Zealand finished strongly to claim the silver medal.

David Crawshay and Scott Brennan won their second consecutive bronze medal at the world cup regattas after finishing with great pace. Crawshay and Brennan will now return to Australia to conclude their preparations for the Olympic Games.

Reigning world champions in the Women's Lightweight Double Scull, Amber Halliday and Marguerite Houston, finished fourth in their final behind China.

The Women's Pair of Sarah Cook and Kim Crow finished fourth in their final, while Pippa Savage finished 6th in the final of the Women's Single Scull.

The Men's Eight and Women's Eight will enter their finals later this evening as strong contenders for medals, while the Men's Four and Women's Quad Scull will also race in finals.

For full race results please visit

Media contact
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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May 2008

Friday 9 May to Sunday 11 May

World Cup 1: Munich, Germany

All releases can be found — here —

Media contact
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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Wednesday 7 May

Australian rowers set course for Beijing Olympics

Six of Australia’s eleven qualified Olympic rowing crews will race in their first international event of the year as World Cup 1 commences on Thursday 8 May in Munich, Germany.

Over the next two months, three World Cup regattas will be staged along with the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, where Australia will have the chance to qualify their three remaining crews for the Olympic Games.

Australia has undergone a mixed build up to the first World Cup event with a couple of minor injury concerns preventing some crews from training to their full capability.

Additionally, David Crawshay (VIC), Scott Brennan (TAS), Amber Bradley (WA) and Jeremy Stevenson (WA) arrived in Munich 24 hours later than the rest of the squad after being stranded at Perth Airport last weekend during the lockdown.

The Australian Women’s Eight are chasing their first medal at an Olympic Games this year, after failing to medal at their previous three attempts.

Sally Kehoe (QLD), who is rowing in the Eight for the second consecutive year, says the crew is eager to race.

“We all very excited about starting the international racing season”, Kehoe said. “Although it doesn't seem that long ago that we were last here in Munich for the World Championships, there have been many changes to the squad and this first world cup will be a great opportunity to see where we stand in the world.”

Large contingents of athletes from across the globe have entered in World Cup 1, with 54 countries being represented in Munich.

Zoe Uphill, who is part of the Women’s Quad Scull crew, says the competition will be difficult across all boat classes.

“It will be the first international racing that many crews have done in 2008 and will be a good opportunity for teams to gauge where they are at in terms of boat speed”, Uphill said. “The top 4 crews from the 2007 World Championships have been entered in our event but we are looking forward to the challenge of seeing how we are placed.”

Racing will commence on Thursday evening at 8.30pm AEST with the heats of the Women’s Pair. Other Australian crews racing in World Cup 1 are the Men’s Double Scull, Men’s Eight, Women’s Eight, Men’s Quad Scull and Women’s Quad Scull.

For more information please call
David Polglase on 0401 453 041

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