7 Sep 2015

Another world title for New Zealand rowers

8:39 am on 7 September 2015

New Zealand teams have picked up a gold, two silvers and a bronze on the final day at the World Rowing Championships in France.

The gold went to the women's double of Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane, silvers went to the women's eight and men's single sculler Mahe Drysdale, while the men's double Robbie Manson and Chris Harris picked up a bronze.

Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane.
World Rowing Cup II 2015 Varese, Italy.

Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane. World Rowing Cup II 2015 Varese, Italy. Photo: Photosport

It was a historic day for New Zealand's big boats, with both the men's and women's eight qualifying for the Olympic Games.

It means New Zealand has qualified nine crews for the Olympics, with another qualifying opportunity in May next year.

Stevenson and Macfarlane looked strong and smooth as they came flying through the field in the second half of the race to take the lead and win gold. Their gold medal tops off a perfect season for the duo after they won gold at the second and third World Cup regattas.

Eve Macfarlane said that was "everything we could have dreamed of".

"We were both saying that we were visualising yesterday exactly how we wanted it to pan out and I think it was just as we imagined."

The New Zealand women's eight rowed a magnificent race to win silver behind powerhouse and reigning World Champions United States. The women's eight have well and truly claimed their Olympic qualification spot and have made history - becoming the first New Zealand eight to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Coxwain Francie Lawson said she was elated to win silver. "It's been a phenomenal experience, we created history in Lucerne and our big goal was Olympic qualification but to stand on the podium is an amazing experience. You couldn't ask for a better crew, there's just so much trust and confidence in each other."

Men's single sculler Mahé Drysdale moved through the field and went toe-for-toe with rival and reigning world champion Ondrej Synek. The two scullers were locked in a battle until the final stroke when Synek crossed the line inches ahead of Drysdale, leaving him with silver.

Robbie Manson and Chris Harris remained calm under pressure in the men's double as they hung onto the race leaders throughout. The kiwi double had an impressive last 500 metres to push through Germany and win bronze.

The kiwi men's eight had a tough task up against some of the heavyweights of world rowing. The young crew punched well above their weight and were right amongst the frontrunners, but were unlucky to finish fourth in a photo finish. Their spot is also now secured for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and they are the first kiwi men's eight to qualify since 1984.

The men's lightweight four of Curtis Rapley, Alistair Bond, James Lassche and James Hunter were in the hunt behind race leaders Switzerland, but were unable to keep up with the fast pace in the final stages and finished fourth, just missing out on a medal.

Rowing New Zealand has qualified nine boats - and a total of 33 athletes - so far for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and will look to qualify more at the qualification regatta next May.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games the team was made up of eleven crews and 26 athletes.

Rowing New Zealand high performance director Allan Cotter said the performances of the athletes was particularly good in a pre-Olympic year, with the standard of racing at a high level.

"The level will step up again for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but we're thrilled to have medaled in seven Olympic events at this champs, topping the medal table in Olympic events with three golds."

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