SA's men's four misses podium at World Cup regatta by five-hundredths of a second
South Africa's second boat in their stable — a new-look men’s four — on Sunday missed the podium at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne by five-hundredths of a second.
On Saturday trailblazer Kirsty McCann scored another first for South African women’s rowing as she scooped gold in 2000m course in 7:45.75‚ to lift the lightweight single sculls crown by nearly three seconds over Holland’s Marieke Keijser‚ the under-23 world champion.
SA's new men's four featured 2016 Olympic pairs silver medallist Lawrence Brittain and John Smith‚ the last active member of the champion lightweight four crew from London 2012.
For David Hunt and Jake Green‚ the two survivors of SA's boat from Rio‚ it was deja vu‚ having ended fourth at the Olympics too. Smith also got a taste of fourth in the men’s lightweight double sculls at the 2016 Games.
But it was no disgrace finishing behind Olympic champions Britain‚ the winners in 5min 52.92sec‚ and Italy‚ the reigning world and European champions who clocked 5:54.42.
And they so nearly chased down Netherlands‚ the early leaders at 500m‚ who ended third in 5:54.72.
SA were in fifth place for much of the race before launching a trademark late attack on the field and going the fastest over final 500m‚ although it just wasn’t enough for a medal.
McCann sailed over the 2000m course in 7:45.75 on Saturday to lift the lightweight single sculls crown by nearly three seconds over Holland’s Marieke Keijser‚ the under-23 world champion.
McCann had purposely held back in the semifinals‚ giving Keijser the win in that round‚ and the Dutch competitor was marginally in front at the halfway mark in the final.
That’s when McCann opened the throttle‚ powering into the lead by 1.4sec over the third 500 metres and then doubling that cushion over the final quarter.
Patricia Merz of Switzerland‚ the bronze medallist at the recent European championships‚ was third — nearly five seconds behind McCann. European champion Emma Fredh of Sweden was fifth.
Double Olympian McCann is the first SA female to triumph in Lucerne‚ the biggest of the three World Cup regattas on the annual calendar.
For McCann and the men’s four‚ the main goal this year is the senior world championships in Sarasota-Bradenton‚ Florida‚ US‚ from September 24 to October 1.