The New Zealand Men’s Coxless Four have continued their charge through the top tier of world rowing after winning a bronze medal on the penultimate day of the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
The new combination of Matt Macdonald, Tom Murray, Logan Ullrich and Ollie Maclean only raced for the first time eight weeks ago at the World Cup regatta in Switzerland.
It was Ullrich and Maclean’s debut at a senior world event after competing for their respective universities in the United States.
The four turned heads with a bronze medal at that Lucerne regatta and have made good on that promise with another podium in an even tougher test in Serbia.
New Zealand and the United States led through the first 500m with the season’s top boat from Great Britain in third.
The Brits grabbed the lead at the 600m and never looked back.
Great Britain crossed in 6min 04.35sec, the USA in 6:06.37 and New Zealand in 6:08.44.
New Zealand crew had already qualified the boat for Paris in their semifinal. That was a huge achievement in itself.
Now Ullrich and Maclean have their first World Championship medals and the opportunity to keep building the boat with Tokyo Olympics gold medallists Macdonald and Murray for Paris.
Ben Taylor from the Men's Pair crew congratulating Ollie Maclean after the Men's Coxless Four A Final. photo: Art of Rowing.
Olympic silver medallist Jackie Gowler knew the New Zealand Women’s Coxless Four was not far off finding something special after their heat on Monday.
They lined up in the B Final knowing only victory would be good enough to get the boat to Paris.
They executed perfectly off the start to seize the lead with 200m gone and then took off.
At 500m, Gowler, with Phoebe Spoors stroking and Ella Cossill and Davina Waddy in the bow, had cleared out to a 2s lead which they extended to 5s at the 1000m. Their confidence seemed to grow and by the 1500m they still led by over 4s.
They didn’t blink, crossing to win in 6:40.62.
The Women's coxless Four celebrating after their win in the B Final which saw them qualify the boat for the Paris Olympics. Photo: Art of Rowing.
t’s been a big last couple of days for Wellington athlete Jackie Kiddle.
She and Shannon Cox qualified the boat for the Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls for the Olympics by finishing second in their semifinal on Thursday.
It was a fitting reward for Kiddle, who had also qualified the boat for the Tokyo Games by winning the event in 2019 but couldn’t form a crew for Tokyo.
Kiddle’s perseverance paid off again in last night’s A Final as she and world champs newcomer Cox rowed to fifth in the A Final, which was won by defending champions Great Britain.
There was also plenty to celebrate for the Men’s Pair of Ben Taylor and Phil Wilson.
Wilson rowed in the six seat of the New Zealand Eight that won gold in Tokyo and he’s now helped qualify the pair for Paris.
He and Taylor have only been together in the boat for six weeks and began aggressively in the B Final, where five Games spots were on offer.
Their intention was clear from the outset as they hung in with early leaders Australia. Just 0.88s separated the Anzacs at both the 500m and 1000m marks. The gap was just 0.55s at the 1500m, although the crew from Spain had also entered the frame.
Spain had the momentum to cross first in 6:35.76, Australia was second in 6:36.15 with New Zealand third in 6:37.28.
Chris Stockley and Matt Dunham were also looking for Paris qualification from the B Final, in the Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls.
They were in a race of desperation though, with only one spot available.
You either go out fast and hope to hang on or start more conservatively and aim to come through a fading field at the end.
The crew from Mexico went out fast, rating 40 strokes per minute throughout.
Stockley and Dunham came home with a roar but couldn’t quite close the deficit, finishing third just over 2s behind the winning Mexican boat.
The Women’s Pair of Alana Sherman and Kate Haines finished their first regatta together with a flourish. Haines only swapped into the boat from the Double Sculls after the third World Cup in July.
They excelled in dead flat conditions to lead all the way in the C Final finishing in 7:07.18. After just six weeks in the boat, they finish the season ranked 13 in the world.
Four New Zealand crews are in action on the final day of competition tonight (NZT).
Robbie Manson and Ben Mason will try to qualify the boat for Paris in the B Final of the Men’s Double Sculls and then medals go on the line in the A Finals for Lucy Spoors and Brooke Francis in the Women’s Double Sculls, Thomas Mackintosh in the Men’s Single Sculls and Olympic champion Emma Twigg in the Women’s Single Sculls.
Andy Hay is a freelance producer, writer and rowing coach. He was cox of the world champion New Zealand eight of 1982 and '83. He is NZ Olympian #446.