By Grant Dodds
It was not a straightforward week for McCann who faced many challenges to prepare for the racing this weekend. At the start of the week the team’s flight was cancelled after boarding due to a technical issue which delayed their arrival in Switzerland.
Thankfully the team’s travel partners TAG were able to rebook flights to get the RMB National Squad to Lucerne as soon as possible. Coaches Tiago Loureiro and Andrew Grant arrived and immediately got to work setting up the team’s Filippi rowing boats and rigged well past 10pm to get the equipment ready for the team to train and prepare for the racing.
Kirsten, now teaching part time at Jeppe High School in Johannesburg, progressed well through all rounds of racing.
On Friday she placed second in her heat to progress directly to Saturday’s A/B Semi-final. She raced even better on Saturday morning in a very tough semi-final against both Germany and Great Britain. She placed third in the semi-final and progressed to the A Final on Saturday afternoon.
As lightweight rowers, all the rowers are required to maintain a body weight of 59 kg in this category.
“Considering how rough this week has been, this is a great race. Obviously there is more work to do, but I am happy with the result. Now we will be back home and train for the World Championships,” said McCann.
Going into the afternoon’s A-Final, McCann was only ranked 6th, but she was able to step on and put herself in a very good position off the start. By the 500-metre mark she had solidified third position against Great Britain and Mexico.
Through the middle of the race it was a three-way fight for the bronze medal position between South Africa, Germany and Italy. In the final sprint for the line Italy and South Africa left Germany behind them. On the line it was Great Britain in first place in a new world record time, second place was Mexico and in third place it was McCann ahead of Italy by just 0,32 seconds after 2000 metres of racing.
This is a great result for McCann, who returned to the RMB National Squad this year after the bitter disappointment of not qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, and the RMB National Squad under new Head Coach Tiago Loureiro. McCann and her coach Andrew Grant have reunited in their partnership which was so successful leading into the Rio Olympiad in 2016.
“This is massive for our team. We are a small, young team building towards the Paris 2024 Olympics. This bronze medal gives us all confidence and drives us onwards towards the World Championships in September this year,” says Tiago Loureiro, RMB National Squad Head Coach