Once again South Africa’s national rowing squad has made us incredibly proud, having performed well at the Henley Regatta in the UK and the World Rowing Cup in Switzerland, bringing back a bit of gold in the process.
In late June the team – Kirsten McCann (pictured above) in the ladies’ lightweight sculls division, along with heavyweight men’s foursome David Hunt, Lawrence Brittain, John Smith and Jake Milton Green – headed for London to race in the Henley Royal Regatta. Every year Henley hosts more than 200 races over five days, attracting Olympians, crews and spectators from around the globe to enjoy world-class racing. This year’s regatta took place from 28 June to 2 July.
After a few days settling in and rigging the boats, the South African men’s team was faced with flu, causing them the withdraw. Kirsten, by contrast, was on top form on race day and placed a very respectable second to Hannah Osborne from New Zealand.
There was no time to rest or enjoy the UK heat wave as the team packed up and headed to Switzerland for the World Rowing Cup – Lucerne Regatta.
Lucerne Regatta takes place on Lake Rotsee, where the first ever Rowing World Championship took place. Lucerne Regatta has over a hundred years of history, but also has lots of history for Lawrence, who came fourth last year by point-5 of a second.
Lawrence says missing the podium by such a small margin was a massive disappointment, but it was what drove him and his partner at the time, Shaun Keeling, to take silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The Lucerne Regatta was full of excitement, with Kirsten making it into the finals and the men’s four overcoming the flu and making their finals as well.
Kirsten walked away with a gold medal in the ladies’ lightweight scull, which was amazing! The men’s heavyweight four had a nail biting race, crossing the line in fourth place and missing the podium by split seconds – reminiscent of Lawrence’s result in 2016!
Roger Barrow, national team coach, says the rowers are heading in the right direction but have lots of work ahead of them before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“The Olympics are a little more than two years away, which is less time than you think,” he says. “There is still a lot to be done in that time.”
“We are incredibly proud of our national team,” says Carolynne Waterhouse of RMB, sponsor of the national rowing squad. “The rowers have done a tremendous job of putting and keeping South Africa on the map on the international sports scene. It is an honour for RMB to be ‘Thinking.Pulling.Together‘ with the national squad and we look forward to supporting our U23 and junior teams on their upcoming tours.”