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Four Kiwi crews fail to qualify for Rio

NZN 24/05/2016

New Zealand has fallen well short of expectations at the final qualifying Olympic rowing qualifying regatta in Lucerne, with four of five boats missing their Rio target.

In a hugely disappointing outcome, only single sculler Emma Twigg did enough to join the nine Kiwi crews who had already qualified at last year's world championships.

A 10-boat assault at Rio is well short of Rowing NZ's target of fielding a crew in all 14 classes.

Needing a top-four finish, former world champion Twigg eased to a comfortable win in the women's single sculls final.

She was third through the first 500m and powered to the front by the halfway mark to be more than two boat lengths clear of Ireland's Sanita Puspure.

The 29-year-old, who took last year off rowing to study in Europe, will start among the favourites for gold at Rio in August when she contests her third Games.

However, there was nothing but frustration for the multi-rower crews who all qualified for A-finals but failed to meet the Olympic requirement of a top-two finish.

The three four-crew boats all placed third while lightweight men's double scullers Adam Ling and Toby Cunliffe-Steel failed to fire and finished last.

The most agonising result went to the least-favoured of the New Zealand entries - the men's four of Anthony Allen, Patrick McInnes, Axel Dickinson and Drikus Conradie.

They trailed the six-boat field early before surging over the second half, only to finish within a length of second-placed France, who advanced along with winners South Africa.

Women's quad Brooke Donoghue, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Sarah Gray couldn't haul in Ukraine and China while John Storey, George Bridgewater, Nathan Flannery and Jade Uru were also outclassed by Russia and Canada.

The result was disappointing for former world champion Bridgewater, who came out of retirement last year to chase his third Olympic selection.

Twigg's inclusion, once ratified by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, will lift the Kiwi rowing contingent at Rio to a record 32 athletes.

At the 2012 London Games there were 26 athletes in 11 classes.

The original nine qualified crews will all contest the World Cup regatta in Lucerne starting on Friday.

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