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Kiwi rowers dominate in Lucerne

NZN 29/05/2016

New Zealand has flexed its collective muscle to win three golds in an eight-medal haul at the Rowing World Cup regatta in Lucerne.

In a highly promising first international hitout of 2016, all but two of New Zealand's nine Olympic qualified crews climbed the podium, including golds to single sculler Mahe Drysdale, the men's pair and lightweight men's four.

Olympic champion Drysdale overcame a deficit of more than a length at the midway point of his final to power past his arch rival Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic.

Synek, who has won the last three world championship titles, was two lengths behind 37-year-old Drysdale, with Cuba's Angel Fournier Rodriguez third.

"It was a really tough race and I'm really glad Ondrej threw in the towel in the end because I didn't have much left," Drysdale said.

"But Ondrej is still the one to beat in Rio."

Men's pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray extended their winning run of international race wins to 63 as they dominated the middle stages of their final to see off crews from the Netherlands, Great Britain and South Africa.

James Hunter, Alistair Bond, Matthew Dunham and James Lassche won the lightweight men's four to ensure New Zealand topped the nations medal table.

Dunham replaced an injured Peter Taylor in a crew which overcame a slow start to finish a length clear of the world champion Swiss crew, with Denmark third.

Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent won silver in the women's pair behind the United States, with their cause helped by the late withdrawal of British favourites Heather Stanning and Helen Glover for medical reasons.

Scown and Behrent were then part of a women's eight crew who snared bronze less than two lengths behind Rio gold medal favourites the United States, who pipped Great Britain.

New Zealand's other silver when to Robbie Manson and Chris Harris, who led their double sculls final at the midway point but were overhauled by Croatian brothers Martin and Valent Sinkovic.

Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie received a wake-up call in the women's lightweight double sculls. The two-time world champions could only manage bronze behind winners Canada and South Africa.

The other Kiwi bronze was secured on Saturday, by Zoe McBride in the non-Olympic women's lightweight single sculls.

Those to miss out on medals were the men's eight, who were fifth in a tight final, and sixth-place women's double scullers Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane, who were world champions last year.

The only Rio-bound New Zealander not competing this week was single sculler Emma Twigg, who qualified at the sudden death regatta last week.

She will join her teammates at the third and final World Cup in Poznan, Poland starting on June 17.

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