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NZ rowing double-up gets first test at Cup

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/05/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

New Zealand's most risky rowing selection gets its first trial run at the World Cup in Switzerland.

Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent are contesting the pair and eights at the three-day regatta in Lucerne this week, matching their events at the Olympics in August.

Dave Thompson, who coaches both crews, admits the double-up at Rio puts them in treacherous waters but the reward is great as both boats are genuine medal hopefuls.

"It's extremely high-risk on the group having the girls in both boats," he told NZ Newswire.

"In an Olympic Games it's not done very often and if racing doesn't work out the way we want, we end up with two girls racing an hour apart."

Even though the Olympic regatta is spread over eight days, Scown and Behrent face a couple of pinch points.

If forced to race a pairs repechage, it will come 80 minutes before the first eights heat on August 8.

And if the eights don't go straight to the final, their repechage falls 70 minutes after the pairs semi-finals two days later.

"It's a lot of energy expenditure in a very short space of time," Thompson said of the worst-case scenarios.

New Zealand won silver in the pair at last year's world championships in France, although that was through Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, who were also part of the second-placed eights crew.

However, the selectors deemed Scown and Behrent represented the superior pair combination in Rio.

All going to plan, the duo will be the first Kiwi rowers to win two Olympic medals at the same Games.

This week provides the first international regatta of the year for the nine Rio-qualified Kiwi crews.

Single sculler Emma Twigg, who qualified through the sudden death regatta in Lucerne this week, was never going to race. She hasn't yet had her Rio selection ratified.

Thompson hopes his young eights will show progress since finishing second to the United States in France nine months ago.

"We don't play cat and mouse. We're out to make a statement every time we go out," Thompson said.

"There's big gains to be made because they're a young crew. Whether we get them all before Rio remains to be seen."

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