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Twigg makes winning return to rowing

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/05/2016

The men's four were the exception as New Zealand crews made a strong start to the final Olympic rowing qualifying regatta in Lucerne.

Single sculler Emma Twigg led the way with an impressive return to international competition, topping the heat times in her first major regatta since taking last year off to study.

The 2014 world champion needs a top-four finish to book an Olympic berth while the four other Kiwi crews need to finish in the top two.

Twigg eased into the semi-finals but the men's and women's quadruple sculls - who both won their heats - advanced straight to their final because of smaller fields.

Women's quad Sarah Gray, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Brooke Donoghue were last in their three-boat heat early on but powered home to head off Great Britain by more than a length.

Their male counterparts - Nathan Flannery, Jade Uru, George Bridgewater and John Storey - were too quick for the United States in a sprint finish.

Lightweight men's double scullers Adam Ling and Toby Cunliffe-Steel expended little energy in their heat, placing third behind Belgium and Portugal to book a semi-final spot.

The crew with the stiffest task are the men's four of Anthony Allen, Patrick McInnes, Axel Dickinson and Drikus Conradie, who must overcome a large and competitive field.

They were third in their heat behind France and Spain and must contest a repechage on Tuesday.

Rowing New Zealand's goal is to field a crew in all 14 Olympic classes in Rio, with nine having automatically qualified at last year's world championships.

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