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D-Day for rowers

By Mark Etheridge

Our Olympic hopeful rowing pairs pulled out all the stops on Monday to progress through to the crucial A-Final in Lucerne, Switzerland.

South Africa already has a men’s fours and women’s pair combination safely qualified for the Olympic Games in London later this year and this final Olympic Qualifying event is the final qualification event for the few remaining slots.

In action for South Africa were Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling in Monday’s repechage races.

And it was all about pressure at the Rotsee regatta course as the weather didn’t make things any easier with the opening races having pretty smooth slight-tail conditions and then turning around to a head-wind. To up the tension even more, racing had to be suspended after a storm forecast.

When the the all-clear was given for racing to resume, the head-wind was still around but tapered off towards the end of the day.

Keeling was in with Brittain after having spent last season in the four’s qualification bid while Brittain had raced with Olympic medallist Ramon di Clemente. The latter hung up his oars and retired last year.

Brittain and Keeling showed few signs of nerves as they rowed a great-paced race to win their five-boat repechage. They beat China, Romania, Croatia and Ukraine into the lesser positions.

In the first repechage, Spain had come in ahead of Argentina, Belarussia, Norway and the Czech Republic.

Bottom line is that it’s all down to today’s A final. To ensure their spot on Team SA for the Olympics they need to place in the top two spots ÔÇô failure to do so and their Olympic chances are blown.

The A final will be raced at 5.10pm on Tuesday and our men will come up against China, Spain, Poland, France and Argentina.


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