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Double medal success for SA rowers in Italy
- Updated: April 28, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s rowers struck gold in the men’s lightweight fours at the last Olympics … is it premature to dream of more metalware from their countrymen and women at this year’s Paralympics?
Certainly not, if recent form is anything to go by. Competing in an international regatta in Gavirate, Italy at the weekend, South African combinations won both gold and silver against top-notch competition, and on two occasions.
The silvers came courtesy of the MixLTA4+ combination where Willie Morgan coxed Shannon Murray, Lucy Perold, Dieter Rosslee and Dylan Trollope to second spot in both the weekend’s finals.
But it got even better for Murray and Roslee as they also teamed up for two golds in the LTA Double Skulls. The one downside is that the latter event is not a Paralympic event, although there’s talk it may be included in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.
An excited Murray told Road to Rio 2016 of her regattas after touching down back in South Africa.
‘For me our last final in the four where we came second to Australia was the most incredible race of my life until now. It was full of adrenalin and it was just so exciting.
‘We were initially coming fifth but we pulled through the other teams, including Ukraine who had beat us in the previous final earlier that day, to catch Australia and come second by less than a second.
‘I loved every race we did with each one being unique and memorable. The double that Dieter and I [picture above] raced in was enjoyable too. We don’t train often together in the double as it isn’t our priority, but we’re both very happy to have the opportunity to race in the boat.
‘So Dieter and I did six races over the two days, and four finals on the second day. The last doubles race for me was quite taxing on the body, my entire body was finished and my muscles were in quite a bit of pain, but we managed to keep ahead of France and take the gold.
‘The weekend’s racing was very enjoyable. It taught me some new things in terms of international racing and it has made me that much more amped for the process to Rio.’
Another happy person was coach Marco Galeone who was Team SA’s rowing coach at the 2012 Paralympics in London.
‘Gavirate was a great indication that we are working well on our road to Rio. Sure, some countries, like Great Britain were missing in the MixLTA4+, but we had good and clear indication that our boat has gained some speed.
‘We have to be on our toes now and continue to work hard in just under 130 days left to Rio.
We’ll continue training as usual to find some more speed, especially in the first part of the race. The endurance and mileage work have certainly paid off
‘Unfortunately we couldn’t get a great indication of Sandra Khumalo’s form [2012 Paralympian rower], but I must emphasise that even with the breaking of her seat early on, she still managed to race and to complete the race in the final.
‘Now it is time to get back to work again. Gavirate was good but it is already in the past.’
There’s no time for the crew to sit back and relax though, SA championships are on Roodeplaat Dam next weekend and there’s also a Polish regatta in the pipeline.
Busy times but with the Paralympics four months away, it’s all systems go!