Proud moment for oar-some trio

PETER JONES
Last updated 07:53 30/07/2013

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The Marlborough rowing fraternity yesterday celebrated the success of three of their own at the under-23 world championships in Austria.

Tom Murray was bowman in the New Zealand eight which won gold, Karl Manson stroked the silver medal-winning Kiwi quad while Sophie MacKenzie picked up bronze in the lightweight double.

Bill Campbell, head coach at Marlborough Boys' College and Blenheim Rowing Club, was delighted with all three rowers' success, particularly the eight's winning effort.

Campbell previously coached five of the New Zealand eight, Finn Howard, Shaun Kirkham and Joe Wright at the 2010 junior world champs, then Brook Robertson and Murray at Marlborough Boys' College where they were part of the historic Springbok Shield-winning crew.

Robertson now rows out of the Nelson RC but he and Wright are part of the Central RPC.

"It was a great feeling to see them go on to something like [a world title]," Campbell said.

"I didn't think it would happen like this, so soon, especially in an eight . . . and to cut out a time like that. Magnificent

"It has been amazing the way the eight has come together," he said. "Only one Olympic eight winner has gone faster. That was in Beijing. The famous New Zealand crew from Munich in 1972 were 40 seconds slower." The under-23 eight covered the 2000m course in 5min 28.63sec.

Having helped Murray, who also won a junior world title last year, get started in the sport is especially satisfying for Campbell.

"I found Tom during testing at college. He showed out right from the start. You can tell when they've got it," he said. "To win an under-23 title at just 19 years of age . . . it's exceptional.

"Tom is one of the smallest in the boat, but so good technically. He's a real boat mover. As a bowman he has to be the smoothest rower in the crew, he just sets the bow up so nicely. He's got it all there."

Campbell said the under-23 eight were on track to play a part at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"Given the times they are producing at the age they are . . . three years down the track they'll only get better. They are a big possibility for Rio."

Campbell also has high hopes for Manson, who he coached at MBC. "Karl had glandular fever a while back but is really coming on to it now. He's always had what it needs to make it. I'm sure he can go on to do what his older brother Robbie [a highly successful member of the New Zealand senior men's double in 2013] is doing."

The fact so many rowers from the MBC programme are beginning to make it to the top is a source of pride for Campbell.

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This season Murray, Robertson, Corey McCaffrey, Ryan Wilson and the Manson brothers have all represented their country.

"[The New Zealand reps] come back and mix, bring the young ones up to play with modern techniques. It's all good for college and Blenheim rowing."

Former national women's coach Campbell also had high praise for MacKenzie, who rows out of the Wairau club. "She struggled early in her career, missed the national juniors but seems to be going better every year. She's certainly got a big future in the lightweights."

Wairau RC and MGC coach Dave Williamson, who coached MacKenzie early in her career, described her efforts as "brilliant". "It was a brand new combination, I'm really happy for her.

"It's another step towards her goal of being an Olympian in 2016."

The Marlborough medal-winning rowers have proved elusive following their successes but MacKenzie's mother, Alison, had received a quick message saying, "Lisa and I are really happy with our bronze medal. It was one really hard race. So proud."

Manson's mum, Kaye Surgenor, also received a brief message from her son saying they got very close but couldn't get in front of the Swiss who led all the way.

"He's now feeling shattered and looking forward to a rest," Surgenor said.

"I'm so happy for Karl - this is his first international rowing medal and the quad is a pretty tough event to win one in."

Rowing NZ high performance manager Alan Cotter was optimistic about the eight's prospects of featuring in Rio. "We have that aim of having 14 boats in Rio, and this is a good start for them.

"They're a very close-knit team and the young guys certainly showed what they were capable of."

But Cotter said they wouldn't be fast-tracked into the senior spotlight, despite suggestions they could be a late addition to the team to contest next month's world champs in South Korea.

"We just want them to enjoy the success they've had and then over the summer period develop further and take another step towards Rio," Cotter said.

The next international regatta on the calendar is the world junior championships in Trakai, Lithuania, from August 7-11. Picton sculler Mitchell Mackenzie-Mol will wear the black singlet there.

- The Marlborough Express

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