Mackenzie-Mol in the medals
Marlborough has another world championship rowing medalist.
Picton rower Mitchell Mackenzie-Mol picked up a silver medal last night (NZ time) as stroke of the New Zealand quadruple sculls combination that finished second on the final day of the world junior champs in Trakai, Lithuania.
The Kiwi crew were in the next lane to the winners, Germany, and although they remained within striking distance throughout they were unable to bridge the gap on their powerful European rivals, finishing around one boat length back at the line.
The Germans led just .15 of a second after the first 500 metres but had increased that advantage to nearly two seconds by the 1500m mark. They crossed the finish line 2.11 seconds ahead. Third was the Chinese crew, over two seconds behind the Kiwis.
Mitchell's father, Dick Mol, watched the race on computer with his family at their Picton home and was ecstatic with the result. "Silver's bloody awesome," he said. "Mitchell's always said, 'you put everything on the line, you are totally exhausted at the finish, you get out of the boat knowing that you've done your best and what you get is what you deserve'."
Dick, who talked to his son just hours before the final, said the crew were pumped and felt everything was coming together. "It was just a matter of following their race plan," he added. The NZ quad were on a winning roll going into the final. They cruised through their heat, earning direct entry to Saturday's semifinal, which they also won comfortably, leading all the way to qualify directly for the final. Their winning semifinal time was slightly quicker than the Germans, who won the other semi, but the roles were reversed on finals day.
Dick acknowledged the strength of the victorious German crew but pointed out that the Kiwi quad had dipped under the six minute mark, the first time Mitchell had broken that barrier.
"That was an awesome effort," said Dick, who expected to talk to Mitchell around 2.30am last night following the medal ceremony and compulsory 45 minute walk to clear the lactic acid. "After their eleven and a half week training regime, it was a superb result - especially in such a highly competitive class as the quad."
This is just Mitchell's second year in the sport. After a promising motocross career, curtailed by injury, he took up rowing and has represented his country each year since. This will be his last year in the junior ranks but a bright future looks assured at higher levels.
The 18-year old was part of the New Zealand quad that competed at the junior worlds in Bulgaria last year, finishing sixth, and said before leaving Marlborough that his failure to get among the medals in 2012 was motivation heading into this year's regatta.
"Our main goal is gold," he told The Express last month. "But with the standard of competition in this race - it's one of the toughest events to win, we would be happy to make the top three." And they did.
It has been a season of high achievement for the young sculler. In February he picked up gold, silver and bronze medals at the national champs at Twizel then, rowing for Queen Charlotte College, he claimed the premier under-18 single sculls gold at the Maadi Cup on Lake Karapiro in March. It was the Picton ace's second consecutive single sculls gold at Maadi Cup level, having taken out the under 17 title in 2012.
The men's quad will be the only Kiwi crew to bring back a medal from Lithuania, the opposite of last year when
Mitchell's crew were the only NZ combination not to medal.
The best the New Zealand team could manage on Saturday, the penultimate day of the regatta, was a fourth place for the men's coxed four and a fifth placing for both the women's coxless four, coached by Marlborough's Mark Stallard, and the women's quadruple scull.
The women's four kicked off finals proceedings for New Zealand and got out quickly from the starting blocks at 43 strokes per minute but couldn't match the pace of the race leaders and finished fifth. The crew from USA took gold, Italy bringing home the silver and Germany bronze, with Poland edging New Zealand for fourth.
The men's coxed four were unable to defend their 2012 world title after making a slow start in their final. They made a move at the half way point but it wasn't enough to pull the leading crews in. The New Zealand four finished fourth. Italy won the gold, Germany picked up silver and Belarus surged for the line ahead of New Zealand for bronze.
The women's quadruple scull was up against some very strong competition in their final, the New Zealand crew finished in fifth just over four seconds off the gold medal winning crew from Italy, second went to the USA and Germany were third.
The NZ men's quadruple scull comprised Mackenzie-Mol (Picton), Benjamin Crosbie ( St Andrews College), Marty Davenport (Westlake Boys High School) and Jack O'Leary (Kavanagh College). The coach was Dan Kelly. Mitchell is expected back in Blenheim on Wednesday afternoon.
- The Marlborough Express
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