Rio Olympics 2016: Men's pair into final; Drysdale, Twigg give NZ rowers winning starts video

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray can make it 69 consecutive race wins in the men's pair final on Thursday (Friday NZ Time).
MATTHIAS HANGST/GETTY IMAGES

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray can make it 69 consecutive race wins in the men's pair final on Thursday (Friday NZ Time).

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray rumbled closer to retaining Olympic gold but uncertainty has washed through the rest of New Zealand's rowing team in Rio.

Defending champions Bond and Murray become the first Kiwi crew to book a final berth, and were followed later on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time) by a hurried lightweight men's four.

However, the powerful New Zealand team received a wake-up call when both double sculls crews bowed out in the semifinals, including world champions Eve MacFarlane and Zoe Stevenson.

It means three of New Zealand's 11 crews have been eliminated from medal contention, with the others sitting in various stages of qualification.

READ MORE:
Stuff's Rio Olympics guide to NZers in action
Rio Olympics: Check out the medal table
Rio Olympics: Meet the New Zealand team
Stuff's Rio Olympics newsletter: Sign up here

 

Men’s pair
00:00:00
2012: NZL
2004: AUS
1996: GBR
1988: GBR
1960: USR
1924: NED

[Click a crew for more information]

 

Mahe Drysdale powered past rival Ondrej Synek to comfortably reach the men's single sculls semifinals.
IGOR MEIJER/PHOTOSPORT

Mahe Drysdale powered past rival Ondrej Synek to comfortably reach the men's single sculls semifinals.

New Zealand have a pre-Games goal of matching the five medals they claimed in London four years ago.

Ad Feedback

Unless there is a remarkable boilover, one appears destined to be gold, to the peerless pair.

Bond and Murray effortlessly won their semifinal in light chop on Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.

Women’s single sculls
00:00:00
2014: NZL
2012: CZE
2004: GER
2000: BLR
1992: ROU
1988: GDR

[Click a crew for more information]

Now unbeaten in 68 consecutive races, they powered to the front and stayed there, seeing off the British challenge of Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes by three lengths.

Murray sent a warning to his rivals, believing their experience and big-race know how will hold them in good stead in Thursday's decider.

"We have learned what we need to do to win," he told NZ Newswire.

Emma Twigg had an easy ride in her women's single sculls quarterfinal, winning by 5.25 seconds to qualify for the semifinals.
IGOR MEIJER/PHOTOSPORT

Emma Twigg had an easy ride in her women's single sculls quarterfinal, winning by 5.25 seconds to qualify for the semifinals.

"Once you know how to win, that is your benchmark. We can handle all the training, now we know what needs to be done."

The lightweight four of James Hunter, Alistair Bond, Peter Taylor and James Lassche advanced in contrasting fashion.

They finished third in their semifinal behind Italy and France but did enough in the second half of the race to move past Great Britain and into a final featuring six evenly-matched boats.

Women’s coxless pair
00:00:00
2016: NZL
2012: GBR
2004: ROU
1996: AUS
1992: CAN
1988: ROU

[Click a crew for more information]

Both double sculls crews finished fourth, with MacFarlane and Stevenson missing out by just 0.05sec in their dramatic semi-final.

Earlier, single scullers Mahe Drysdale and Emma Twigg saw off key Czech rivals to post impressive quarter-final wins.

Drysdale claimed early bragging rights over four-time world champion Ondrej Synek with a resounding finish after trailing for the first two-thirds of the race.

The veteran Kiwi powered ahead before the 1500m mark and left the two-time Olympic silver medallist in his wake.

However, Drysdale was reluctant to call it a psychological blow after notching the second-quickest overall time behind European champion Damir Martin of Croatia.

"You saw Ondrej gave it away in the last bit so you can't read too much into it," Drysdale said.

"I always want to win. I'm not going to smash myself to do it but I was feeling pretty good so it was nice to get in front."

Twigg headed off 35-year-old defending champion Miroslava Knapkova after trailing through 500m.

The three-time Olympian built pressure through the middle stages and was three boat lengths clear by the finish. Her time was the eighth-quickest.

Stevenson and MacFarlane were pipped by 0.05sec into fourth place in their semifinal, with only the top three crews advancing. Their time of 6:52.97 was sixth-fastest in the semifinals, however they found themselves in the faster race.

 

 

The result is a huge disappointment for the duo, who triumphed at last year's world championships in France, although they have been off the pace in much of their lead-up to Rio.

Stevenson and MacFarlane appeared to have done enough to advance when they powered from fifth to fourth to third through each of the 500m stations. However, the United States crew of Meghan O'Leary and Ellen Tomek lifted again in a frenetic finish to deny the Kiwis.

Greece won the race, ahead of Lithuania, with the four leading boats separated by a length and less than one second.

Stevenson and MacFarlane were too disappointed to talk about the result, which comes at the end of a frustrating season of modest results.

High performance boss Alan Cotter says the duo were hopeful of rediscovering their best form in Rio.

"They haven't. They usually get their rhythm in the second half of a race but the others just held them out today," he told NZ Newswire.

The men's double scullers, Robbie Manson and Chris Harris, have also missed out on racing for a medal, finishing a distant fourth in their semifinal. Their time of 6:17.01 was 3.18 seconds back of Great Britain for the last of three finals berths.

Manson sensed their rhythm didn't seem right as they dropped to fourth early in the race.

"But it's been like that before and we've still performed," he said.

"We're both absolutely gutted, there's not much more we can say.

"We've trained for four years for this opportunity, we'd done everything right and we'd put ourselves in a position to perform."

- Stuff, NZN

Sign up here for the Rio Olympics: Going for Gold newsletter

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback