Surprise winner Julia Edward keen to double up
Julia Edward doesn't want to stay solo for long.
The Rotorua rower was a surprise gold medalist in the lightweight women's single scull final at the World Cup regatta in Aiguebelette, France, on Sunday night (NZ time).
Edward usually competes in the lightweight double with crewmate Lucy Strack, but injury and a loss of form saw Strack left in New Zealand ahead of the regatta. Rowing NZ chose to put Edward into the single and she flourished in France, winning her heat, semifinal and final in some style.
"It's exciting to win in a single - this is my first international singles race," Edward said.
But with no lightweight single scull event at the Olympics, she'd rather be racing with her close friend Strack, who could rejoin the team for the final World Cup regatta in Lucerne next month if she proves her form at a Winter Series at Lake Karapiro.
"Hopefully she goes really well there and then she'll meet me in Lucerne," Edward said.
"The single's a great boat to get strong and mentally tougher in and that will help with the double. But the double is the Olympic boat and that's where I want to be next year and in 2016."
Edward said she had no idea she'd perform so well in France as the New Zealand team claimed five gold and a bronze from 11 competing crews.
"I know how I go domestically, and we've got such a tough group of girls in New Zealand to race against. It just shows how strong we have it back in New Zealand.
"In the time trial heat, you really have no idea how you've gone when you cross the finish line. When we got the times back it said I was six seconds ahead of second place - that was quite a good indicator because I didn't feel like that race was an amazing one.
"I thought I could do better."
She did in the final, winning in a time of 7:41.17, almost two seconds ahead of Great Britain's Ruth Walczak.
"I just tried to hold pace for the first 500 metres and to my surprise I was half a length up. So I just tried to hold that distance and then tried to double it and double it, because I knew I had a strong middle.
"Pretty much the last 500 I was just trying to hold on."
New Zealand won three single sculling golds, with Mahe Drysdale and Emma Twigg scoring outstanding victories.
Drysdale produced a superbly timed race to defeat the Czech Republic's Ondrej Synek while Twigg, who won at the opening World Cup regatta of the season in Sydney in March, held off a late dash by China's Jingli Duan.
The victory by the men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray was their 17th consecutive title at Olympic, world championship and World Cup level to extend their world record.
The lightweight men's four of Curtis Rapley, James Lassche, Peter Taylor and James Hunter gained some revenge on their Danish arch-rivals by winning gold after finishing behind them in silver at last year's world champs.
The women's quad of Erin-Monique O'Brien, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Sarah Gray also produced a tremendous display to win bronze.