Best ever world rowing champs medal haul
Memorable gold-medal winning performances from the women's double scull crew and Emma Twigg have propelled New Zealand to a phenomenal medal haul at the world rowing champs.
Men's single sculler Mahe Drysdale and the men's lightweight four also added silvers on the final day of the week-long regatta in Amsterdam, for New Zealand to end with nine medals - six gold, two silver and one bronze.
That made it the most successful world championship event in New Zealand's rowing history as the team backed up their World Cup series win by topping the world champs' medal table ahead of Great Britain and Australia.
At Lake Karapiro in 2010, New Zealand won 10 medals, but just three gold, along with three silver and four bronze.
The women's double scull partnership of Zoe Stevenson and Fiona Bourke were denied gold at last year's world champs in Chungju by Lithuania by 0.04 seconds.
But last night they staged their now trademark late surge to race past their rivals to win gold and extract their revenge.
In a performance that brought back memories of the NZ men's double scull combination of Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen at the 2012 London Olympics, Stevenson and Bourke came from a distant fifth after 500 metres and fourth at the halfway stage - more than three seconds behind leaders Australia - to launch their charge.
Out in lane six, where critics felt it was impossible to win from, the Kiwis flew through the last half of the race to haul in Poland and Australia and won going away in a time of six minutes 38.04 seconds - the second-fastest time in the world.
Twigg capped the perfect season off with a powerful victory over defending champion Kim Crow of Australia.
The 27-year-old had earlier won gold at all three World Cup regattas this year in Sydney, Aiguebelette and Lucerne and again proved too strong for the Australian, taking the lead before the halfway stage and establishing a winning break. Twigg's victory time of 7:14.95 was almost two and a half seconds quicker than the silver medalist.
Twigg will now head to study in Europe and may miss the entire 2015 season - including Olympic qualifying at next year's world champs, which would leave the task of qualifying the women's single scull boat in the hands of an inferior sculler.
Chasing his sixth world championship title - to go with Olympic gold and bronze - Drysdale staged a tense battle with his fierce on-water rival and off-water friend Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic.
Drysdale made his trademark move in the second half of the 2000m race to draw level with Synek and the pair traded blows down the Bosbaan for the rest of their dogfight.
The 35-year-old Kiwi looked likely to land gold with 200m left but Synek dug deep to go past Drysdale and win in a sharp 6:37.12; a margin of victory of 0.68 seconds.
The Kiwi lightweight four had won gold at the last two World Cup regattas this year prior to Amsterdam but received a major setback following their heat.
James Lassche was forced to withdraw from the crew ahead of their semifinal due to a back injury and replaced in the boat by Alistair Bond.
The younger brother of Hamish Bond pulled out of his scheduled C final in the lightweight double scull with crewmate Adam Ling to take Lassche's place, but it was an incredibly tough task for the new set-up to chase gold they'd been eyeing since silver behind Denmark at last year's world champs.
The new lineup of James Hunter, Bond, Peter Taylor and Curtis Rapley almost pulled off a miraculous win, but had to bow in the latter stages to the Danes by just over a second and a half.
Rowing New Zealand will now name a high performance summer squad on September 10 for the group to commence training on September 29 as an extended build-up to Olympic qualifying year.
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