Flying Kiwi double scullers get their revenge
Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson are fast gaining a reputation as fast gainers.
That was exemplified by yesterday's astounding gold medal-winning display in the women's double scull final at the world rowing championships in Amsterdam.
In a performance that brought back memories of the New Zealand 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 6 minutes 38.04 seconds - the second fastest time in the world.
"It was a pretty fun race," a delighted Bourke admitted.
"We were out there in lane six, which seems to be our lucky lane, and we didn't really know what was going on in the middle of the field.
"But we just gave it death, really."
Still, she and her crewmate didn't know they were first across the line.
"I knew that we'd got a medal, but I didn't know if we were first, second or third," Bourke said.
"No-one could tell me and I didn't know what was happening - 'did we win, did we lose?' After a wee while we found out we'd crossed the line first and it was probably a feeling of relief.
"You always think you're good enough, but now we know we're good enough."
Rather than sprinting late however, the 500m splits of the race showed the duo maintain a remarkably consistent pace throughout that proves too much for their fast-starting rivals.
"Every time we go out there, the intention is to try and get into the lead from the start," Bourke admitted.
"But unfortunately everybody else has the same idea. People try to shut us down early, but with a bit of fighting spirit, we never give up - if you think you can win, then you can win.
"That's what Zoe and I tend to do in the finals, just never say die. There's not many worse feelings than when you're the crew in front and someone's charging at you from behind."
The combination were denied gold at last year's world champs in Chungju by Lithuania by 0.04 seconds and have wanted revenge since.
But Bourke, who missed out on the 2012 Olympic final in the women's quad when a broken oar derailed their hopes, said her drive for success has a longer history.
"It's probably been on my mind to be honest for the last couple of years.
"Probably since London and not making the A final; I've been pretty driven to prove that I am good enough.
"And today I think I've proven to a few people that, yep, I'm up there with some of the best scullers and I'm only going to get better."
The final day of the regatta also saw a notable effort from the the Kiwi lightweight four.
James Lassche was forced to withdraw from the crew that had won two World Cup regattas this year ahead of their semifinal due to a back injury and replaced in the boat by Alistair Bond.
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 to claim silver for the second successive year.
- Waikato Times
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