New Zealand rowers exceed expectations

Last updated 05:00 08/11/2010
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HILLARY LEAVES CHRISTCHURCH: Going for a walk around Hagley Park accompanied by security personnel.
Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan
MARK TAYLOR/Waikato Times
JUBILANT: Nathan Cohen (left) and Joseph Sullivan celebrate after winning the men's double sculls on Lake Karapiro yesterday.

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New Zealand's double-digit medal haul from the world rowing championships that ended at Lake Karapiro yesterday exceeded expectations.

Rowing New Zealand chief executive Simon Peterson said they had "hoped for eight podiums".

The host nation ended the regatta with 10 medals – three gold, three silver and four bronze – and were the third-highest pointscoring team at the eight-day event behind Great Britain and Germany.

It was New Zealand's most profitable world championship return and swamped their effort when they last hosted the regatta in 1978, when they won just one bronze.

The final day was capped for New Zealand by gold in the men's double sculls final when Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen rode a wave of home support to surge past Great Britain in the last 500 metres.

"I'm still shaking ... I can't quite believe it. It is a dream come true," Cohen said soon after the race.

"You train your whole life for it ... I can't quite put it into words."

Sullivan has been a prolific gold medal winner at world under-23 level and made a meteoric rise to elite with the win yesterday.

"There's nothing like an elite world title," Sullivan said. "It just brings it home and being in New Zealand – couldn't ask for anything more."

The combination weren't often mentioned as big medal hopes after a disappointing European campaign earlier this year but Cohen said a new focus on their return worked a treat.

"In the last 16 weeks we went back and just rowed our own boat. We threw away all our data, all our numbers and just started focusing on what we had to do and getting our boat going.

"When we started doing that, things started clicking, we started to get this real self-belief in each other.

"Joe started to develop a real awesome rhythm and my job was easy – I just had to follow and pretty much not stuff up.

"This is one day I'm going to remember for the rest of my life."

Earlier, Kiwi women's lightweight single sculler Louise Ayling won silver while the young New Zealand men's eight capped the regatta with a gallant fifth in their final which was won by defending champions Germany.

"I think it shows our high performance programme is on track for the 2012 London Olympics," Peterson said.

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- Waikato Times

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