Lightweight Matthew Dunham wins first title at national rowing champs
Matthew Dunham continues to push his New Zealand selection cause after starring at the national rowing champs on Friday.
The Waikato Regional Performance Centre athlete picked up his first gold coat, awarded to winners of premier lightweight events, at Lake Ruataniwha, Twizel, with victory in the men's premier lightweight single scull.
In a tightly-contested race, a surge from Dunham took him clear saw him win gold ahead of 2015 world champ Adam Ling (Waikato RPC), with Harrison Somerville (Central RPC) third. Dunham was a reserve for New Zealand team last year but excelled when given his chance in the lightweight men's four as in injury replacement for Peter Taylor, with the crew twice winning World Cup golds.
Another lightweight to stand out was dual world champion Zoe McBride.
READ MORE: Finals underway at nationals
As expected, she won the women's premier lightweight single scull ahead of fellow Central RPC rower Jackie Kiddle and Auckland's Lucy Jonas, and also teamed up with Kiddle to gain a meritorious bronze in the premier heavyweight double sculls behind the Waikato RPC duo of Hannah Osborne and Brooke Donoghue, with Southern RPC's Olivia Loe and Lucy Spoors taking silver.
London 2012 gold medallist Nathan Cohen teamed up with younger brother Hayden to finish sixth when representing Invercargill in the premier men's double sculls.
The title went to the NZ 2016 Olympic Games duo of Chris Harris and Robbie Manson (Central RPC) in 6:23.02, with John Storey and Nathan Flannery of Southern RPC close-up second and Lewis Hollows and Giacomo Thomas of Auckland RPC taking bronze ahead of Dunham and fellow lightweight Toby Cunliffe-Steel.
Harris said the duo were well aware how hard the race was going to be.
"We planned to go out hard from the start and keep pushing away, which we managed to do.
"There are lots of good scullers out there, we just focussed on our own boat and tried to row as fast as we could."
James Hunter and Tom Murray (Central RPC) secured victory for the second year running in the premier men's pair, crossing the line in 6:35.21, comfortably ahead of Anthony Allen and Paddy McInnes of Waikato RPC in silver, and James McAnallen and Corey McCaffrey of Central RPC in bronze.
The women's pair title was claimed by Emma Dyke and Grace Prendergast of Southern RPC, followed by Kelsey Bevan and Kayla Pratt (Auckland RPC) nearly ten seconds behind, and Kerri Gowler and Ruby Tew of Central RPC third.