Rower Joseph Sullivan set for better times

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Joseph Sullivan
EMMA ALLEN/Fairfax NZ
LOOKING AHEAD: Joseph Sullivan.

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Joseph Sullivan gets his first chance to make 2013 a distant memory when he contests the Cambridge Town Cup regatta starting today.

The 2012 London Olympic gold medallist will team up in the men's premier double sculls at the three-day event at Lake Karapiro, partnered in the boat by Robbie Manson.

Sullivan had a horror 2013, omitted from the first World Cup squad for being out of shape and then being off the pace in the single scull for the remaining two World Cup events before withdrawing from the national team prior to the world champs.

However, a reinvigorated Sullivan rejoined the national elite squad late last year with a focus on further glory at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and now has chance to impress in the same boat he won gold with the now-retired Nathan Cohen in London.

With Sullivan and Cohen in different boats last year, Manson teamed up with Michael Arms and found immediate success. They won all three World Cup titles before a back injury to Arms hindered them at the world champs in South Korea, when they finished sixth in the final.

Arms will team up with Jeff Francis in the heats today as the majority of Rowing NZ's summer squad takes to the water for their first major racing of the season. Rowers from the Waikato and Auckland Regional Performance Centres will add to highly competitive fields, with only Curtis Rapley and Nathan Flannery missing from the NZ squad as they recover from injuries.

Heightened interest will also surround the men's single sculls, with Mahe Drysdale up against Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, who were awaiting the arrival this week of new sponsored Empacher boats from Germany to help them against the Olympic champion. Bond will be seeking his second victory this summer in the single over Drysdale after beating him in December, while Manson and former three-times world lightweight single sculls champs Duncan Grant are also in the field.

The women's single sculls field is headed by Emma Twigg, second at last year's world champs, while lightweights Lucy Strack, Julia Edward and Louise Ayling should battle out for silver on Sunday.

Strack and Edward will also team up against the heavyweights in the women's double sculls, where last year's world champs silver medallists Zoe Stevenson and Fiona Bourke have been placed in different boats. Stevenson teams up with Sarah Gray while Bourke is partnered by Kerri Gowler, with Twigg teaming up with Lucy Spoors.

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