Fisa funding ensures larger NZ squad

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014

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Negotiations with the sport's governing body will see Rowing New Zealand send a larger than expected squad to the World Cup regatta in Sydney next month.

Funding from Fisa will enable Rowing NZ to send 14 athletes that are likely to contest six events at the regatta from March 28-30.

Rowing NZ sent 41 athletes to Sydney last season when the opening event of the World Cup season was held in the southern hemisphere for the first time. Kiwi boats won four golds, a silver and two bronzes, finishing third on the international points tally behind the hosts and Great Britain.

But budget requirements for 2014, which will see a large squad spend 80 days in Europe for the other two World Cup regattas and the world championships, meant the organisation was initially unable to send more than a skeleton crew across the Tasman to an event that was already bound to suffer from a lack of entries from Great Britain and the European rowing powerhouse countries.

Now New Zealand will be represented by a women's single scull boat, women's pair, lightweight women's double sculls and a men's eight, which will also split to race in the coxless four and pairs events.

"We're supporting Fisa - they've come through with a bit more support for us financially," Rowing NZ high performance manager Alan Cotter said.

"So we're able to support Australia in hosting the World Cup, and Fisa are happy with the crews that we're sending."

However, there's no guarantees that Rowing NZ will send their elite athletes in the women's boats, with the make-up of the squad to be decided after national trials at Lake Karapiro at the start of March.

New Zealand's top rowers in the women's single (Emma Twigg), pair (Rebecca Scown and Kayla Pratt) and lightweight double (Lucy Strack and Julia Edward) all made the finals at last year's world champs in Chungju, South Korea, with Twigg winning silver and Scown and Pratt collecting bronze.

The men's eight is expected to consist chiefly of the combination that won gold at last year's world under-23 champs and will be out to make a case that they should also be selected for the other World Cup events in France and Switzerland in June and July and the world champs in Amsterdam in August, as Rowing NZ aims to field crews in all categories at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Meanwhile, Mike Rodger has been added as part of the Rowing NZ elite coaching team, joining Richard Tonks, Noel Donaldson, Calvin Ferguson, Dave Thompson and Gary Hay. Rodger has been working with the women's eight, quad and pair from the summer squad this season.

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- Waikato Times

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