7 July, 2015
New Zealand has won its first medal of the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea with a silver to rower Toby Cunliffe-Steel in the men’s lightweight single scull.
Cunliffe-Steel said the conditions were fast with a tailwind on picturesque Lake Tangeum, Chungju, the venue of the rowing regatta, which saw him produce a time of 6:58.43, a personal best, which had him just a fraction behind winner Jerzy Kowalski of Poland (6:56.88). Bence Tamas on Hungary was third.
``For me I’ve been fortunate enough to be racing for New Zealand at the world level since 2012 and in each of those events I’ve never made an A final. So, to have not only made an A final but to be on the podium too is a really big deal to me. I’m stoked.’’
``I guess it shows that I’m slowly improving and hopefully it means a bright future if I keep it up.
``It was a PB for me, so my fastest time I’ve ever done so again it shows that I’m improving and that things are going in the right direction and the way they should be. I couldn’t be happier.’’
Cunliffe-Steel said he was known for having a slower start but a quick finish.
``So I came out with a reasonable start and then just got on to a solid race plan, solid race speed and just kept doing that and then when I got towards the finish, and when I could hear the Kiwis, I just put down the hammer and said `right, time to empty the tank and see what we can do’ and managed to pull off a silver at the end of the day, so can’t be disappointed with that. ‘’
Coach Craig Smith said all four of the New Zealand rowers competing at the regatta had done personal bests, including Rachael Kennedy who had knocked four seconds off her previous fastest time.
Smith said the standard of competition at the World University Games regatta had been world-class and some countries, such as Lithuania, had taken their elite teams to the regatta.
In other results: Joshua Earl finished fifth in the men’s single scull with a time of 7:06.01; Kennedy was fifth in the women’s lightweight single sculls, finishing in 7:43.62 and Adelle Stead, who rowed in the B final of the women’s single sculls, finished tenth.
The World University Games is a major international sporting event that is held every two years for student athletes from around the world. This year more than 13,000 athletes from 141 countries are estimated to be competing in Gwangju. The rowing venue at Chungju is about three hours’ drive from Gwangju.
For more information contact Sue Eden, on behalf of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, on 010 2503 7705.