Johannesburg – South Africa's men and women enjoyed mixed fortunes on the opening day of the World Rowing Championships in Chungju, Korea, the Road to Rio website reported.
The lightweight men’s fours, who took gold at the London Olympics last year, had to go into the repechage round in their category for a chance to make it into the final.
With Matthew Brittain missing from the championships, his replacement Michael Voerman combined with James Thompson, John Smith and Sizwe Ndlovu to finish fifth in six minutes, 9:50 seconds (6:09.50), with only the first two in the heat going through automatically.
Rowing in the third of three women’s pairs heats, Olympians Lee-Ann Persse and Naydene Smith ended second behind the United States.
Starting in lane three, the South Africans clocked 7:26.40, with the Americans beating them in 7:24.03. The US team led from start to finish and the South Africans also held their position for the entire race.
Germany and Italy made up the field with the first three combinations in each heat going through to the semi-finals.
In the lightweight singles, Ursula Grobler won her heat to progress directly to the semi-final. Drawn in lane five, she ended in 7:58.4, comfortably ahead of Belarussian Alena Kryvasheyenka (8:04.59).
There was also success in men’s pairs for Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain, who came second in their heat. The South African duo clocked 6:51.95 behind Frenchmen Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette (6:44.47).
Not going through via the direct route were Kirsten McCann and Kate Johnstone. They ended third in the lightweight women’s skulls in 7:14.39, behind the US and Netherlands and now go through to the repechage.
Earlier this year McCann had won a gold medal at the World Student Games in Kazan, Russia. – Sapa