Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler race at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

JOHANNESBURG - Continuously breaking new ground, double Olympic rower Kirsten McCann became the first South African women to win a gold medal at the at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne.

McCann and Dutch rower Marieke Keijser were embroiled in a cat-and-mouse battle in the lightweight sculls final with the South African racing claiming victory.

The two went through the first 500m neck-and-neck before Keijser took a slight edge at the halfway mark.

McCann changed gears over the final kilometre opening a one-second gap with 500 metres to go.

She raced home in time of 7:45.750 to claim a three-second victory over Keijser.

Making her Olympic debut in Beijing 2008 as a 20-year-old, McCann has established herself as one of the world’s top female lightweight rowers.

In 2010 she became the first South African woman to win an Under-23 World Championship medal, finishing third in the single sculls.

Three years later she would become World Student Champion before winning the 2015 world double sculls bronze medal with Ursula Grobler.

This bodes well for her chances at the World Championships in Florida in September.

On Sunday the men’s four crew consisting of London 2012 Olympic gold medallist John Smith, Rio 2016 silver medallist Lawrence Brittain; David Hunt, and Jake Green came painstakingly close to a podium place.

The quartet missed the bronze medal by five hundredths of a second finishing fourth in 5:54.770.

They went through the first 1 500m in fifth place surging over the final 500m to come within a whisker of a medal.

The British crew turned in a solid performance winning in a time of 5:52.920 followed by Italy and the Netherlands.

[email protected]

The Star