The South African men’s four rowing crew qualified on Sunday morning in Lucerne, Switzerland, for the Tokyo Olympics when they won gold at the Olympic Qualification Regatta.
With this victory, they ensured that South Africa will have two crews competing at the Games.
During the previous World Championships, Lawrence Brittain and John Smith qualified a men’s pair crew.
The two Olympic veterans were also instrumental in helping the fours qualify. The South Africans — Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente — were impressive at the weekend. They won all three their races (heats, semi-final and final).
Very close racing
After the semi-finals, it was clear that the men’s four would be a cracking race.
The rowers certainly did not disappoint. South Africa took the early lead in the final, with Canada and France behind. Canada decided to rate 40 strokes a minute down the entire course to catch the speedy South Africans. It was to no avail.
The South Africans upped their stroke rate at crucial times to ensure they stay ahead. The race was decided in the third quarter when Canada did not let up, and France faltered slightly — it was enough. Into the final sprint, France could not make up the deficit. South Africa and Canada took the two qualification places.
A mere second separated the two crews.