Australia have grabbed two silver medals on the penultimate day of the rowing world championships in France.
The men’s four and men’s quadruple sculls stepped up again on Lake Aiguebelette in Saturday’s finals, two days after both crews qualified their boats for next year’s Rio Olympics.
Will Lockwood, Josh Dunkley-Smith, Spencer Turrin and Alex Hill led at the 1000m halfway mark and held a narrow advantage with about 400m remaining before being outsprinted by the form Italian crew, who crossed the line in a time of 5mins 46.78sec.
Australia (5:48.74) just held off a surging Great Britain (5:49.00).
Their sculling counterparts – Cameron Girdlestone, David Crawshay, David Watts and Karsten Forsterling – produced a composed race.
They positioned themselves nicely in second spot just behind Germany, but couldn’t go with them when the pressure was applied over the final 300m and settled for silver a second-and-a-half behind.
Estonia got home for the bronze medal.
In between the double silvers, Australia’s women’s quadruple sculls of Jennifer Cleary, Jessica Hall, Kerry Hore and Madeleine Edmunds were fifth in their final to claim the last automatic qualification berth for Rio.
The men’s pair of Jack Hargreaves and Nicholas Wheatley were last in their six-boat final, won by the classy New Zealand crew of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond who are unbeaten in seven years.
“It was neck and neck all the way,” said Dunkley-Smith, who only got a seat in the four after Alex Lloyd broke his collarbone in a bike crash in Italy a month ago.
“The Italians were just explosive. It’s a big challenge to be in a boat only for the world championships.”