Sports

St. Catharines Rowing Club wins three gold medals on Day 2 of Henley

By Bernd Franke, Postmedia News

Coxswain Nicholas Murray-Coplen is tossed into Martindale Pond after the St. Catharines Rowing Club wins the gold medal in the under-17 men's eight at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Friday in St. Catharines. JULIE JOCSAK/Postmedia News

Coxswain Nicholas Murray-Coplen is tossed into Martindale Pond after the St. Catharines Rowing Club wins the gold medal in the under-17 men's eight at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Friday in St. Catharines. JULIE JOCSAK/Postmedia News

Anna Maloney and Emily Stewart rocked a different shade of red when they won their latest medal rowing together on Martindale Pond in St. Catharines.

 

Instead of the burgundy of the Saint Michael Mustangs, their high school team in Niagara Falls, they were fashionably fast in the cerise of the St. Catharines Rowing Club.

That was about the only difference Friday for a pair that has been sculling together for four years. Gold, the colour of their medal for winning the under-19 women’s double on the second day of finals at the 135th Royal Canadian Henley, was the same size as the ear-to-ear grins on their happy and relieved faces.

Third time in the double at the Canadian national club championships was the charm for a twosome that has been competing together since they were put into the same boat as 14-year-olds.

“The first year we weren’t fast enough to make the final, and the second time we came second,” said Stewart, who along with Maloney set the pace in the double at the Canadian Secondary Schools Association on the same course two months ago.

It was their second gold medal in as many years at a prestigious competition at which only gold medals are awarded. In 2016, they were in a quad that finished first.

Maloney and Stewart, who also led the field to the finish line in a qualifying heat Wednesday and a semifinal Thursday, weren’t worried that they left their best race on the water when they approached the starting line for the final.

“There’s always that little bit of worry that someone is just going to come out ahead, but I think we held it together pretty well,” Maloney said. “We knew what we wanted to do, and we did it.”

They credited their fourth-place finish at the Canada Summer Games in Kenora recently for further preparing them for the final race as juniors at the Henley.

“The racing environment really helps, because we know there are other crews that are faster,” Maloney said, adding they recommitted to achieving their goals as a result.

St. Catharines was the host with the most medals on the second day of finals at the world-class regatta.

In addition to the pace-setting performance in the women’s double, first-place finishes in the senior men’s 64-kilogram coxed four and under-17 men’s eight moved St. Catharines into tie with Argentina atop the team standings, with three medals each.

Katherine Walker raced teammates Allison Whitty, second; and Caitlin Pauls, fourth; across the finish line in the senior women’s lightweight single to give the Ridley Graduate Boat Club its second gold medal.

Walker, 25, of Stoney Creek said the final was “sort of like practice.”

“It was a comfortable situation, we always train together, so that made racing sort of easier in a weird way,” she said.

Having Pauls and Whitty competing in the same race brought out the best in her.

“They always push,” she said. “They’re fast, they are awesome athletes.”

Walker advanced to the final after finishing first in both the heat and semifinals. She said there is always the worry a rower may not always be able to string three strong performances together.

“You always think that, but you just do your best and build off the previous races,” she said. “You have to keep looking forward I guess.”

Nancy Storrs, who coached all three Ridley Grad rowers who made it into the final, said she didn’t have to think twice about who to cheer for as the boats approached the finish line.

“I was cheering for Ridley,” she said matter-of-factly. “And I knew all three of them deserved to be in the top, so that was good.”

“They’ve been training together. Katherine has sort of been the fastest but, at the same time, anything can happen in rough water.”

It drizzled on and off after the 16 finals got underway shortly before 3 p.m.

The wind also picked up creating choppy water at times, though not enough to deny coach Meredith Petrychanko’s St. Catharines crew gold in the under-17 men’s eight.

“We’re used to it,” a smiling Lucas Celia said when asked about conditions on the course in the final.

The eight made their final push at the 500-metre mark, much earlier than normal, but the crew didn’t second guess the decision as they raced to the win.

“We had a lot of open water and a lot of confidence in ourselves,” Celia said.

Along with coxswain Nicholas Murray-Coplen, who was tossed into the water after receiving his gold medal, the crew included Andrew Barry, Joe Coughler, Ryan Holland, Evan MacRae, Christian McAlpine, David Picard and Jack Pratt.

Gavin Allan, Justin Aubin, Donald Bagozzi, Malcolm Cavanagh and Dana Warren, coxie; made the podium for the St. Catharines Rowing Club in the senior men’s coxed four, also coached by Petrychanko.

Finals continue Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.

All final races are being live-streamed and available online at www.henleyregatta.ca.