03.06.2008 – Graham Croker

A regatta in Poznan, Poland, on June 15 will determine the Olympic destiny of Sydney University Boat Club oarsmen Francis Hegarty and Matt Ryan, who are members of the Australian men’s four.

A top-two finish in the World Cup event at Poznan would see the four go straight into the Australian rowing team for the Beijing Games in August.

That scenario became a distinct possibility yesterday in Lucerne, Switzerland, where the four pulled off a World Cup rowing upset to stamp themselves as Games medal contenders with a start-to-finish win.

Hegerty, Cameron McKenzie-McHarg, James Marburg and Ryan surged home a boat length ahead of Holland in a world-class time of 5min 52.04sec.

SUBC head coach Phil Bourguignon said it was a wonderful result for the crew, who are now a real chance of making it to the Games.

“A top-two result in Poznan would not only be great for the four, but have a knock-on effect for Terrence Alfred, another SUBC rower,” Mr Bourguignon said. “Terrence was in the Reserve men’s pair that finished second in the final in Lucerne. If the men’s four gain an Olympic berth, the pair will be automatically elevated to Olympic reserves.”

In other results in Lucerne, the women’s eight, which included Sydney University’s Liz Kell and Brooke Pratley, and the men’s reserve pair collected silver, while the men’s eight, with SUBC’s Jeremy Stevenson and coxswain Marty Rabjohns on board, finished fourth.

The men’s and women’s eights have already qualified for the Beijing Games.