27.07.2008 – Graham Croker

Sydney University Boat Club’s Bronwen Watson won back-to-back World Rowing Championship gold medals when Australia out the women’s lightweight quad, rowed at Linz, Austria, on Sunday.

Watson crewed with Miranda Bennett, Alice McNamara and Ingrid Fenger to win gold in 6:36.41.

The title culminates a fairytale two years for Watson, who officially retired after winning a bronze medal in the same event at the 2003 World Championships in Milan and gold at the 2003 World Cup in Lucerne.

She came out of retirement two years ago and teamed with Tara Kelly, McNamara and Bennett to win the 2007 World Rowing Championship women’s lightweight quad, held in Munich.

“I had been out of boats for about 12 months then took it up again socially in England in 2005 – which gave me the chance to race at Women’s and Royal Henley plus an international regatta in Belgium,” Watson said.

“But when I came back to Australia to take up a head coaching position at a girls school I found sitting in the speed boat a really frustrating way to be on the water so I starting doing a bit of paddling. Before I knew it I was spending more time in lycra and training six days a week!

“I returned with a really positive attitude and initially only returned with the intention of regaining some fitness. I just set myself the goal of having a good time and possibly having a hit out at the State Championships.”

As they say, the rest is history.

Sydney University’s other rowers at the World Championships also fared well.

Fergus Pragnell teamed with Nick Baxter and coxswain Hugh Rawlinson to win bronze in the men’s coxed pair; Ryan Edwards teamed with Mathew Dignan to win bronze in the men’s junior pair; and Ashleigh Peppernell teamed with Rachel See, Beatrix Shaldrick and Olivia Heat to finish fifth in the women’s junior four.

The University was also represented at the Under 23 World Championships, held in Brandenburg, Germany.
The women’s double – Renee Kirby and Charlotte – coached by SUBC’s Phil Bourguignon, won the C Final after finishing 5th in their heat and 4th in the repechage. They are now ranked 13th overall.

Justin Quigley, James Goswell, Toby Lister and Richard Allsop were members of the men’s eight who finished 3rd in their heat and 4th in the semi-final, which progressed them to the C Final which they won, ranking them 7th overall.