Australian rowers produce stirring Olympic silver
Australia’s first Olympic rowing mum Sarah Tait and crew-mate Kate Hornsey claimed a welcome silver medal on Wednesday but a second gold continued to prove elusive for the struggling Australian Olympic team.
AUSTRALIA’S first Olympic rowing mum Sarah Tait and crew-mate Kate Hornsey claimed a welcome silver medal on Wednesday but a second gold continued to prove elusive for the struggling Australian Olympic Team.
Tait, 29, the only survivor of the infamous women’s eight crew which bombed in Athens when Sally Robbins lay down before the finish line, took time off the sport in 2009 to give birth to daughter Leila.
Her silver was a sweet reward for her return to Olympic competition, though the Australian pair finished well behind Heather Stanning and Helen Glover who won arch-rival Britain’s first gold medal of the 2012 Games in front of Princess Anne at Eton Dorney.
“In the last couple of strokes, it must have been, we popped out in silver which is just unbelievable for us,” said an excited Tait.
The news was not so good for Australia’s highly-fancied men’s eight, who finished last in their blue-ribbon final won by strong favourites Germany.
At the Olympic pool, Melanie Schlanger qualified second fastest for the 100m freestyle semi-finals and the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team were the quickest into the final.
Schlanger and the relay team’s medal hopes follow a silver to Alicia Coutts in the women’s 200m individual medley and a surprise bronze to Bronte Barratt in the women’s 200m freestyle.
But there was bad news for Australia as Cate Campbell was forced to withdraw due to illness.
The Olympic relay gold medallist had to scratch from the heats after suffering a bout of gastro.
She has been in isolation for two days and will be doing everything in her power to recover in time to fulfil her dream of swimming alongside sister Bronte in the 50m freestyle starting on Friday.
“It’s a pity she couldn’t prove herself individually in (the 100m) but in the end you’ve got to cut your losses and try and redeem something out of these situations,” said swim coach Leigh Nugent.
Australian team chiefs in London remain confident of a top five finish on the medal table despite a slow start which produced just one gold, four silver and two bronze medals to date, good enough only for 13th position.
“It’s the Olympic Games and things happen but we are not panicking. A top five finish is still the plan,” said deputy chef de mission Kitty Chiller.
Chiller said Australia had missed out on some medals they expected, like the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, but had picked up others they hadn’t expected, like the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay gold and Barratt’s bronze.
James Magnussen will give the team a much needed lift if he can reproduce his top form and win the men’s 100m freestyle final following a mediocre start in the sprint relay.
Australia’s women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team has also qualified fastest for the final.
The Kookaburras were in sparkling form as they trounced their 2008 Olympic semi-final conquerors Spain 5-0 to remind everyone why they are ranked the world’s No.1 team.
They can ensure a semi-final berth if they beat Argentina in their next Pool A match on Friday.