St. Kitts’ rowers paddle to podium finish at world meet

A couple of St. Catharines rowers, competing in separate divisions, found themselves on the podium at the Rowing World Cup in Switzerland.

The lightweight women’s double of Melanie Kok of St. Catharines and Tracy Cameron of Shubenacadie, N.S. were bronze medalists in 6:55.86. China won this event – the only Olympic boat class for lightweight women – in 6:53.62 and the Netherlands overtook Canada by fractions of a second to finish in 6:55.50 during the weekend competitions.

“Our goal was just to row our own race and really attack it,” said Kok. “The Dutch crew still has to qualify for the Olympics (Canada has already secured a spot in this event), so they had a point to prove today.” This crew had a personal best time today.

The women’s eight, with St. Catharines’ Buffy Williams, also picked up a bronze in the event won by the U.S., last year’s World Champions. They were timed in 6:07.49, Australia was second in 6:07.91 and Canada followed closely in 6:08.23. With Williams are Jane Rumball of Fredericton, N.B., Darcy Marquardt of Richmond, B.C., Romina Stefancic of Victoria, B.C., Ashley Brzozowicz of Toronto, Sarah Bonikowsky of Orangeville, Ont., AndrĂ©anne Morin of Montreal, Heather Mandoli of Kelowna, B.C., and Lesley Thompson-Willie of London.

The men’s quad of Steve Van Knotsenburg of Beamsville, Gabe Bergen of 100 Mile House, B.C., Robert Weitemeyer of Coquitlam, B.C., and James Dunaway of Duncan, B.C. was sixth in 6:00.26. The quad’s next challenge is Olympic qualification.

The Canadian men’s eight and the men’s pair were gold medal winners at the competition.

Five Canadian boats will now attempt to qualify for the Olympics at an upcoming regatta in Poznan, Poland beginning on June 15.