Canada’s women’s eight reaches the podium

rowingThe Canadian women’s eight, with Welland native Kelley Shaffer, is returning home with hardware from the Samsung World Rowing Cup 1 in Penrith, Australia, at the Sydney Olympic Regatta Course.

Australia won the women’s eight final in 6:06.98, with the U.S. in silver position in 6:07.83, having overpowered Canada (6:10.47) in the last 500m of the 2,000m course.

“What a great race! We seemed to improve from the heats to the reps and into the final we found our stride,” said Darcy Marquardt, 2012 Olympic silver medalist. “(Coxswain) Lesley called a phenomenal race plan and we really responded to all her calls. I’m proud to have raced with this young group of talented rowers.”

Lesley Thompson-Willie is no stranger to this course – she also helped guide the Olympic bronze medal Canadian women’s eight to the podium in 2000.

The eight for this first World Cup was a mix of young athletes rowing with some Olympic veterans: Thompson-Willie of London, ON, Darcy Marquardt of Richmond, B.C., Ashley Brzozowicz of Peterborough, ON, Krista Guloien of Port Moody, B.C., Kate Goodfellow of Ottawa, Sarah Black of Ottawa, Christine Roper of Victoria, B.C., Carolyn Ganes of Saskatoon, and Shaffer.

“It was an exciting opportunity to test ourselves early in the Olympic cycle,” said Carolyn Ganes, who was an alternate with the 2012 Olympic team. “We know there’s a lot of work still to be done, but it was a good step on our journey to Rio.”

At the same regatta, Carling Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont. finished sixth in the women’s single in 7:54.27. Olympic medalist Kim Crow of Australia won this race in 7:35.80.

Emily Cameron of Summerside, P.E.I., Shaffer, Zeeman, and Goodfellow finished fifth overall in the quad sculls final in 6:31.62. Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand won the medals in this event.

The young combination of Christine Roper of Victoria, B.C., and Black finished sixth in the pair in 7:24.30. Great Britain, the U.S. and Australia reached the podium.

Canada won two medals at this regatta. On Saturday (March 23), Jaclyn Halko of Uxbridge, Ont., won Canada a gold medal in the lightweight women’s single event.

Also yesterday, Lindsay Sferrazza of St. Catharines, and Jaclyn Halko won the lightweight women’s double B final to finish seventh overall.

This is the first time that the World Rowing Cup has been raced in Australia and 19 nations travelled to the Sydney Olympic regatta course to race for World Cup points. Australia had a stellar regatta – taking gold in the women’s quadruple sculls and men’s four as well as the blue riband events of the women’s single sculls and women’s eight. Full results at