Nicole van Wyk edges Ursula Grobler in first rowing battle

Veteran Kirsten McCann (left) and Nicole van Wyk, the only SA women to have won world under-23 championship medals.
Veteran Kirsten McCann (left) and Nicole van Wyk, the only SA women to have won world under-23 championship medals.
Image: Alaister Russell

Nicole van Wyk has edged Ursula Grobler in the first of their battles to win a seat in the lightweight women’s double sculls combination at the Rowing World Cup in Poland next month.

National coach Roger Barrow has named five boats for the regatta in Poznan from June 21-23‚ SA’s last international foray before the world championships in Austria from August 25 to September 1.

The world championships will double as Olympic qualifiers for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games‚ and Barrow’s chief goal this year is getting boats to Japan.

Van Wyk‚ 24‚ will join Kirsty McCann‚ 30‚ in the lightweight double‚ with Grobler‚ 39‚ rowing in the single sculls.

The lightweight double is an Olympic event‚ but the lightweight single isn’t.

The next showdown between Van Wyk and Grobler‚ who returned late last year after taking time off following the Rio Games where she and McCann ended fifth‚ will be for the world championships.

“We’ll assess their performances for worlds‚” said Barrow‚ adding most top crews were expected to compete in Poland.

“It could change. It’s very close between Ursh and Nicole.”

Their decisive and all-important contest will be about getting to Tokyo — assuming the boat qualifies and that McCann retains the No1 spot in the boat.

Rio Olympic silver medallist Lawrence Brittain and London 2012 gold medallist John Smith will team up in the premier men’s pairs boat.

Jake Green‚ David Hunt‚ Kyle Schoonbee and Sandro Torrente form the men’s four.

Barrow’s fifth boat is the young duo of Charles Brittain and Luc Daffarn‚ who are applying pressure on the six heavyweights ranked above them.

Barrow’s system is based on internal competition for seats in boats‚ and it harvested medals at the last two Olympics as well as a few world championship podium finishes along the way.

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