subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now
Katherine Williams, left, and Paige Badenhorst at training. Picture: SUPPLIED
Katherine Williams, left, and Paige Badenhorst at training. Picture: SUPPLIED

SA’s rowers were handed a double dose of pain in Lucerne on Tuesday as the women’s double sculls and men’s four failed to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

Both needed to finish in the top two at the World Rowing Final Olympic qualification regatta to book their tickets, but Katherine Williams and Paige Badenhorst ended fourth and Luc Daffarn, Jake Green, James Mitchell and Henry Torr finished fifth in their decider.

Williams and Badenhorst missed their first qualification attempt at the 2023 world championships by one position and less than a second but on this occasion they were more than 5sec adrift.

Czechia won in 7min 02.94sec ahead of Britain in 7:03.43, with Germany third in 7:07.43.

Williams and Badenhorst, who crossed the line in 7:08.60, finished above those three teams at the world championships but all three nations went to Switzerland with new combinations.

The journey isn’t quite over for Williams and Badenhorst, whose focus shifts to the women’s single scull boat that Courtney Westley qualified at the African championships in 2023.

The boat belongs to the country, but now the three comrades in arms will have to go head to head in a battle of Spartacus proportion. This will resemble the cruel climax of the famous 1967 Hollywood movie in which the last-surviving captured heroes of the failed slave revolt against Rome, Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus and Tony Curtis’ Antoninus, are forced to fight to the death. 

The victor will get to the greatest sporting show on Earth, racing in Paris alongside SA’s only other qualified boat, the men’s pair of John Smith and Chris Baxter, who compete at the World Cup II regatta in Lucerne at the weekend.

The men’s four qualifying race was won by Italy in 6:00.24, with hosts Switzerland taking second spot in 6:02.66. Germany were third in 6:04.54 and Denmark fourth in 6:07.89. The South Africans clocked 6:08.45.

Lucerne punched out Olympic tickets for SA ahead of the past two Games, with the men’s four qualifying for Rio 2016 and again in Tokyo 2020.

Rowing has won three Olympic medals since readmission at Barcelona 1992, making it the only local code outside swimming and athletics to have enjoyed multiple podium finishes in that time.

subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.