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Australian University Games – Uni Wins Centenary Cup

The Sydney University team spearheaded by a triple win in Women?s heavyweight events surged to their third successive Centenary Cup win at the Australian University Rowing Championships held last week at Wivenhoe Dam west of Brisbane. The Centenary Cup is awarded to the university with the most points earned from all finals contested at the Championships. With two races remaining on Saturday?s finals program the hosts, University of Queensland had taken the lead after a win by the 2002 World Lightweight Quad Champion Marguerite Houston in the Women?s Lightweight Sculls. In the penultimate race Sydney University Women had a convincing win in the heavyweight four. This gave our women a triple, as the same squad had earlier taken out the Women?s Eights and the Women?s Pair.

The finals racing concluded with the Oxford and Cambridge Cup for Men?s Eights with a number of national representatives included in the UTS, Queensland and Sydney crews. Sydney and UTS started quickly but after 750 metres UTS upped the tempo and moved out on Sydney and Queensland. Challenges came later from Queensland who moved into second with 600 metres to go and then from Sydney who over the last few hundred metres cut UTS?s lead from clear water to around three quarters of a length, Across the line first was UTS in 5.41 then Sydney ? length, Queensland third half a length back and Melbourne a few lengths back in fouth.

With 48 points from the four and sixty four points from the eight Sydney University surged into winning position in the Centenary Cup and were once again the premier rowing university at the Championships. Final points were Sydney 352, Queensland 303, Melbourne 300, UTS 288, Western Australia 185, New South Wales 137. These were the points for the leading six. In total 16 universities competed in the 2003 AUC Rowing.

Other highlights for Sydney University included a win in the inaugural Mixed Eights. This was an experimental event raced over 1000 metres and was very well supported with full fields in both fours and eights. In the eights race Sydney University stroke Dan Burke was forced to jettison the race plan after a start which saw the Sydney Uni crew lose a lot of ground as they veered out of the lane ? out went a settled rate of 36 to accommodate the mixed crew and a new combination to be replaced by a hard push at 38 and 40 over 600 metres to get back in the race. With 300 metres to go it looked like the smooth stroking Melbourne crew had best mastered the art of blending male and female rowers and their female stroke had them looking the main chance for victory. Pundits in the camp later theorized that when Dan Burke realized that his rival stroke was a woman and ahead of him he reproduced a similar finish to the 2000 Olympic eight but on this occasion with a winning result as Sydney University hit the lead with 200 to go and powered away to win by half a length.

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