Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
29 Sep 2017
8:06 pm

Kirsten McCann makes rowing history for South Africa

Wesley Botton

She's the first local women to win a world title in the sport.

Kirsten McCann. Photo: FISA.

Producing a blinding performance in Sarasota on Friday night, Kirsten McCann made history by charging to gold in the women’s single sculls final at the World Rowing Championships.

She became the first South African woman to earn a rowing world title, and the first SA rower to secure a medal in a singles boat at the global spectacle.

Having clocked the fastest time in the semifinals on Thursday, McCann went even quicker in the battle for the medals, covering the 2 000m distance in 7:38.78.

After getting off to a fast start, she slipped to third position at the halfway mark, but the 29-year-old Tuks-HPC rower clawed her way back in the second half and tore across the line more than two seconds clear of Dutch silver medallist Marieke Keijser.

McCann bagged her second career medal at the global championships after pocketing bronze with Ursula Grobler in the double sculls boat in Aiguebelette two years ago.

Meanwhile, with McCann earning the national team’s first medal after six days of competition, the squad had one more chance for a podium place at the 47th edition of the annual showpiece.

Paralympic rower Sandra Khumalo, who finished second in her repechage on Thursday, was set to compete in the women’s single sculls A final on Sunday.

The rest of the SA team had been relegated to lower-tier finals.

Three boats were scheduled to compete in C finals of their disciplines later on Friday evening, while the lightweight men’s double sculls crew of Vaughn Botes and Nicholas Oberholzer were due to line up in the B final on Saturday.