State's rowers shine at time trials

AN all-Tasmanian national lightweight four is a distinct possibility after the latest stage of Rowing Australia's crew selections.

A series of four five-kilometre time trials held on Sydney's Napean River at the weekend determined that the top four candidates for the prized boat are Tamar's Ali Foot and Blair Tunevitsch, Sam Beltz, of Lindisfarne, and Huon's Tom Gibson.

Although Tamar-based Queenslanders Darren Purcell and Nick Silcox remain in contention, the scenario understandably delighted Brett Crow who doubles as Tasmanian Institute of Sport head rowing coach and category lead of the national lightweight program.

``There's a real possibility it could happen,'' he said.

``It's a long way to go, with people chipping away at their heels, but it's certainly a good time for Tassie rowing.''

Crow said the prospect had arisen since Gibson's decision to switch from the double scull he had rowed at the last two Olympics to join Beltz, who was in the four which finished fourth at the London Games, and the Tamar duo who were both reserves.

``Tom feels he is a better sweeper, would like to make a difference to the lightweight four and relishes the prospect of working with Sam again plus Blair and Ali.''

Gibson, 31, finished 13th in the double at Eton Dorney with New South Welshman Rod Chisholm, four years after a 10th place finish following another injury-plagued campaign with Beltz in Beijing.

Crow and fellow TIS coach Anthony Edwards said there were plenty of positives for the Tasmanians in the latest selection stepping stone towards next year's world championships in Amsterdam.

``All our scholarship holders that we took finished in the top end of the group,'' Crow said. 

New Norfolk's triple Olympian Kerry Hore was ranked in the top four of the sculling group, while Huon's Ella Flecker and Georgia Nesbitt were among the top four lightweight women and Adelaide-based Launceston Church Grammar product Annabel Gibson was in the top six.

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