Thursday, 13 December 2018

Leander duo secure honours at Wingfield Sculls

LEANDER athletes recorded a notable double at the Wingfield Sculls, where Jess Leyden and Jamie Kirkwood won

LEANDER athletes recorded a notable double at the Wingfield Sculls, where Jess Leyden and Jamie Kirkwood won the women’s and men’s races over the championship course between Putney and Mortlake.

Leyden won the world U23 title in double sculls in Rotterdam earlier in the season, while Kirkwood is now set to retire from his international career after taking up a coaching post with Oxford University Women’s Boat Club.

Racing in near perfect conditions it was Georgia Francis of Imperial College who led the four-boat field off the start of the women’s race before Leyden drew level. But the Imperial sculler once again drew into the lead before Leyden pulled back at the mile and the two scullers then tussled for the lead, with Imperial’s Pippa Whitaker having her own private battle for third with Amelia Carlton of Tideway Scullers.

Francis’s four-second lead at the mile was reversed to a five-second margin for Leyden at Hammersmith and the former junior world champion then moved away to cross the line 13 seconds clear of her nearest rival.

An hour later Leander heavyweights Nick Middleton and Frazier Christie battled with slightly rougher conditions, as lightweights Jamie Kirkwood of Leander and Tim Richards of Imperial made the best of the choppier water.

Richards took the early lead, with Middleton and Kirkwood in hot pursuit, but as the scullers came into a headwind passing Craven Cottage Kirkwood drew ahead and cut sharply across to Surrey. The tight bunch of scullers passed the Mile Post with just three seconds separating the leaders, but Middleton’s blade clipped Richards’s and disaster struck as Middleton promptly capsized, allowing Kirkwood to slip away unchallenged.

While the Leander lightweight extended his lead there was still a close race for second between Richards, Christie and Dan Boddington of Griffen.

In keeping with the tradition of the race, Leyden and Kirkwood were presented with their trophies by former winners of the race. The women’s trophy was presented by three-times winner Greg Searle, who had also acted as race umpire for the day, while Kirkwood was presented with his trophy by 1976 champion Graeme Mulcahy.

Leander Olympians John Collins and Jonny Walton were back in action last weekend for the first time since they had contested the Olympic final in double sculls in Rio.

At the pairs head in London the two men won the overall title by 19 seconds ahead of Murray Wilkojc and Nick Marriott from Tideway Scullers’ School in second place.

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