By Rupert Guinness at the Sydney International Regatta Centre 


The Australian Rowing Championships (ARC) will ramp up steeply on Thursday with a feast of finals featuring on the program, including the Open Women’s and Men’s Single Scull events. 


The racing has so far seen heats, repechages and semi-finals for small boats since Monday’s start. 


Now, it’s time for the first medals and Australian Championship titles to be decided; and up among the hardest of them to win will be the Single Scull crowns for men and women. 


“The single scullers are the gladiators of our sport,” said Rowing Australia Performance Director Paul Thompson on Wednesday. “We’ll be seeing some really tough battles.” 


In the Women’s Single Scull final, all eyes will be on dual World Championship Bronze Medallist Tara Rigney (SUBC) to see if she can add a third Australian title to her resumé. 


Rigney, who will be Australia’s representative in the boat this year, won both her heat and semi-final races comfortably and looks extremely difficult to stop in her pursuit for more titles. 


However, favouritism brings pressure and that will come from the expectation on her. 


“Tara will be looking to keep her dominance up and going; but when you’re in that situation, you’ve always got a target on your back,” Thompson said. “She’s having to deal with that.” 


Joining Rigney in the medal and title race will be Ria Thompson (Uni Qld), Sophie Reinehr (Mercantile), Catherine Khan (ANU), Elizabeth Newell (Uni Qld), Aisyah Rafaee(SUBC), Pham Thi Hue (Team Vietnam) and Nuntinda Krajangjam (Team Thailand). 


The Men’s Single Scull final should see a tighter contest for the Gold and minor medals.  


The major favourites for victory are the two winners of Wednesday’s semi-finals, Marcus Della Marta (SUBC) and Campbell Watts (SUBC). But others will have their eyes on the title. 


One is NSW Champion David Bartholot (SUBC), Della Marta’s partner in the recently Australian Double Scull who placed second behind his crewmate in Wednesday’s semi-final. 


At the recent Australian Rowing Team selection trial, Bartholot was the stand-out sculler. So, he will be looking to show his loss to Della Marta on Wednesday was just an aberration. 


Another is Australian Champion Caleb Antill (ANU-ACT), who placed third behind Della Marta and Bartholot, but no doubt will find added motivation from wanting to defend his title. 

Joining Della Marta, Watts, Bartholot and Antill in the final will be former lightweight rower Hamish Harding (ANU-ACT) who placed second to Watts in Wednesday’s semi-final, Joel Cain (MUBC), James Meads (Banks) and Jackson Free (Griffith University-Surfers Paradise). 


“Dave won at the trials quite well,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of people tracking him down. Marcus is there with Campbell and Caleb. There’s going to be a cracking race.” 


Others finals on Thursday include the: 


• Open Women’s Coxless Pair 


• Open Men’ Coxless Pair 


• Open Lightweight Women’s Single Scull 


• Open Lightweight Men’s Single Scull 


• Open Lightweight Coxless Pair 


• Pr3 Men’s Single Scull 


• Pr3 Women’s Single Scull 


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