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Masters rowers take gold at world competition in Italy

By JEFF HOYT Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Contributor
August 21, 2013 · 4:45 PM
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From left, Canadian Julian Payne, islander Jim O’Brien, islander Steve Haworth and Canadian Larry Chung teamed up to win the 60 to 64 men’s quad at the world rowing championships this month in Italy. / Courtesy Photo

Vashon islanders Jim O’Brien and Steve Haworth had a fruitful world rowing championship regatta at the quadrennial World Masters Games near Turin, Italy, Aug. 7 through 11. Led by O’Brien’s one gold and two silver medals at the games, the two teamed up with Canadians Julian Payne and Larry Chung to take the world title in the 60 to 64 men’s quad (four rowers and eight oars).

O’Brien’s other world gold came in the 65- to 69-year-old men’s eight, with fellow Americans from the Kent Mitchell Rowing Club. O’Brien also got silver in the 60 to 64 eight, again with Kent Mitchell RC, and in the 55 to 59 pair with Canadian partner Ilhan Akgul.

O’Brien, Haworth and their Canadian boatmates advanced to the finals in the quad after narrowly winning their 1,000-meter heat in 3 minutes and 31 seconds.

In a tightly contested final, the Vashon-Canada composite boat moved on their two top Australian competitors with a strong push at about 500 meters. Another burst at 250 meters powered them to a tight half-length win in 3 minutes and 25 seconds.

The quadrennial World Masters Games pit top masters athletes (older than 27) from 80 countries in world championship competition in 20 sports. Anyone can enter the tournament, and in rowing, ages of rowers in a boat are averaged for placement. The 2017 games will be in Auckland, New Zealand.

Haworth called winning gold at the world games “the most satisfying athletic experience of my life.”

“O’Brien is an incredible athlete who simply willed us past those huge Aussies,” he said.

— Jeff Hoyt is a member of the Vashon Island Rowing Club.

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