Bridesmaids are Masters champs
ALMOST 30 years have passed since Bundaberg school teacher Jacqui Marshall teamed with Melbourne's Pam Westendorf in the women's pairs at the 1981 World Rowing Championships.
The team were best friends, Marshall saying it would have been awkward if they were not the bridesmaids at each other's weddings.
For four years they shared a rowing boat, and with it the agony and ecstasy of the sport.
And 28 years later the pair reunited for Sydney's World Masters Games, taking care of unfinished business.
Marshall is now a proud World Masters gold medallist, storming to the finish line ahead of the field, proving she has still got what it takes after 52 years.
“IT was a real thrill to win this one, the amount of training and preparation we both put in made it pretty special,” Marshall said.
The duo rowed together at Melbourne University from 1981 to 1984, competing in the Munich World Rowing Championships together and also separately in Olympic Games and World Titles.
Training separately until the first heat, the highly technical race was always going to test the long-time friends, but after a scratchy start the pair finished well, and then blitzed the final's field.
“Our start was excellent in the final, just like it was 28 years ago,” the Shalom College teacher said.
While Marshall enjoyed the chance to mix with the 2500 rowing competitors at the games, her primary motivation was securing the gold.
“My jaw muscles are just as sore as any other from catching up with an old friend and making new ones,” she said.
“But absolutely we wanted to win - we'd done the hard yards and overcome injury to be here.”
An elbow injury and knee problems derailed her preparation for more than a month, and at one point Marshall feared she would have to pull the pin.
But a careful regime meant she could rebuild without further injury, allowing her to compete.
The next World Masters, in Italy four years from now, has been tentatively pencilled in to Marshall's diary.
Fellow Bundaberg rowers Ronnie Taylor, Val Hosking, Fran Coleridge and Sue McLellan won their quad heat, but were cruelly denied a shot at the final when the semi was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions.