Tokyo Olympics 2020: NZ women grab world rowing titles in pair, lightweight double

New Zealand has snatched two gold medals at the world rowing championships, with the women's lightweight double and pair finishing atop the podium in Austria.

Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle continued their domination of the lightweight event, coasting to a four-second victory over the Netherlands.

The scullers struck difficult conditions for their title race at Linz. The previous day, McBride and Kiddle broke the meet record and challenged the world mark in their semi-final, clocking 6m 48.49s over 2000m.

In the final, they were almost half-a-minute slower with 7m 15.32s. Behind France over the opening 500m, they took control soon after, as the French faded to fifth.

McBride had previously won two world titles as a lightweight single sculler and combined with Kiddle for sixth at last year's championships.

Meanwhile, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler had to work a little harder to regain the pairs crown they captured two years ago and lost in 2018.

They trailled Australia through the opening 1500m, but finished fast to win by just over two seconds.

"It was a really different race for Grace and I to have," said Gowler. "We were really stoked to hang in there and be able to give it a nudge at the end.

"Going into the race, we knew it would tight the whole way and we had a clear plan for how we were going to approach the whole race. We just trusted we could go a little more in the last 250m.

"I wouldn't say I was feeling good, but I was definitely feeling I could go more."

Prendergast and Gowler were beaten for gold by Canada 12 months ago in Bulgaria. They will now return to the women's eight for their final on Monday morning (NZ time).

"We know we've got the speed to have a really good race," says Gowler. "As long as we execute to the best of our ability, I think we'll be really proud of the result we come away with."

The men's pair of Tom Murray and Michael Brake took second in their event, three seconds behind Croatia, while the women's quad confirmed their spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, finishing fifth in their final.

On the final day of racing, New Zealand will have crews racing for medals in women's double sculls, men's and women's eight, and Emma Twigg in the women's single sculls.

Men's sculler Robbie Manson must finish in the top three of his 'B' final to qualify for the Olympics.