Early start for A-finals in Bled
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What a day for Great Britain. The first Rowing World Cup at Bled, Slovenia saw a British windfall. Great Britain finished with medals in 10 of the 14 Olympic events, six of them gold. These golds included Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins earning two of them in the women’s double and quad. The men’s and women’s eights also took gold with two men’s double crews taking gold and silver. The men’s four also scored gold.
WOMEN’S PAIR (W2-) – Final
After the heats and semis, this was shaping up to be a showdown between the United States and Canada. Susan Francia and Erin Cafaro of the United States are the reigning World Champions, but new pairs combination, Krista Guloien and Ashley Brzozowicz of Canada have been recording some dominating speeds here on Lake Bled.
Right from the start Guloien and Brzozowicz showed that they meant business, but Francia and Cafaro were ready and held on tightly to the Canadians. Guloien and Brzozowicz are both 2008 Olympians from different boats and last year they rowed together in their country’s eight. Moving through the middle of the race the Canadians managed to inch away from the Americans. Then coming past the St Martin Island church, China’s twin sisters, Meng and Tong Li charged. Meng and Tong, 21, have been rowing together internationally since 2005 swapping between the pair, eight and four.
Canada lifted their rating to 41 while the Lis went to 47, the 49 barely making ¾ slide. The Americans could not find another gear showing desperation at a 37 stroke rate. Canada held on for first, China takes second and the United States had to settle for a photo finish third with the Chinese.
Results: CAN, CHN, USA1, GER, GBR1, GBR2
Ashley Brzozowicz (CAN) – Gold
Krista Guloien (CAN) - Gold
Li Meng (CHN1) – Silver
Erin Cafaro (USA) - Bronze
First and second from 2009, New Zealanders Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, and the British Andrew Triggs Hodge and Peter Reed, met yesterday in the semi-finals. Bond and Murray won easily. Were the British foxing? Today would reveal all. At the start it was Greek 2009 bronze medallists Nikolaos and Apostolos Gkountoulas who jumped out to take the lead. The Gkountoulas twins have been struggling to be the number one pair in Greece after Ioannis Tsilis and Georgios Tziallas beat them at the Wedau Regatta a couple of weeks ago. Both Greek crews were racing in this final.
The Gkountoulas lead did not last long. Bond and Murray, rating a steady 36, pushed into the lead with Reed and Triggs Hodge following closely behind. The New Zealanders are becoming well known for their incredibly consistent middle 1000m and today they did that holding a 36 to 37 stroke rate. The British looked to be doing the same, but found themselves slipping back a little on Bond and Murray. Coming into the finish Reed and Triggs Hodge executed a big push upping their rating to 40, then 42. Bond and Murray answered with 39. Could the New Zealanders hold on to the line? Bond and Murray crossed the line in first, Reed and Triggs Hodge in second, and the happiest crew of the race, Nikolaos and Apostolos in third look like they are back on top for Greece. The 2009 World Rowing Championship finishing top three remains the same.
Results: NZL, GBR, GRE2, GRE1, GER, USA
Eric Murray (NZL) – Gold
Hamish Bond (NZL) – Gold
Andrew Triggs Hodge (GBR1) – Silver
Nikolaos Gkountoulas (GRE) - Bronze
Apostolos Gkountoulas (GRE) - Bronze
WOMEN’S DOUBLE SCULLS (W2x) – Final
All eyes were on the British double as sitting in the bow was the country’s most medalled female rower, Katherine Grainger. Grainger is a three-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medallist. Last year she raced in the single but has returned to team boats for 2010. With partner Olympic medallist Anna Watkins, the British jumped out at the start and took out a whole boat length lead by the first 500m mark.
By the middle of the race, Grainger and Watkins had a huge five second lead over the United States, China and the Czech Republic who were neck and neck and fighting with every stroke. The Antosova sisters from the Czech Republic then found the speed too great and dropped back. China’s Liang Tian and Yangyang Zhang remained head to head with Stesha Carle and Kathleen Bertko of the United States.
In the final sprint Zhang and Tian broke out into huge sprint. The Americans could not match it and the British were only just able to hold them off. Grainger earns another gold in her career, China takes second and the United States new combination win bronze.
Results: GBR, CHN1, USA, CZE, CHN2, FRA1
Stesha CARLE (USA) - Bronze
MEN’S DOUBLE SCULLS (M2x) – Final
After British crews won both of the semifinals yesterday, the large British crowd had high hopes for this final. Great Britain’s number one crew, Matthew Wells and Marcus Bateman were the fastest out of the starters blocks at the town end of Lake Bled with last year’s bronze medallists, Allar Raja and Kaspar Taimsoo of Estonia following in second. By the half-way point Wells and Bateman remained in the lead, but only slightly with Estonia, Switzerland, Great Britain 2 and the Norway combination featuring Slovenia’s most medalled rower, Iztok Cop and Norway’s most medalled rower Olaf Tufte, all within two seconds of Bateman and Wells.
This incredibly tight racing remained into the final 500m of the race. Stroke rates increased across the field, only Italy remained out of contention for the gold medal. As the finish line audience rose to their feet and British flags waved wildly everyone waited for the finishing order to be announced. Wells and Bateman had won, Great Britain 2 (William Lucas and Sam Townsend) scored second and Raja and Taimsoo come through in third.
Waiting for Wells, Bateman, Lucas and Townsend at the dock was Great Britain’s chief coach Juergen Grobler. The usually stoic Grobler was all smiles. This is the first time Great Britain has gone one-two at a World Cup.
Iztok Cop, crossing the line in fourth got a huge cheer from the crowd as he met waiting camera crews. Cop had announced that this race would be the final one of a long and illustrious career.
Results: GBR1, GBR2, EST1, NOR, SUI, ITA1
Matthew Wells (GBR1) – Gold
Kaspar Taimsoo (EST 1) - Bronze
MEN’S FOUR (M4-) – Final
Great Britain regularly start their season off at full steam and today’s results look to be shaping up the same way as another British crew raced to a podium finish. Matthew Langridge, Alex Gregory, Richard Egington and Alex Partridge are the reigning World Champions and after their wins in the heats and semifinals over the last two days, the British were definite favourites coming into this final.
It has been noted that British crews like fast starts and today was no exception with their four jumping out into the lead at the start. Serbia and the Czech Republic were the only crews that looked to be able to hold the British pace. By the half-way point the Czechs, who finished fourth last year, had dropped back with Serbia being the main challengers to Great Britain and Canada moving up to third.
In the sprint to the finish Great Britain remained steady, not having to pull out any big finishing piece with Serbia, giving it their all until the line. The Canadians remained steady in third. The finishing order: Great Britain, Serbia and Canada
Results: GBR, SRB, CAN, ITA, CZE, POL
Richard Egington (GBR) – Gold
“We raced as we thought we would, but a few weeks ago we did not even know if we’d be here. One of the guys had a problem with his spine and I have been ill, so it was touch and go. We have had some good training out here and when we get back to the UK it will be more of the same.”
Rob GIBSON (CAN) - Bronze
“We didn’t expect a good result like this one and we’re very happy with our third place. We began to row together just three weeks ago, we’re a young crew. We improved here wery well race by race. During the final, we’ve tried to be concentrated on our race but at the middle of the race, we understood that it was possible to get a medal and we pushed for it. Britain is a very big crew but nothing is impossible for the future.”
LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN’S DOUBLE SCULLS (LW2x) – Final
The US combination of Abelyn Broughton and Ursula Grobler may have only been together less than a month, but they are making waves on the lightweight scene. Broughton and Grobler showed their potential through the heats and semis over the last two days and today in the final they, again, held it all together.
Leading from the start the Americans had built up a full boat length lead by the half-way point using a steady 33 stroke rate. Only last year’s bronze medallists, Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking of Great Britain were even a little bit close. Broughton and Grobler remained nicely in front and set their chances of being the US combination for this year’s World Rowing Championships firmly in place. Goodsell and Hosking finished over five seconds back in second and half of last year’s World Champion combination, Greece finished third.
Results: USA, GBR1, GRE, NED, GBR2, IRL1
Ursula Grobler (USA) – Gold
“We had a great race, you always have to react to what’s going on around you, but we stayed on top of it. We have only been in this combination for three weeks, since the national trials. We are hoping that we will stay together for the whole season, but New Zealand is a long way away. The coach has methods for making sure we are the fastest combination.”
LIGHTWEIGHT MEN’S DOUBLE SCULLS (LM2x) – Final
Is this the year of the Canadian double? Douglas Vandor and Cameron Sylvester have been together since the 2008 Olympics, but illness going into the Olympic final put the duo into last in the B Final. They are back and aiming for London 2012 with a new vigour. Today the Canadian duo took off at the start with this vigour leaving the rest of the field to fight it out for second.
An internal selection fight was going on between Italy2 (Elia Luini and Lorenzo Bertini) and Italy1 (Marcello Miani and Francesco Rigon). Miani and Rigon had so far beaten Luini and Bertini in internal races and at the Wedau Regatta. Who would do it today? In amongst the Italian fracas was France. Jeremie Azou and Remi Di Girolamo had hunkered down and slotted into the Italian race swapping between second and third.
Coming into the final sprint Canada remained easily in front rowing their black double that featured riggers attached from behind. Bertini and Luini gave it all they could rating 37 and France and Italy1 held on. Bertini and Luini couldn’t hide their joy at the finish. Canada looked satisfied. Meanwhile an unlucky Serbia had to stop rowing after hitting a log.
Results: CAN, ITA2, FRA, ITA1, POR, SRB
Cameron Sylvester (CAN) – Gold
“We hope that this will be the combination for New Zealand. We respect all our competitors, but we are looking forward to testing our speed against the New Zealanders and Purchase and Hunter (GBR) when they get back in the double.”
Lorenzo Bertini (ITA2) – Silver
“You could say that we are the first Italian boat now, but that is for the Italian federation to decide, we’re the oldies of the group now, nearly 30! We are a very experienced crew and we have done lots of racing in Italy this season.”
Remi di Girolamo (FRA) - Bronze
“It was our first race together since our sixth place in Luzern in 2008 and our first podium together. We think we would have had the possibility to beat the Italians, but we were not in a good position for that in the first part of the race. With a better start, maybe we could have had a better result.”
LIGHTWEIGHT MEN’S FOUR (LM4-) – Final
Coming into this final Great Britain looked to be the crew to beat having beaten World Champions Germany and 2009 silver medallists Denmark over the previous two days of racing. But as previous finals today have shown, anything can happen in the final.
In one of the closest races of the day six boats took off out of the starting blocks together and remained in a virtual line over the first 500m of the race. This situation continued with only the Netherlands slipping back albeit, slightly. During this time Great Britain was shifting between the middle and rear of the field, but a big push at the 1200m mark helped accelerate the Brits into a very small leading position with Denmark in second.
With the entire field remaining, all six overlapping crews started to sprint for the line. Denmark looked absolutely determined and raised their rate to 44. Great Britain matched them topping out at 45. Italy and Switzerland gave it all that they could. At the line Denmark and Italy were the happiest crews.
Results: DEN, GBR, ITA, SUI, NED, GER
Morten Joergensen (DEN1) – Gold
“We did not necessarily think we would win today. We know that we are good sprinters, so are able to take ½ - one length out of a crew with 500m to go. We have some changes that we know we need to make before our next race.”
Richard Chambers (GBR) - Silver
“We’re a little disappointed, but it’s just the beginning of the season and we can improve ourselves for the next races. I couldn’t say that the Danish were too strong, but they made a better race. I’ve no special explanation for that.”
Martino Goretti (ITA) - Bronze
“We are not surprised with our place because we know we are quick. There aren’t any crews faster than us in Italy at the moment, so hopefully we will be able to go to the World Rowing Championships.”
WOMEN’S QUADRUPLE SCULLS (W4x) – Final
Coming back on the water for the second time this morning, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins settled into stroke and three seat of the British quad along with Beth Rodford and Annie Vernon. Had their earlier win in the double sapped their energy?
Both Ukraine and Great Britain bolted out of the start together. On Lake Bled the start line is at the town end of the lake and a crowd of locals had gathered as well as rowing supporters. By the middle of the race Great Britain had inched into a slight lead over Ukraine using a steady 34 stroke rate. Both Ukraine and the British kept the pressure on through the third 500m as the sounds of the finish line crowd rose. Great Britain looked in control, Ukraine were in a panic, Switzerland pulled through into third and crossed the line very happy. Grainger and Watkins win their second gold medal this morning.
Results: GBR, UKR, SUI, CHN, NED, ITA
Katherine Grainger (GBR) – Gold
“We didn’t have much time to relax between races, but the whole team were really helpful in getting us back on the water. I decided not to race the single this year as it’s crew boats that I am used to and really love. Both races were fantastic, I’m delighted with the results.”
Regina Naunheim (SUI) - Bronze
“We knew we were about the same speed as the Chinese crew and that our race profiles were similar. Being in front at 1500m, we pulled a strong finish to hold the Chinese boat off and we did it! We are so happy because we came here not knowing if we would make the final.”
MEN’S QUADRUPLE SCULLS (M4x) – Final
This race received the most support from the crowd as two very popular crews were racing. Slovenia, featuring Luka Spik, sat in lane six, and under-23 World Champions Croatia were in lane three. A huge Croatian contingent had crossed the border to come and watch this crew who have already stated a year ago that they fully intend to medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
At the start it was Italy, featuring 2000 Olympic Champions Simone Raineri and Alessio Sartori, who were in the lead with Slovenia right on top of them. Italy continued to charge on as Slovenia started to suffer from their fast start. Through the middle of the race Croatia began to come into their own. But the big question, where were the World and Olympic Champions, Poland? The Poles had been beaten by Croatia in yesterday’s semi-final and they must have known today’s race would be hard.
Croatia, to the cheers of the crowd, remained in first and stayed consistent coming to the line. Italy held on to second and today Poland had to contend with third. Slovenia, just before the line caught a boat-stopping crab, but the crowd still cheered them to the finish.
Results: CRO, ITA, POL, RUS, UKR, SLO
Martin Sinkovic (CRO) – Gold
“We expected to medal but are delighted that we won. We have been coming here for five or six years, so this is home ground to us. We had lots of supporters and friends here, we just heard noise as we came into the last 500m – to win here is just amazing. ”
Matteo Steffanini (ITA) – Silver
“We’re pleased to have got a medal. We have no idea if this is the crew that is going to New Zealand, we have only been together for two weeks. We will only know about 15 days beforehand.”
Adam Korol (POL) - Bronze
“The Croatians were very impressive. They’re a very good crew. They have a very good technique, they were powerful, they were amazing. For us, it’s not a good period, because of hard training. I hope we’ll have a better result in Lucerne [2010 Rowing World Cup III].”
Marek Kolbowicz (POL) - Bronze
“It’s not a shame to finish third because Croatia and Italy are very good teams. It’s just the first competition of the year and we hoped just to be ranked in the first three here.”
WOMEN’S EIGHT (W8+) – Final
Great Britain did not take part in yesterday’s race for lanes as a number of their crew were also entered in the women’s pair. This meant that today they were a relative unknown quantity to the rest of the field. The British soon made themselves known. Coxed by Caroline O’Connor with Alison Knowles in stroke seat, the crew shot out to an early lead. The stroke four had already raced in the pair final at the start of today’s racing and although they didn’t medal they must have been fired up for this race.
Going with the Brits was the Dutch crew led by Femke Dekker in stroke. These two crews remained on top of each other through the middle of the race, both trying to break away with Great Britain commanding a slight edge.
Results: GBR, NED, CHN, RUS, POL
Victoria Thornley (GBR) – Gold
“Although I did the U23 Championships last year, this is my first senior event. I have only been rowing for two and a half years. I know I am going to have to fight hard to keep my seat. I learn something each time I row.”
Louisa Reeve (GBR) - Gold
“The race in the eight was so much shorter than in the pair! We had a really long one yesterday, over eight minutes. The World Cups do have a different feeling to the World Championships, and it’s a good opportunity to get some race practice in, especially as women’s eights often do not have too much competition. Also, the Romanians have managed to win in the pair and the eight at the Olympics, so it must be possible.”
Kirsten Wielaard (NED) – Silver
“We hoped to finish in the first three. It was our goal before starting. It’s good to launch our season. But I think we could improve our strength and ranking during the next competitions. I don’t know if it was possible to win today. We tried to have a strong start and then to attack during the whole race. Five of us were in the eight last year.”
Xu Miao (CHN) – Bronze
“We are satisfied with the result, even though we did not win the gold. It’s not certain that this will be the exact crew that goes to New Zealand, but we shall see. This plan is as beautiful as a flower.”
WOMEN’S SINGLE SCULLS (W1x) – Final
A couple of new names sat in this final. China’s Bin Tang had worked through the semis to earn a spot and Isolda Penney of Canada was also a new face. Penney at 35 years old is a late starter in rowing and this is her first international competition. She decided to surprise everyone at the start and bolted out to take the lead with 250m rowed. The more experienced Ekaterina Karsten-Khodotovitch of Belarus looked satisfied to bide her time while New Zealand’s Emma Twigg took chase.
With one quarter of the race rowed, former under-23 champion Twigg had found the lead just as the rain began to fall. World Champion Karsten, using a very steady 28 stroke rate slotted in next to Twigg and these two scullers moved away from the field with Twigg on a 30 stroke rate. Meanwhile Tang and Russia’s Julia Levina were holding their own battle in lanes one and two.
As the scullers passed the St. Martin Island church, Karsten took her rating up a couple of notches and slowly and smoothly moved up on Twigg and passed her to get in front. Twigg raised her stroke rate but could not match Karsten’s power. Karsten adds World Cup gold to her already hefty collection, Twigg takes silver and Tang comes through to bronze.
Results: BLR, NZL, CHN, RUS1, SWE, CAN
“I wasn’t very happy with my start, and I do not like how much closer the girls are getting! My training has changed somewhat with the World Rowing Championships being so late.”
Emma TWIGG (NZL) - Silver
“It’s a good first race to launch the season. I’ve tried to be in front of the race but Karsten was strong. I think it’s possible to beat her but it’s necessary to train harder and harder. We’ll stay with the national team in Bled for the next weeks to train and in Europe until Lucerne [Rowing World Cup III]. Then, back to home but we’ll train in Penrith (Australia) before the World Rowing Championships.”
Bin Tang (CHN) - Bronze
"I am quite pleased with my race today. The conditions were quite difficult. This is a beautiful location, very clean, the people are really friendly.”
MEN’S SINGLE SCULLS (M1x) – Final
Alan Campbell (GBR) and Ondrej Synek (CZE) finished second and third respectively at last year’s World Rowing Championships and they met again yesterday for the first time since 2009 in the semifinals. Campbell won relatively easily but Campbell’s coach Bill Barry admitted that Synek was ‘wily’ and anything could happen in the final.
Also in this final was Germany’s Marcel Hacker who had shown very good speed through the heats and semifinals. At the start Synek and Campbell took off together going through the first 500m virtually on top of each other. Then France’s top sculler Julien Bahain, who is normally seen in a team boat, attacked. With Synek in front Bahain reached the half-way point in second and continued to maintain his boat speed.
Sitting in third Campbell did a big push at the 1300m mark and moved ahead of Bahain with Synek now easily in front. Hacker then pushed attempting to move up from his fourth place spot. It was all on in the final sprint. Campbell unleashed his fury, out-rating the rest of the field. Synek retained control in the front and Hacker charged. Synek earned his first international gold since 2008, Campbell got silver and Hacker showed that he still had single sculling speed by taking bronze. Bahain, in fourth, got a huge cheer from the French supporters and looked very content.
Results: CZE, GBR1, GER, FRA1, SWE, GRE
Ondrej Synek (CZE) – Gold
“I am really happy. This is my first race of the season so I am really pleased that I am fast. Who knows what will happen during the season. Mahe [Drysdale, NZL] is always strong, but I hope to be a World Champion this year.”
Alan Campbell (GBR) – Silver
“Training has been adjusted this year to account for the fact that the New Zealand World Rowing Championships are late. We are training all the way through the World Cups so I am looking forward to going and doing some speed work. The plan is to be at peak performance once at the World Championships. I’ve got a lot to work on, but I’m looking forward to it – Watch out Mahe!”
Marcel HACKER (GER) - Bronze
“I’ve lost 5 kilos and I feel it. I felt very comfortable during this regatta and it’s good to begin [the season] with a result like this one. I’m back at a champ level! I started slowly. My coach told me to concentrate on my style, on my race. During the final sprint, I saw the French and I pushed strongly on my legs to beat him. I don’t know if I’ll continue in a single scull until the end of the season. My coach will decide and it will be the good decision.”
MEN’S EIGHT (M8+) – Final
The Netherlands had won their heat two days ago, Great Britain had won the other. They met today in the final. Great Britain had one change to Friday’s crew. An ill Tom Wilkinson was substituted by Peter Reed. Reed had won silver in the pair earlier today and there’s no doubt he would have had a gold taste in his mouth. The British also contained comeback kid, Greg Searle sitting behind Reed in six seat.
The Netherlands jumped off the line in first following stroke man and four-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medallist, Diederik Simon. China picked up on the Dutch pace with Great Britain back in fifth. Going through the middle of the race the Netherlands remained in first. Had the Dutch gone out too fast, too hard? Coming into the third 500m the British began to move first overtaking Poland and then creeping up on the Chinese.
It was all on in the final sprint. Great Britain raised their stroke rate to 41, the Netherlands were holding on with grim determination, the Poles were moving. At the line Great Britain threw their hands in the air, the Dutch looked exhausted and Poland in third appeared disappointed.
Results: GBR, NED, POL, CHN, UKR, ITA
James Clarke (GBR) – Gold
“We knew our race plan and stuck to it. We won’t necessarily be in this combination when it comes to the World Rowing Championships. As the lowest boat in the squad it changes a lot because of illness and injury.”
Peter Wiersum (NED) - Silver
“We have many young rowers in this boat and they did a very good job. Since last year, we made five changes in our boat. Two are in our national pair and the others are now studying in the States. The Brits had an incredible finish! We knew that because they made the same kind of race Friday during the heats. We were a long time at the front of the race today but they were too close, and it was impossible to resist their finish. But we’re happy with our result here. There are many new crews and we have no idea of their and our possibilities before the race. ”
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