The race, however, that overshadowed all others was the men’s double sculls which featured Slovenia’s best medal hopes, local heroes Iztok Cop and Luka Spik. Cop and Spik may not have achieved the result they wanted but they ended up being part of one of the closest finishes of the day.

Tom Aggar of Great Britain winning the Final A of the AS Men's Single Sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
AS Men’s Single Sculls (ASM1x) – Final

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The question is not, will Tom Aggar of Great Britain win? The question now is, will Aggar break his own World Best Time? The very powerful upper body of Tom Aggar. Aggar was a rugby player before an accident left him without the use of his legs. This did not stop Aggar from continuing to be sporty and he chose rowing after using the indoor rowing machine as part of his rehabilitation. Aggar is now a full time athlete and is aiming for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Today Aggar, using a 33 stroke rate, got into the lead at the start and kept the pressure on. Russia’s Alexey Chuvashev pushed hard and kept an overlap with Aggar. But Aggar pushed on, doing just enough to hold off Chuvashev. Australia’s newcomer, Erik Horrie held on to third and the order remained the same to the line. This is great success for Horrie who only began rowing 12 months ago when discovered by his local rowing club. It is likely that we will see more of Horrie in the future.

Results: GBR, RUS, AUS, USA, KOR, ESP

Tom Aggar (GBR) -- Gold
“I’m really, really pleased with this one”

Alexey Chuvashev (RUS) – Silver
“I am Happy.”

Erik Horrie (AUS) – Bronze
“I’m ecstatic. Just being here at my first World Championships is awesome. And then making the final and on top of it winning a medal in a field of just high-ranked rowers, I’m just amazed.”

B-final

Jie Yang of China is in his second year of rowing and his first year of international competition. He came here with the goal of qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games and today he did just that by winning the b-final of the single. Yang led from start to finish over New Zealand’s Daniel McBride who was slotted firmly in  second. McBride, 2010 bronze medallist, came to Bled as one of the favourites, but illness prior to this regatta set his training back. Today McBride held on to second and his eighth place finish overall earns New Zealand a qualifying spot at the London Paralympics.

Results: CHN, NZL, BRA, FRA, BLR, GER

Vincenzo Capelli, Pierpaolo Frattini and Niccolo Fanchi posing with their gold medal in the Men's Coxed Pair for Italy at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Men’s Coxed Pair (M2+) – Final

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At the 2011 World Rowing Championships Australia took gold. But earlier this season Italy finished easily ahead of the new Australian crew. Today Australia’s William Lockwood and James Chapman with coxswain David Webster wanted revenge. Australia went out to an incredibly aggressive starting pace leaving Italy’s Vincenzo Capelli, Pierpaolo Frattini and coxswain Niccolo Fanchi back in fourth. Could the Australian’s keep it up?

Coming into the final sprint Australia still had the lead with Italy now up in second. In the sprint to the line Australia started to run out of steam. Fanchi took advantage of the situation and got his crew to sprint. But the real sprint was happening in the Canadian boat. Olympic Champion coxswain Brian Price of Canada was making Kevin Light and Steven Vanknotsenburg charge. The Canadian’s had been sitting back in the bunch for the body of the race and they had just overtaken Croatia to go after Germany. All Australia could do was hold on and hope. At the line the Italians celebrated, Australia, in second, looked disappointed, Canada was contented.

Results: ITA, AUS, CAN, GER, CRO, USA

Pierpaolo Frattini (ITA) – Gold
“It was a great battle with the Australians but when our cox told us the final push we knew we could do it and beat them. Bled is a lucky place for the Italian coxed pair.  With a third gold medal in the coxed pair, it has become a tradition for Italy. ”

David Webster (AUS) – Silver
“It’s a bit bittersweet. We came here with the goal to win gold, but you’ve got to be happy with a silver at the World Championships as well. Especially as this was a classy field and the level of the competition was great having moved from four entries last year to eight this year.”

William Lockwood (AUS) – Silver
“We had a really good first 1500m and managed to open up a lead we thought would be big enough to win. But in the end on the last 250m we didn’t have enough energy left. We would have liked to win the gold medal.”

Brian Price (CAN) – Bronze
“It is my fourth bronze medal in the races that I cox, in that perspective this medal is no surprise”

Steven Vanknotsenburg (CAN) - Bronze
“It is hard to have 2 races in 2 days, we tried not to get too excited, slowly move through the field and make the final push around 300m before the finish.”

B-final

A two boat head-to-head race had France (Benoit Demey, William Chopy and coxswain Anthony Benoit) dominating Ukraine for the entire 2000m France did not have to push it to cross the line easily in first and seventh overall at this regatta.

Results: FRA, UKR

Fabiana Beltrame of Brazil posing with her gold medal in the Women's Lightweight Single Sculls on the podium with her daughter at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Final

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 History was made today on the waters of Lake Bled. Brazil got their first ever World Champion title and it was done by a small, lightweight woman; Fabiana Beltrame. Beltrame was not the fastest coming through from the semifinals, but she knew exactly what she wanted today. So who is Fabiana Beltrame? She is a 29 year old mother of one who started rowing in her home town of Florianopolis 14 years ago. She hit the international scene in 2002 and since then has raced two Olympic in the open single. Now Beltrame has her goals set firmly on the 2016 Olympics in her home country.  

Today Beltrame got out at the start and by the half way point she had gained a very handy open water lead. Relishing in her lead Beltrame continued to move away from the field looking absolutely unstoppable. What a way to win! Switzerland’s Pamela Weisshaupt was the only sculler that attempted to challenge Beltrame. Former World Champion, Weisshaupt tried her best but there was too much water to make up. Weisshaupt added a silver to her collection with Lena Mueller of Germany picking up bronze. Fastest qualifier, Katherine Copeland of Great Britain was nowhere to be seen. She had run out of steam.

Results: BRA, SUI, GER, USA, GBR, CAN

Fabiana Beltrame (BRA) – Gold
“I went out very aggressively in the first 1000 metres. I decided this morning that I wanted to be the first Brazilian World Champion, and I made it! I was surprised by the big gap. My results in the semi’s were not so special that I expected this. My daughter, who is here as well, turned 2 yesterday, so this is my birthday present to her. I train in Rio, and hope to be able to compete at the Olympic Games over there in the double. In Athens and Beijing I competed in the heavyweight single sculls to learn, and today it all paid off!!”

Pamela Weisshaupt (SUI) – Silver
“I gave it all for this place. But it was very difficult because Fabiana is very strong. Since tree days I have some stomach and also some flu problems. This second place is the very best I could do.”

Lena Mueller (GER) – Bronze
“I knew if I had a good start, I could win a bronze medal. Everything worked well and today everything fit together, so I’m happy with this medal”

B-final

Poland’s Agnieszka Renc started off aggressively and kept the heat on for the full 2000m race. Renc, 25, rowed in the lightweight double last year where she finished 16th. Now in the single Renc showed her worth by leaving the rest of the field far behind. Coming into the final sprint both Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Hajdu and Marie-Anne Frenken of the Netherlands charged. Hajdu got her stroke rate into the high 40s earning her third. Renc had done just enough early on to hold on the first and Hajdu took second.

Results: POL, HUN, NED, JPN, ALG, HKG

Boats in the Final A of the Men's Lightweight Single Sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Final

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At the Hamburg World Rowing Cup earlier this season Henrik Stephansen of Denmark had sent a message to his competition. He not only won, but won by a huge open water margin. Stephenson did the same today, performing a perfectly timed negative split race that had him at the back of the field at the start and come through to an enormous lead at the finish.

France started out in the lead, but soon lost it as New Zeland’s Duncan Grant who came through to take the lead. But as the rest of the field wore themselves out, Stephansen just got better and better and faster and faster, moving clean away from the entire field. Was Stephansen hoping to better the World Best Time? At the line Stephansen had got within nine seconds of the fastest time and completely annihilated the rest of the field. Italy’s Pietro Ruta pushed through to take second and Grant held on to third.

Results: DEN, ITA, NZL, USA, FRA, GBR

Henrik Stephansen (DEN) – Gold
“I did so much training and that really helped me to push so strongly in the second half of the race."

Pietro Ruta (ITA) – Silver
“It was really a big race, I did strong pushes, and I was almost dead in the last 150m but I could not get to the gold. I beat Duncan though. He is a very strong sculler, but today I was stronger. I had a great training camp in Livigno where I grew a lot especially mentally. It was great to train together with some of our big champions there.”

Duncan Grant (NZL) – Bronze
“I am a little bit disappointed, I was expecting more but Henrik was very strong. He improved a lot this year and when I am back home I know that I have to work on my strength and build it up."

B-final

Jonathan Koch of Germany had the best pedigree of these six rowers. He is a 2008 Olympian and last year took gold in the lightweight quad at the World Rowing Champs. This regatta has not been going so well for Koch and today he raced in the b-final with strong challenges the whole way from Kristoffer Brun of Norway. Brun, 23, raced last year in the lightweight double finishing tenth. This year, in the single, he was holding his own. In a huge sprint to the line which saw his rating up at 40 strokes per minute, Brun broke clean away from Koch to cross way out in front. Koch held on to second over Sau Wah So of Hong Kong.

Results: NOR, GER, HKG, TUR, EGY, SLO

Finish of the Men's Double Sculls with Nathan Cohen (b) and Joseph Sullivan (s) of New Zealand taking gold and Hans Gruhne (b) and Stephan Krueger (s) of Germany taking silver at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Final

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The banks around the start and finish line were chock-full of people. Thousands had turned out to cheer Slovenia’s most medalled two athletes, Iztok Cop and Luka Spik. Despite the Slovenian duo coming out of the start at the back of the field, the crowd was loving watching their heroes on home waters.

Meanwhile, at the head of the field, Germany’s Hans Gruhne and Stephan Krueger were setting the pace with World Champions from New Zealand, Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan and Olympic Champions from Australia, David Crawshay and Scott Brennan sticking Closely to the Germans. Germany, New Zealand and Australia formed a virtual line through the middle of the race with a second battle going on between France, Slovenia and Great Britain.

At the start of this race any of these six boats had a chance of winning; that was the calibre of the field. Now the sprint was on to the line with all six boats still in with a chance. The crowd was going wild. Slovenia was in a bunch with Australia and France. This left New Zealand to take on Germany. Gruhne and Krueger upped their stroke rate from 37 to 42. Cohen and Sullivan went to 40. Then stroke, Sullivan showed his true determination. Their rating went to 48 with Cohen going with him. The race was decided on the final stroke. Cohen and Sullivan had defended their 2010 title by just 6/100th of a second. Gruhne and Krueger came through in second and a very happy Cedric Berrest and Julien Bahain of France got the upper hand of their competition and took the bronze.

Results: NZL, GER, FRA, AUS, SLO, GBR

Joseph Sullivan (NZL) – Gold
“I am really happy to defend the World title, but it was so close. We could do nothing but try to keep up, with this incredibly strong field. We’d rather have been ahead but that was simply not possible. Glad we were just in front of them all when it counted.”

Hans Gruhne (GER) – Silver
“That was a tough race. We knew the New Zealanders would be strong at the finish, but I guess we just responded 10m too late. But even though we are a bit upset about the last stroke, I’m just really thrilled to have won this medal. ”

Stephan Krueger (GER) – Silver
“We have only rowed in this combination since July, so to become second is fantastic. But 6/100 is hard and this was a very tough race. At 1750m I thought we had it, but I’ve got no recollection of the last metres. I’m still really happy though but very, very exhausted. I think I’ll have to lie down and sleep the rest of the day. Next year it will all start again and we’ll try to be amongst the top seven scullers nationally at selections and hopefully we can give it another try in the double then.”

Cedric Berrest (FRA) - Bronze
“This is a very good result. Last year we were not really happy with our medal but this year we are really happy. The Slovenian helped us to come back to the leading boats. The final is our strength and we knew if we could come back, it was possible to get a medal. Congratulations to New Zealand and Germany because they are very strong. For the French team, this is very important because the other results are as expected and it is important to stay in a positive frame of mind.”

B-final

The top five in this race would qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games and sitting in the starting blocks, these crews were very much aware that they did not want to be in last. Canada came out flying with Argentina and Norway following most closely. In the stroke seat for Norway, Nils Jakob Hoff has had a TV crew following him around to make a documentary. Hoff is a performance pianist and harp player and uses the rhythm he knows from music to help him in the boat.

Coming through the half way point Hoff and partner Kjetil Borch, had the lead with Estonia now moving up to challenge the leaders. Only Lithuania and the Czech’s were off the pace. Coming into the final sprint something had gone wrong in the Czech boat. They slowed right down. Estonia’s Allar Raja and Kaspar Taimsoo looked smooth, in control and powerful. They crossed the line in first followed by Norway, Argentina, Lithuania and final Olympic qualifier, Canada.

Results: EST, NOR, ARG, LTU, CAN, CZE

Australian and Italian congratulate each other in the podium of the Lightweight Men's Four at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Final

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If you take World Rowing’s social media responses into account, this event is the most popular. And not surprising. These lightweight men manage to make every race a close fight to the end. Today was no exception. China was the first to show with a slight margin over the other five boats. Then Italy took over going through the middle of the race with less than a minute and a half separating the entire field.

The initial pace now started to show with Australia handling it the best so that with 500m left to row the Australians had found the lead. Australia has managed to bring back together three of their Beijing Olympic four and they have been working with coach Brett Crow on the island of Tasmania. Whatever the Australians have been doing, it must have worked. Coming into the line Skipworth, Cuerton, Beltz and Edwards were doing something rarely seen in lightweight fours racing, moving away from the field. Only Italy seemed to be keeping up with reigning World Champions, Great Britain under attack from Denmark and China.

At the line an extremely happy Australia had won – the first time for their country in this event in 30 years. Italy held on to second and Great Britain had to be satisfied with third.

Results: AUS, ITA, GBR, DEN, CHN, SUI

Anthony Edwards (AUS) – Gold
“I’m absolutely delighted! This has been a long wait, ever since I started rowing internationally. I have won lots of silver medals, but never the World Title. Five strokes to go it got a bit scrappy, but by then we knew we had got it. We were a lot more aware of the field than last year and the crew is also stronger both mentally and physically. And we get to go to the Olympics which is just awesome. I hope I will be in the boat for my fourth Olympics.”

Daniele Danesin (ITA) – Silver
“This was a hard race. The Australians were much too strong for us. But it’s a great day.”

Richard Chambers (GBR) – Bronze
“In this field the fight for the medal is incredible, we are pleased that we have a medal although winning was the thing we wanted. We were consistently in the top three before. But us not winning here is probably best for next year.”

B-final

Phew, heart-stopping stuff! At the end of six minutes of highly charged rowing less than two seconds separated the entire six-lane field.  At the start the German’s had a slight lead with Poland the only boat a little bit down. Germany’s boat of brothers, (the Schoemann-Finck’s and the Kuehner’s) held on to first with the Czech Republic challenging hard.

Coming into the final sprint all six boats remained close. This was going to be a to-the-wire thing. Only South Africa was slightly off the pace. The South Africans must have known this. Stroke seat Tony Paladin took his stroke up, then up again and then went manic. The whole field went manic. Poland crossed the line in first and started to celebrate. Stroke seat, Pawel Randa stood up and swam to shore to greet supporters.

The rest of the field sat, looking at the big screen, waiting for the final results to come up. South Africa had done it. In fifth place they had qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games. Paladin leapt into the warm Lake Bled waters in celebration. In sixth place Serbia had missed out of qualification by just half a second. Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, France and South Africa are off to the Olympics.

Results: POL, CZE, GER, FRA, RSA, SRB

Janine Hanson, Cristy Nurse, Natalie Mastracci, Rachelle Viinberg, Krista Guloien, Ashley Brzozowicz, Darcy Marquardt, Andreanne Morin, Lesley Thampson-Willie of Canada and Jo Cook, Alison Knowles, Lindsey Maguire, Jessica Eddie, Natasha Page, Louisa Reeve, Katie Solesbury, Victoria Thornley,Caroline O'Connor of Great Britain and Esther Lofgren, Zsuzsanna Francia, Meghan Musnicki, Taylor Ritzel, Jamie Redman, Amanda Polk, Caroline Lind, Eleanor Logan, Mary Whipple of the United States of America posing on the podium of the Women's Eight at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Women’s Eight (W8+) – Final

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They may be the four-time reigning World Champions, but at the start the United States was down in fifth place. This is not the first time that the Americans have been down at the start, but this year they needed to be extra careful. The Canadians had been coming along in leaps and strides and they were now in the lead under the guidance of one of the most medalled coxswains ever, Leslie Thompson-Willie.

An American – Canada battle then ensued with the two boats moving away from the field. Behind Canada and the United States, Romania, Great Britain and the Netherlands were having a very tight battle. The bronze medal was going to be decided by the final sprint.

Coming to the line Canada and the United States were still matching each other stroke for stroke with Canada getting their nose in front. There was just 10m of water left and the United States took back the lead to add consecutive World Champion title number five to their treasure chest. Canada came through in second and a very happy Great Britain took bronze.

All of these boats qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games along with Romania in fourth and the Netherlands in fifth. Only China failed to qualify.

Results: USA, CAN, GBR, ROU, NED, CHN

Mary Whipple (USA) – Gold
“We are thrilled and very happy about this medal. The field has grown so much and is becoming more competitive all the time. It took us 2000m to take the gold medal, but we all stuck together and did it. My crew is the best. The training for the Olympics starts tomorrow, well we’ll have a bit of time off before, but will all be back in training to prepare for London on 19 September. But now we’ll enjoy Bled, this beautiful country and watch some races over the next couple of days.”

Darcy Marquardt (CAN) – Silver
“We knew we could be close or even win today.  Our first goal here was to qualify, but everybody here comes to win. The coach told us before: the crew who dares to keep their hands in the fire the longest, is gonna win. We tried hard, but he will make us work hard in the gym this winter!”

Caroline O’Connor (GBR) – Bronze
“We worked hard and we got the bronze. Now we know what we have to train to get gold in London.”

Jessica Eddie (GBR) -- Bronze
“I never went that hard. It’s a great moment to win the bronze medal.”

Alison Knowles (GBR) – Bronze
“Honestly, I wasn’t too worried about the Olympic Qualification. We just took one stroke at a time. And it was especially great when the call came “make it happen, make it our day” and we all pulled together.”

B-final

A two way race between Ukraine and Germany had Ukraine overpowering the Germans to get to the line first. Coming into the finish Ukraine looked much stronger than the Germans and were able to move away just a bit.

Results: UKR, GER

 

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