China dominates at Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta
China won big at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Gavirate, Italy qualifying four out of four crews. This tally accounts for half of the eight Paralympic births up for grabs at this event which saw the top two in each of the four boat classes earning a place at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
China’s dominant performance came as no surprise as the nation is hoping to build on the results from the London 2012 Paralympic Games where Chinese crews captured gold in both the AS men's single sculls (Cheng Huang) and the AT mixed double sculls (Xiaoxian Lou and Tianming Fei).
AS men's single sculls (ASM1x)
Huang, who finished 13th at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in the ASM1x, demonstrated that he was the one to beat at this weekend’s event. Winning the second heat in 5:05.45, 6.06 seconds ahead of South Korea’s Jun-ha Park, Huang maintained a similar margin in the A -final, which he won in 4:55.91.
Park, who had placed 5th at the London 2012 Paralympics will also have the chance to race in the Rio Games after his 2nd place result in the final. 2012 Paralympian Johannes Schmidt of Germany finished in third.
AS women's single sculls (ASW1x)
China’s Lili Wang narrowly defeated Sejeong Kim of South Korea with finishing times of 5:50.06 and 5:50.66 respectively in the A-final. Kim had shown more speed earlier in the regatta, winning their heat and forcing Wang into the repechage after which both scullers won their respective semi-finals to meet again in the A-final. Having qualified for the Paralympic Games with their performances, these two rivals will meet again in Rio.
TA mixed double sculls (TAMix2x)
Fei of China will be heading to another Paralympics after his victory with new partner Shuang Liu. The duo left no doubt about their intentions and advanced as favourite to win the A-final after posting the fastest time in the heats (4:14.90).
The Russian crew of Vasily Feoktistov and Svetlana Nuzhdina also qualified for Rio, finishing second to China in both their heat and the A-final where they crossed the line 7.89 seconds behind the winning time of 4:11.70. Rio 2016 will be the first Paralympic appearance for both Feoktistov and Nuzhidina, who have been racing this event since 2013.
LTA mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+)
China’s fourth qualifying crew came when Qian Wang, Hui Zhao, Yunlong Wu, Xuebin Feng, and coxswain Li Yu placed second in an incredibly close finish only 0.54 seconds behind first place Australia. The Aussi crew of Brock ingram, Jeremy McGrath, Davinia Lefroy, Kathleen Murdoch and coxswain Josephine Burnand posted a winning time of 3:26.46. Brazil had shown potential by winning their heat earlier in the regatta, but finish fourth in the A-final behind Australia, China, and Israel.
There are places for 96 rowers (48 male and 48 female) at the Paralympic Games in Rio this September. Coxswains for each of the crews in the LTA mixed coxed four can be of either gender and are do not count towards this total.
The qualification process includes four possible routes to securing a birth at the Games. Sixty-four of those 96 places were allocated to the top eight finishing crews in each event at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France. Sixteen more seats have now been determined at this Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta.
Four places are reserved for the host nation, but these will be reassigned since Brazil has already qualified at least one male and one female. Allocation of the remaining 12 places (plus any unused host allotments) will be determined by a Bipartite Commission of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Rowing Federation (FISA).
The depth of talent in the para-rowing field has grown significantly since its first inclusion in the Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008. After the success of the London 2012 Games, World’s Best Times have continually been broken and the standard of competition continues to rise steeply.