Critical Rio Olympic spots in B-final racing
The 2015 World Rowing Championships showed the power of the crowd when more than 7000 people cheered Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino through from the back of the field and into a qualification spot for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Conditions were cool but sunny at Lake Aiguebelette with just a slight tail wind ripple in the water.
Women's Double Sculls (W2x) - B-final
These six b-finalists had one thought on their mind. Don't come last. The top five boats would qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. China and United States had the fastest times of these boats coming through from the semifinals with Belarus also recording a good time. Getting away the quickest was Australia's Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe. This duo own the World Best Time and they took silver at World Rowing Cup III so they must have been disappointed to be racing the B-final. Following Australia was Belarus featuring the great Ekaterina Karsten. The 43-year-old raced here at Aiguebelette at the 1997 World Rowing Championships where she won the women's single.
China then began to push up, overtook Belarus and also Australia. France was off the pace and would have to have an awesome second half to get into an Olympic qualifying spot. The Chinese duo of Weiwei Zhu and Yuwei Whang then really upped the pace and strode home in the lead rating 37. The crowd tried to bring France home. It worked. Rating 37, Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino of France not only overtook the Czechs in fifth place, but overtook nearly the entire field to get into second. The power of the crowd. The Czech Republic had missed out on Olympic qualification.
Results: CHN, FRA, BLR, AUS, USA, CZE
Men's Double Sculls (M2x) - B-final
After a false start caused by Italy, the six boats got away with the aim of being in the top five positions to earn Olympic qualification spots. Italy only just missed out on making the A-final during the heats and they had world silver medallist, Romano Battisti in stroke seat. In bow was 18 year old Giacomo Gentili who already has had a taste of Rio when he won the men's single last month at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Rio.
Italy got away the quickest on the second attempt, but it was oh so close and at the half way point only two seconds separated the entire field. Azerbaijan's Aleksandar Aleksandrov and Boris Yotov had now moved into first. Aleksandrov is a double junior World Champion and he raced at the London Olympics in the men's single. The margins remained close in the final sprint. Azerbaijan won. Norway missed out on Olympic qualification by just over a second.
Results: AZE, GBR, CUB, ITA, BUL, NOR
Lightweight Men's Four (M4-) - B-final
Great Britain medalled at the London Olympic Games and they have also medalled at racing through this season. But their semifinal pushed them into today's B-final. They were the first to show in today's race that had the goal of not coming last. The top five boats would qualify for the Rio Olympics. Then China took over in the lead with a pace of 37 through the body of the race. The United States then pushed into second with Austria the only boat that was off the pace. The British then tried to play catch up on the Chinese and they took their stroke rate to 39. The Chinese had no response to this push with the United States sneaking up on the outside. The Americans were having the sprint of their life. They were rating 40 and grabbed the lead. Once in front they looked unstoppable. Fahden, Nase, King and Daly of the United States won. Austria missed out on Olympic qualification.
Results: USA, CHN, GBR, CZE, CAN, AUT
Men's Single Sculls (M1x) - B-final
A nail-biting semifinal saw Stanislau Shcharbachenia miss out on the A-final by just a fraction of a second. Shcharbachenia has already found the medals podium this season and was looking good for today's race for Olympic qualification spots. The top three boats in this B-final would earn the spots. Three boats would miss out. Sverri Nielson of Denmark had the fastest start. Hannes Obreno of Belgium had the slowest. A piece in the second 500 saw Olympic medallist, Alan Campbell of Great Britain squeeze into the lead. Campbell took bronze at the London Olympics and was out of racing last year due to illness. Sverri gave it his best to hold on to Campbell, but was unable to with Poland's Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk and Shcharbachenia chasing hard.
At the line Shcharbachenia, rating 40, had overtaken Campbell and Wegrzycki-Szymczyk had held on to the third and final Olympic qualification position.
Results: BLR, GBR, POL, ISR, DEN, BEL
Women's Single Sculls (W1x) - B-final
From the semifinals Tatsiana Kukhta of Belarus was very close to making the A-final. She lined up as a potential favourite to finish first in this B-final. But for the entire six boats the goal was to be in a top three position as that would earn a spot in the Rio Olympic Games. London Olympian, Sanita Puspure of Ireland was the first to show and she had the lead at the 500m point over Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. Lobnig in the last couple of years has become a regular finalist, but she became a victim to the increased standards at this regatta.
Puspure, who started her rowing career in Latvia, continued to lead with Lithuania and Belarus now in the qualifying spots. Lina Saltyte of Lithuania remained in second with Kukhta in the perilous position of having to hold off the rest of the field to hold on to the crucial third spot. Then Anna Malina Svennung of Sweden decided that it was now or never. She took her stroke rate to 38 and bit by bit picked off the entire field. Not only had Belarus missed out, but so had Puspure - Kukhta by 0.34 of a second and Puspure by 0.66 of a second.
Results: SWE, LTU, AUT, BLR, IRL, ZIM