All of the boats racing in Olympic classes of these A Finals had already qualified for the Olympic Games in 2008, with one exception – whoever finished last in the women’s eight. Today the athletes went after World Champion status, and the racing was close, even very close in some events.

In front of a loud and appreciative crowd of 15,000 the 1972 Olympic rowing venue truly came alive. Great Britain responded by making it three World Championhip titles in a row in the women’s quadruple sculls. Poland did the same in the men’s quad. Denmark continued to dominate the lightweight men’s double and Denmark and Germany took the lightweight women’s double to a dead heat. Meanwhile China struggled as two of its 2006 World Champions failed to take medals. Read on to find out.

Men’s coxed four (M4+)

The United States indicated their boat speed during the race for lanes on Wednesday by winning. After a four-day wait they line-up again in the starting blocks to race for medals. Sitting in the boat, Christopher Liwski and Matt Deakin both won a medal last year in the men’s eight. This year they are joined by Dan Beery and Samuel Burns in this International event. The United States took the lead ahead of the Netherlands and Serbia. Serbia included Nikola Stojic and Goran Jagar who raced in the men’s pair final yesterday and qualified that boat for the Olympic Games.

A push through the middle of the race brought the Serbians into the lead. But the lead was small, the United States fought back. Stroke rates rose into the high 30s with the crowd at the finish line seeing the Germans come up. At the line the USA had come through to take gold, Serbia earn silver and Germany win bronze. This race is historic as it is the last year that the event will be raced at the World Rowing Championships.

After the finish United States coxswain Edmund Del Guercio described having to turn his cox box up towards the end of the race as the crowd was so loud.

Matt Deakin (USA) – Gold medallists: “You always hope for gold. We were up against other good crews, we didn’t know what to expect, so we are very pleased with the result.”

Nikola Stojic (SRB) – Silver medallists: “This was our second race together in this line up. I am not totally happy about the second place, but we are satisfied.”(Nicola Stojic)

Stephan Koltzk (GER) – Bronze medallists: “We fought very hard, I’ve rarely had such a hard race before. Today we couldn’t do anymore, so we are happy with the third place.”


Lightweight men’s pair (LM2-)

Australia’s Ross Brown and Michael McBride jumped out at the start using a long catch style. This left 2007 Under 23 Champions from Italy, Andrea Caianiello and Armando Dell’Aquila to slip into second. The Italians looked relaxed despite their youth, 19 and 20 years old respectively, with Caianiello having just started rowing in 2005. Australia remained in the lead going through the third 500 of the race, but both Italy and the Kuehner twins from Germany were putting Brown and McBride’s gold medal chances under threat.

Looking effortless, Caianiello and Dell’Aquila overtook Australia. Germany followed suit. Brown and McBryde looked spent. France charged. The Italians take gold, Germany silver and Australia only just holds on for bronze. At the finish German stroke Martin Kuehner managed to turn round to hug his brother while keeping the boat balanced.

Andrea Caianiello (ITA): “This was a very difficult race, the Australians almost made us die. Then there were still the Germans. On the last 500 we just gave everything. We are very happy as this is our second winning after the U23 this year.” (Andrea Caianiello)

Jochen Kuehner, Martin Kuehner (GER) – Silver medallists: “It’s just the best we ever experienced, the crowd on the grandstand is amazing, they help you so much on the last 200 metres. We are so overwhelmed, we don’t even feel how hard the race actually was.” (GER team)

Michael McBryde (AUS) – Bronze medallists: “Our plan was to race hard from the start and try to win. It didn’t quite work out, and we paid heavily in the last 200 metres. We were pleased to hold on for a medal. The course is beautiful to race on, we cannot complain.”


Lightweight women’s quadruple sculls (LW4x)

China jumped out in the lead in this event that they reign as the World Champions as well as being the World Best Time holders. They have also added to the stroke position Shimin Yan who won gold in the lightweight double. But, surprisingly, China didn’t last long in front. Tara Kelly, stroking for Australia, won silver earlier this season at the under 23 champs, and she was taking her boat through to the lead, disregarding the talent in the Chinese boat. Great Britain also decided to disregard China’s talent and through the third 500 they had moved ahead of the Chinese.

Coming to the line Australia upped the intensity, Great Britain charged, China had no answer. Gold to Australia.

Alice McNamara (AUS) – Gold medallists: “This was only our second race in this season after the heat in the champs, so it was four months working hard for this race. We had an amazing rhythm, it was one of the easiest races I have ever done. Our coach Ellen is just amazing, we owe her so much.”

Laura Greenhalgh (GBR) – Silver medallists: “We’ve always had a strong move at 1250. We had to go to really make a difference.”
“When Sophie called out at the end, I knew we just had to bloody go. I knew our rhythm was carrying us. We tried to attack the Aussies, it was a good race, and this is my first medal since 1999. This boat is a great combination of youth and experience. I’m the grandma.” (Jane Hall)

Shimin Yan (CHN) – Bronze medallists: “We went for gold, unfortunately failed, and maybe should have trained harder.”


Pettinari celebrates the Italian win

Lightweight men’s quadruple sculls (LM4x)

Italy has dominated this event and all the crews know it. This year Leonardo Pettinari, Olympic medallist and World Champion has been added to the Italian line-up along with Daniele Gilardoni, seven-time winner of this event. But at the start of the race it was France in the lead with Great Britain the closest to France’s pace. Italy wasn’t far back and by the half-way point, Italy’s stroke, Daniele Danesin, had brought the boat back into second with a handy overlap with leaders France.

The Italians continued to move looking comfortable at a 34 stroke rate. France tried to hold on but Italy easily moved ahead. At the line bow for Italy Pettinari stands up in triumph. Italy continues to dominate this event.

Leonardo Pettinari (ITA) – Gold medallists: “This was a great race. It went really well. This victory is a confirmation of our hard work together. Finally something to celebrate. ”

Remi Di Girolamo (FRA) – Silver medallists: “We are very happy about the second place. It was a hard race with strong competitors.”

Robert Williams (GBR) – Bronze medallists: “We were confident we could at least get the bronze as we’ve beaten the Germans before, but it was a matter of keeping hold of the French and Italians. We knew everyone would go off hard and we stuck to our race plan. We nearly got the French and it’s good to push the Italians hard. Racing at Worlds level is a lot more intense than racing at non-worlds."


Halliday and Houston finish ahead of the Chinese

Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x)

Opening the Olympic boats on the programme today, the lightweight women’s double was won by China a year ago at the 2007 World Rowing Championships in Eton. Today China tried to do a repeat. But the rest of the crews were not having any of it. At the start Germany’s Marie-Louise Draeger and Berit Carow took the lead by a smidgen over Finland’s Sanna Sten and Minna Nieminen. Germany continued to lead by a fraction through the middle of the race with the Finns managing to hold their position at a reasonably conservative 32 stroke rate. This conservativeness, however, had brought them into the lead with 500m left to race.

Now Australia started to move. Amber Halliday and Marguerite Houston of Australia won silver last year and had been sitting in the middle of the pack waiting for their moment. China, meanwhile, looked like their spirit had been broken with Denmark’s Katrin Olsen and Juliane Rasmussen suddenly coming to life. Four boats charged for the line. Four boats crossed the line practically together. Four crews thought they had won. Waiting for the announcement Australia had taken gold ahead of Finland in second. Germany and Denmark were awarded a dead heat for bronze.

Amber Halliday (AUS) – Gold medallists: “Great. We didn’t know we had won when we crossed the finish line, only when we saw it on the board. It was brilliant.”

Sanna Sten (FIN) – Silver medallists: “It was a very tough race, and we are so happy about the silver medal. It is a great moment for us.”

Berit Carow (GER) – Bronze medallists: “I am very happy about the decision about the two bronze medals. We had a good race, we had a very strong start, and we knew we had to go for gold right from the beginning, so at the end you have a medal at least.”

Katrin Olsen (DEN) – Bronze medallists: "We had our traditional slow start, but obviously a great finish. We were going for Gold, but sharing the bronze with the Germans who rowed on their home course is great also.”


Quist celebrats for Denmark, Rasmussen recovers

Lightweight men’s double sculls (LM2x)

It has been a steady progression for Denmark. Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist finished fourth at the 2004 Olympics, moved up to second in 2005 then won last year. Could they make it a double header? They come to these World Championships as the most successful boat this season and on a winning spree. They appear to race their own race, unperturbed by what goes on around them in other boats.

At the start Italy grabbed the lead. In bow Marcello Miani had just been given the ok by doctors to a right shoulder problem. The lead didn’t last long as Rasmussen and Quist took over the lead with Greece’s Vasileios Polymeros and Dimitrios Mougios sticking with them. Denmark, doing their own thing, remained at a 34 stroke rate and remained in the lead. Greece held on as Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter of Great Britain moved up. Purchase and Hunter only came together this year so can be considered the least experienced duo in this group. It didn’t stop their boat speed. At the line Denmark makes it a World Champion double header. Greece take silver and Great Britain win bronze.

Rasmus Quist (DEN) – Gold medalist: “It was pretty damn hard, very tiring almost all the way. After seeing the Australians in the semi-final, we expected to be second after them around 1000, but we had a little advantage and even the Greek came faster. We had a sprint at the end, where we were pushed by the crowd on both banks.”

Dimitrios Mougios (GRE) – Silver medallist: “It was a tough race. We had a really good start and kept a good position to the Danish. But our happiness is half because of what happened in Greece. After the bad fires there are still people missing that´s why we are wearing the black ribbon.”

Mark Hunter (GBR) – Bronze medallist: “This was the best complete race we ever had. The last 300m we just caught on and finished the job. It was great. This medal feels really good. ” 


Lightweight men’s four (LM4-)

What a line up. China are the current World Champions. Denmark is built around rowing legend, Olympic Champion, Eskild Ebbesen. Canada have been improving throughout the season and throughout this regatta. Great Britain won at the last Rowing World Cup. France have come back with force this season since winning in 2005. Italy hold three of the members that took an Olympic medal in 2004.

At the start Italy had the lead under the stroking of Bruno Mascarenhas. They held on as at least 70 bicycles followed the race along the shore, hoping they would not crash into each other. The race remained close. Going through the mid-point of the race less than 2 ½ seconds separated the entire field with China moving through to second and Canada just a smidgen behind them in third having remained at 39 through the first half of the race. Coming into the final sprint Great Britain had moved up to be neck and neck with Italy. France was charging. On the line Great Britain’s Richard Chambers, James Lindsay-Fynn, Paul Mattick and James Clarke, under the coaching of Robin Williams, had taken gold. France, on the very last stroke, take silver and Italy have to settle with bronze.

Paul Mattick (GBR) – Gold medallist: “We had a very good second part of the race, but also the first 1000 metres went quite well, and I can’t believe we won.”
“This is a very emotional moment for me, and it’s brilliant.” (Robin Williams – Coach)

Jean-Christophe Bette (FRA) – Silver medallist: “Our strategy was to start quick, to keep the speed. On the last 200 metres we recognised that the Italian team became tired, so we took our chance and increased our stroke rate, and fortunately made silver. ”

Bruno Mascharenhas (ITA) – Bronze medallist: “Us Italians are never content with just a medal, we always want to win. But it still is great to win this bronze. The Olympic preparation for next year we will do on our last ten strokes.”


Women’s quadruple sculls (W4x)

In 2005 Great Britain won gold. They expected to do the same in 2006, but Russia caught them out and got to the line first. A positive drug test later disqualified Russia awarding Great Britain the gold. Today the British made it three in a row enjoying again standing in the centre of the medals podium. This is how they did it.

Shooting out at a very aggressive pace and high rating, Great Britain opened up an impressive lead early in the race over winners of the second Rowing World Cup, China. This fast start caught all the other boats off guard, even Germany. Could the British maintain it? Meanwhile Canada was recovering after stroke Anna-Marie De Zwager retrieved an oar that came out of her hand momentarily.

Through the middle of the race Great Britain held a 34 stroke rate as Germany tried to do everything to close the gap. Great Britain remained in the lead. Germany sprinted hard. Great Britain just held them off.

Katherine Grainger (GBR) – Gold medallist: “There was a lot of emotion in this race, this is a fantastic result."

Britta Oppelt (GER) – Silver medallist: “This was our best race at this regatta, it just wasn’t quite enough.”
“We always want to win gold, but since this was our best race in Munich, this result is ok.” (Kathrin Boron)

Aihua Xi (CHN) – Bronze medallist: “We are not totally satisfied with the result”


?mediaid=354111&x0=19&y0=18&x1=279&y1=158&zoom=1" title="Getty Images">Men’s quadruple sculls (M4x)

Sitting in bow seat of the Polish boat is Konrad Wasielewski. He has never lost a race at the international level. Joining the quad for his country in 2005, Wasielewski is part of the boat that has won every race since. Today they took off at the head of the field stroked by senior member Adam Korol. Settling into a solid 33 to 34 strokes per minute the Czech Republic, Germany and France remained within striking distance. But the Poles looked well in control.

Germany, stroked by Robert Sens joined by young German team members – Karsten Brodowski who became under 23 champion last year in the single and Hans Gruhne did the same as a junior last year – were doing all they could to latch on to the Poles. Poland remained in the lead.

The six crews moved in to the final sprint. Poland still looked in control. Germany tried to hold on. France went for broke. Poland become three in a row World Champions, France’s awesome sprint gives them silver and Germany take bronze.

Marek Kolbowicz (POL) – Gold medallist: “We had a good race, it feels special to win another gold for Poland. Now the next step is the Olympic Games."

Julien Bahain (FRA) – Silver medallist: “It was a very strong and competitive race. I did not look left or right. On the last 200 meters, I closed my eyes, and kept the rhythm to finish successfully. I am very happy.”

Rene Bertram (GER) – Bronze medallist: “This race and the bronze medal was a great finish of this regatta. For next year we’ll have to wait and see. Everything will be mixed up again I think.”


?mediaid=354112&x0=119&y0=31&x1=379&y1=171&zoom=1" title="Getty Images">Women’s eight (W8+)

As only five boats qualify for the Olympics in this class, whoever came last today in this race would be devastated. That was not on the minds of nine women in the US boat. The United States won gold last year but had been given a scare with the return to international rowing of a bunch of Romania’s Olympic Champion eight from 2004. What plan would coach Tom Terhaar have to stop the Romanians? As the race unfolded the plan must have been to get out fast, take the lead and remain there. Right from the start the United States were in the lead. They settled into a 38 stroke rate, stretched out and waiting for any attacks to come. The slower starting Romanians were at the back of the field after 500m. They had moved through to fourth by the half-way point.

Meanwhile Great Britain were rowing a superb race in the middle of the field with the fast starting, high rating Canadians slipping back. At the line the United States had done it. Two in a row. Romania came through to take second and a very happy Great Britain earn bronze. Canada, at the back of the field, will not qualify for the Olympics at this regatta.

Zsuzsanna Francia (USA) – Gold medallist: “We believed, we asserted our will. It was amazing and the crowd was awesome. Mary was fantastic, she led us to victory."

Ana Maria Apachitei (ROU) – Silver medallist: “It was a very good, but very hard competition. We always have to be there from the start."

Natasha Howard (GBR) – Bronze medallist: “It is incredible. This year has been really great. I am very happy that we qualified for the Olympics."


Men’s eight (M8+)

Leaping out at the start at a 44 stroke rate, Canada continued where they had left off at the last Rowing World Cup – leading races from start to finish. Obviously the Olympic curse of winning this event in the year before the Olympics was not on their mind. Winning was.

Germany, in the outside lane, took chase with Russia trying to hold the pace. As Russia began to slip back, the United States came through. But the Olympic Champions, USA, didn’t seem to have the goods today. Great Britain then moved up. Canada remained well in the lead. Germany heard the crowd and did everything in their powers to mow Canada down. At the line Canada become World Champions for the first time since 2003. Last year’s World Champions Germany take silver and Great Britain earn bronze.

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