Drysdale matches five-time World Champ record
Today, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand became a five-time World Champion at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia. Racing in the men’s single sculls, Drysdale match the great Peter-Michael Kolbe to become a five-time World Champion and in the process broke Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic’s winning streak.
In hot and sunny conditions with a small tail-cross wind, seven finals were raced including the men’s pair, women’s double sculls and a dramatic finish in the men’s quadruple sculls.
Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) – Final
Coming through from races earlier this week it looked as if this final would be a battle between Italy and Great Britain. The British finished fourth last year and have retained two members of their 2010 boat, while Italy took fifth and have one member in the boat from 2010.
At the start both Italy and Great Britain jumped out quickly and these two boats spent the first half of the race playing tag with the British having a slight advantage. Then the Italians ran out of steam and China, who were third last year, pushed into second. As Italy continued to fade, last year’s silver medallists, the United States gave it their all. The US have a completely new crew from their 2010 boat and they were at 40 strokes per minute as they pushed to the line.
Meanwhile the British (Cullen, Walsh, Twyman and Dennis) remained in front with China now on a 44 stroke rate. Great Britain crossed the line easily in first, China in second, the United States in third and Italy missing out on a medal by 1/100th of a second.
Results: GBR, CHN, USA, ITA, GER, AUS
Andrea Dennis (GBR) – Gold
“We just planned to do a good time. And we did!! I was saying GO GO GO and we were able to win.”
Jing Liu (CHN) – Silver
“We have only been rowing together since coming here to Bled. So it’s good to race here and to win a medal. This is a great place and great people. It was a hard race, but that is sport.”
Hillary Saeger and Katherine Robinson (USA) – Bronze
“When we noticed we were moving in on the Italians we went for it. It was so close at the end, I just thought: sit up, keep it clean go strong. We had no idea where we were in the final meters, but we just got it, on 0,01th of a second!”
There was no denying the intentions of Denmark. Right from the start Pultz, Juergensen, Christensen and Espersen of Denmark were aggressive. They rated above 40 strokes per minute to grab the lead and by the half way point they had worked their way into a boat length lead over nearest rivals Argentina and France. Denmark continued to pull away and a 37 stroke rate pace at the end gave them an easy win. A big sprint by France gave them second with Argentina running out of steam and finishing third.
Results: DEN, FRA, ARG, THA, IND, IRI
Women’s Four (W4-) – Finals
In the race for lanes earlier this week the United States led the way. Today, however, was a new day and there is no doubt that reigning World Champions, the Netherlands would have something up their sleeves. The Dutch leaped out at the start with the United States and Australia following very closely. By the half way point The United States had pulled into the lead. The US finished third last year and have turned up in 2011 with an entirely new boat.
As the boats moved into the final quarter of the race, Australia had pushed past the Dutch and were moving up on the United States. Both Kate Hornsey and Pauline Frasca of Australia rowed to a silver last year in this boat. The same colour looked to be coming their way as the United States continued to hold off Australia’s 39 stroke rate charge. The United States had won in the very last time that this event will be raced at the World Rowing Championships. If an event gets less than seven participants three years running, the continuation of the event is questioned.
Results: USA, AUS, NED, CHN, ITA
Sarah Zelenka (USA) – Gold
“We were well ahead and we could control the race. At the end the Australians were pushing hard but we could control our advance. This is good for USA and we are proud of our win. ”
Kate Hornsey (AUS) – Silver
“It‘s always great to win a World Championship medal. With the bronze medal in the pair and the qualification there, it’s a dream. Of course we were hoping for gold, but today USA was too good for us.”
Wianka van Dorp (NED) – Bronze
“We had a good start and could keep the initiative in a nice tailwind. But then there was less togetherness in our rowing, and USA and Australia immediately passed us. But we stayed focused on our race, and had a good sprint. Not enough for gold or silver, but still a medal.”
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Final
At the end of this race Christopher Morgan, James McRae, Karsten Forsterling and Daniel Noonan of Australia would make history. At the end of this race Australia would win this event for the first time ever in dramatic fashion. This is how it panned out.
Russia jumped out to an early lead with Australia and Germany chasing hard. The Germans have come through this season as favourites over 2010 World Champions Croatia. Schulz, Wende, Schoof and Grohmann of Germany have taken two golds and a silver this season from the World Rowing Cup series.
By the half way point the Germans had pushed into the lead with only Australia able to match the Germans pace. Australia continued to hold on as these two boats moved away from the rest of the field. It was tight coming to the line with Germany retaining the edge. Then, disaster struck for the Germans. Just two strokes from the line Lauritz Schoof caught a boat stopping crab. Had he hit one of the big Lake Bled fish? Could momentum get them to the line ahead of Australia? An overjoyed Australian crew celebrated instantly. The Germans sat dejected.
To huge crowd support, Croatia had come from the back of the field through to third, helped by a big push at the 1400m mark.
Results: AUS, GER, CRO, POL, RUS, ITA
James McRae (AUS) – Gold
“We wanted to put the pressure on Germany, and when we were clear of the field it was just storming together down to the finish line. We knew we were have a good sprint, and took the gold on the line, it was a fantastic race! ”
Karl Schulz (GER) – Silver
“Oh well, I still can’t really say what happened. Just that we were going short slide and sprinting. The boat might have tipped a bit and that’s when Lauritz must have gotten stuck. We would have won, but this shows again you can never be sure in a race. Everything worked well for us, but at the end it was just the tunnel and it was all black in front of my eyes. I guess I didn’t even realize that we were that close to the finish line.”
“A World Championship medal of course is great too – gold just wasn’t meant to be and next year will be more important anyway.”
Valent Sinkovic (CRO) – Bronze
“The race didn’t go as we planned. Normally at the start we should have pushed harder but it was impossible. Maybe the semi-final, I don’t know. But we have to be happy with a medal when we see what happened to Germany.”
The crews sat on the water just after the finish line. Five of these six boats would qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games and all boats had crossed within 2 and ½ seconds of each other. Great Britain knew that they had won. The Americans had come second and Switzerland knew that they had qualified from third. The rest of the field sat there their eyes peeled to the big screen. A couple of minutes must have felt like hours. New Zealand and Ukraine had made it through. Cuba had missed out by just a quarter of a second.
The race started with Great Britain in the lead. The British had high expectations after taking silver at the final World Rowing Cup of the season and they were disappointed not to be in the a-final. They made the best of today and led, albeit just a fraction, over a fierce battle between Switzerland, the United States and New Zealand. A big sprint finish by the United States earned them the second place on the line with Switzerland able to hold on to third. After the finish line all crews remained quiet. Respectful for each other and the race that they had just completed.
Cuba rowed slowly back to the dock, heads down.
When a boat nearly strikes the World Best Time in slight tail wind conditions, you know that they’re fast. New Zealand’s Hamish Bond an Eric nearly did it today on the warm waters of Lake Bled when they won the men’s pair for the third year straight. Bond and Murray finished a disappointing seventh at the 2008 Olympics in the four. Murray was all prepared to retire when Bond talked him into continuing. As soon as they jumped in a pair together Bond and Murray started recording very quick prognostic times. The rest is history – a three year unbeaten streak.
After overtaking a fast starting German boat, New Zealand took the lead and never looked back. Only Great Britain’s Reed and Triggs Hodge came close to challenging. At the finish Bond and Murray were just half a second off the World Best Time and the British, in second, had recorded their own personal best with a finishing sprint that saw them hit 49 strokes per minute. Back in third, Italy’s Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini looked very pleased with their position.
Results: NZL, GBR, ITA, GRE, CAN, GER
Hamish Bond (NZL) Gold
“We saw our time on the big screen and we were thinking if we had pushed a little bit more we could have beaten the world’s best time. We trained well. We had good control of the race. ”
Andrew Triggs Hodge (GBR) – Silver
“I think in the last months we demonstrated how fast we can be in the pair. It has been a big challenge and I am proud of what we have achieved so far, with the help of many. We wanted to win. But this position is not bad to build up towards next year.”
Niccolo Mornati (ITA) – Bronze
“We are very happy with a medal. The others were just stronger. It’s great to be amongst the top three fastest pairs in the world.”
France took a flier at the start. Rating an incredible 51 strokes per minute, Michael Molina and Benjamin Lang of France had the lead for just a short time. Nanne Sluis and Rogier Blink of the Netherlands then took over in the lead with Hungary chasing hard. Five Olympic qualification spots were on the line out of the six boats competing. The mantra must have been, ‘don’t come last’. The Dutch remained in the lead with the Australian’s Thomas Larkins and Cameron McKenzie McHarg now bearing down on the Dutch. Larkins is the young gun in the Australian boat, while McKenzie McHarg has an Olympic silver medal from the four.
In the sprint to the line the French had totally run out of steam, paying heavily for their early pace. They miss out on qualifying for the Olympics. A big crowd support for Hungary helped them earn fifth place and a spot in the Olympics along with Serbia, the United States, the Netherlands and Australia.
Results: AUS, NED, USA, SRB, HUN, FRA
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Final
Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger of Great Britain have not lost a race since they came together at the start of the 2010 season. At last year’s World Rowing Championships they won by a staggering five and a half seconds over Kerry Hore and Kim Crow of Australia. This year these two crews faced off again in today’s final.
Watkins and Grainger jumped out at the start and did what they like to do, lead from start to finish. But the Australians desperately wanted the gold and stuck as closely to the British as was possible. Great Britain, at a steady 33 stroke rate remained in the lead and managed to work their way to nearly a boat length lead.
Hore and Crow would have to do a massive sprint if they wanted to get into first before the line. The Australians upped their stroke rate to 38 and charged for the line. So did New Zealand, getting up to 43 strokes per minute. The British either couldn’t react or didn’t feel that they needed to and remained at 33. Australia and New Zealand’s Fiona Paterson and Anna Reymer got closer and closer. Great Britain had held off the charge. This year three boats had got inside five second of Great Britain’s time. Great Britain successfully defended their World Champion title.
Results: GBR, AUS, NZL, UKR, POL, CZE
Katherine Grainger (GBR) – Gold
“We did not have the best preparation this year, after having had an injury, but we knew that if we could get it right, and really gave everything, we would still be able to win. It was a much tighter race than last year, and we had to dig deep in the end. The competition is getting stronger and stronger, but it looks good for next year. ”
Kerry Hore (AUS) – Silver
“I’m really disappointed, but this just fires us up for next year. We have so much faith in ourselves and our coach and we’ve got a bit over a year and we will only get stronger as a combination.”
Fiona Paterson (NZL) – Bronze
“This result was unexpected. AUS and GBR are very fast. This is a great result for us .”
Of the six boats lining up only two boats would qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. The tension was high at the start line as Carina Baer and Nina Wengert of Germany jumped out and set the racing pace from the front. Young Baer raced to silver earlier this season in the single at the under-23 championships, while Wengert was in the German eight last year. Together they led the way countering challenges from the United States and then Yan Jiang and Jingli Duan of China. Both Jiang and Duan made the Chinese team for the first time last year with Jiang racing to seventh in the quad. Duan was eighth in the single a year ago.
China kept the heat on the Germans who managed to hold them off. In the last 200m the United States desperately tried to make it into that vital qualifying spot with a 40 stroke rate charge. The Americans missed out. Germany and China are off to the 2012 Olympics.
Results: GER, CHN, USA, FIN, SRB, IRL
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Final
“Stick with Alan Campbell.” That must have been the thought going through the mind of both New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale and Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Alan Campbell of Great Britain got out to a blistering start as has been customary. Campbell has had a mixed season struggling with an illness that kept him out of the final World Rowing Cup. Today, Campbell was rating high and holding the lead. Defending World Champion Synek then managed to get his nose in front at 1150m mark. These three boats were matching each other – unrelenting.
Then, just before the 1400m mark Drysdale attacked. Just a few strokes later four-time World Champion Drysdale had the lead. Drysdale has come to Bled with an element of uncertainty. He has been dealing with an arthritic condition in his back and has had to limit time in the boat. Drysdale continued to hold on to the lead as the finish line came into view.
Campbell started to falter as Drysdale and Synek charged for the line. Synek hit a 41 stroke rate while Drysdale was rating in the high 30s. The finish was oh so tight. Drysdale sat quietly after the finish eyes peeled to the big screen waiting for confirmation of the results. He had won. Drysdale had become five-time World Champion, matching the record of five titles set by the great Peter-Michael Kolbe of Germany.
Results: NZL, CZE, GBR, GER, SWE, NOR
Mahe Drysdale (NZL) – Gold
“I’ve learnt a lot from this year. This win really means a lot to me and I got a bit emotional there. I have 18 months of hell behind me, but I feel that I’m back on track now. I reckon I’ll still be stuck on the bike for a while, but it’s good to be back out there again and great to be back on that winner podium.”
Ondrej Synek (CZE) – Silver
“It was a good competition, but not so good for me. I had some stomach problems a couple weeks ago and lost five kilos. So I’m a bit disappointed, but also happy to be here and it’s great to still win a silver medal."
Alan Campbell (GBR) – Bronze
“I had no more legs to push at the end. I had some problem during the season and the training with my health but no excuses, they were stronger today. Now I will focus on London.”
Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis has been just on the edge of breaking into the a-final of the single with the 25-year-old earning a fourth earlier this season at the World Rowing Cup in Munich. Today Griskonis got out ahead of fast starter, Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba and held on. Two-metres tall Fournier, who has come through with some very fast times from the heats and quarterfinals, tried to hold on the Griskonis and with that remained firmly in second.
In this race the top five boats would qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games and early in the race it looked like that depressing last place would come down to a race between Bulgaria and the United States.
In the final sprint Ken Jurkowski of the United States gave it his all to get ahead of Bulgaria as Azerbaijan’s Aleksandar Aleksandrov, at a 41 stroke rate, charged for the line. China’s Olympian Liang Zhang held on. Griskonis, Fournier, Alexsandrov, Zhang and Jurkowski earn spots for their country at next year’s Olympics.
Results: LTU, CUB, AZE, CHN, USA, BUL
Trunk, Arms Mixed Double Sculls (TAMix2x) – Final
In one of the biggest upsets of the day, World Champions Ukraine found themselves out of the medals. Ukraine led at the start before their lead was taken over by the debuting boat of China, Xiaoxian Lou and Tianming Fei. This is the first time Lou and Fei have raced internationally and using a 37 stroke rate they were now powering away at the head of the field.
Australia (Kathryn Ross and John MacLean) and last year’s silver medallists, Perle Bouge and Stephane Tardieu of France took up chase and also overtook the suffering Ukrainians. At the line Lou and Fei remained in front followed closely by France with 2008 Paralympic medallists, Australia in third.
Results: CHN, FRA, AUS, UKR, ITA, GBR
Xiaoxian LOU (CHN) – Gold
“I am so tired, but delighted. We took our race step by step. It was tough, but we won! ”
Perle Bouge (FRA) – Silver
“We are young in rowing and we are missing experience in the tactics to follow. We are strong enough to win but for this race we were watching out for Ukraine, but we forgot China. Last year we were also second but behind the Ukraine. Now we are second after China. So next year with more tactics we may win.”
Kathryn Ross (AUS) – Bronze
“We stuck to our race plan, which gave us structure. We knew this would be manic and fast. We are very happy with the medal and the qualification. This is a great result going into London next year.”
Two Paralympic qualifying spots were up for grabs in this event and Israel (Reuven Magnagey and Olga Sokolov) and Poland (Michal Gadowski and Jolanta Pawlak) appeared to want them the most. The two boats held a very close duel at the front of the field. srael had a slightly better pedigree than Poland. They raced in the final last year finishing sixth.This duel moved Israel and Poland further and further away from the rest of the field. At the line Israel managed to sneak across just a fraction of a second faster than Poland.
Results: ISR, POL, USA, BLR, JPN, SLO
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