It also meant that more crews qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games. Read on to find out how the racing went.

Legs, trunk, arms mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+) – Semfinals

Last year the Canadians came through to defeat 2009 World Champions, Great Britain in the final. Today they met again in semifinal one with Great Britain getting the upper hand over the Canadians. Canada tried to hold on but the British were too strong. The very experienced Naomi Riches of Great Britain is the sole athlete in the boat that remains from the 2008 Paralympic bronze medal boat. Riches has been competing at the international level since 2004. The finishing order, and qualifiers for tomorrow’s final, was Great Britain, Canada and France. These three boats have also qualified for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Results: GBR, CAN, FRA, UKR, BRA, POL

Semifinal two turned into a close race between the United States, Germany and Ireland as all three boats did their best to remain in a good qualifying position. All three of these boats were in the final in 2010 with Germany doing the best by taking bronze. Germany held off their competition today and crossed the line just ahead of Ireland, with the long fluid stroking United States coming through in third. These three boats earn spots in the final and also qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Results: GER, IRL, USA, CHN, ITA, RUS

The Greek Men's Four with Stergios Papachristos (b), Ioannis Tsilis, Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou (s) posing at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Men’s Four (M4-) – Semifinals

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There is no denying the continuing success of the Greeks who raced in semifinal one. Last year they finished second in this event and have changed two members of the boat. Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou have come in from the pair. Canada had a fast start before Australia took over in the lead. This Australian boat is a mixture of youth and experience with Olympic Champion Drew Ginn in two seat. This Australian boat was hoping to have Olympic Champion, Duncan Free in the boat, but a bike accident ruined his season.

As Canada slipped back Australia and Greece went head-to-head at the front of the field. As the finish line came into view Germany picked up the pace and tried to close. Sitting in the German lane right on the finish line was a family of swans, absolutely oblivious of the action that was heading their way. At the line Greece, on 41, had managed to get ahead of Australia with Germany, just missing the swans, coming through to qualify for the final from third. These three boats get the added bonus of qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games. Last year’s bronze medallists, New Zealand had to settle for fourth and a chance to qualify for the Olympics through the b-final.

Results: GRE, AUS, GER, NZL, ITA, CAN

Ioannis Christou (GRE) 
“Very happy to qualify for the Olympics. A big load came off of our shoulders today and we will give our best tomorrow. ”

Joshua Dunkley – Smith (AUS)
“We are pretty happy for coming through, it was a good race. We got plenty of inspiration today and we are looking forward to tomorrow.”

Sebastian Schmidt (GER)
“Olympic qualification and making it into the final was our minimum goal. We are actually not too happy with how we rowed. We still need to improve for the final. But it was tough race and nobody gave in. We knew Greece would be strong, but at least the gap from Lucerne is smaller now. We also knew that the Australian performance in Lucerne was not what they would be capable off and that they would be a strong crew to contend with. Final next. ” 

At the end of semifinal two a spread of just two seconds would cover the six boats that made it through to the final. Semifinal two unfolded with the Dutch getting off to a speedy start before 2009 World Champions, Great Britain took over in the lead and pushed away to a clear margin. The British boat, who finished fourth last year but have dominated this season, looked comfortable and relaxed at the head of the field.

Coming into the final sprint, the United States, Belarus and the Netherlands sprinted hard. Great Britain did just enough to hold them off. A very happy US crew (Lanzone, Newlin, Gault and Cole) came through in second with the Dutch just piping Belarus to take third. After the line the Americans celebrated. After their men’s eight didn’t qualify for the 2012 Olympics, they were relieved to get through. Great Britain and the Netherlands also qualify for 2012 and also will go to the finals tomorrow.

Results: GBR, USA, NED, BLR, SRB, CZE

Richard Egington (GBR)
 
“Our main goal was to qualify for the finals, so we didn’t think about the Olympics too much.”

 Charles Cole (USA)
“It was a very difficult race”.

Ruben Knab (NED)
“After such a start, it couldn’t go wrong! Towards the end it was less comfortable, but we have a lot of strength on board and we could hold our qualifying position with our sprint.”

Hester Goodsell (b) and Sophie Hosking (s) representing Great Britain in the Lightweight Women's Double Sculls racing at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Semifinals

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In semifinal one the Greek double looked unstoppable. Christina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou finished third at the World Champs last year and Tsiavou has spent this season winning the lightweight single. By the half way point Giazitzidou and Tsiavou had a clear water lead over China in second with Great Britain’s Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking a bit back in third.

As the final sprint came into view, both Great Britain and New Zealand closed on China but Greece still remained easily out in front. Then New Zealand charged. This is Lucy Strack and Louise Ayling of New Zealand’s first season together. Last year Strack, 21, was sixth in the double at the Karapiro World Championships while Ayling, 23, finished an unexpected second in the lightweight single.

The New Zealand sprint brought them into second behind Greece with Great Britain denying China of a spot in the final. Greece, New Zealand and Great Britain move to the final and also earn those very important 2012 Olympic qualifying spots.

Results: GRE, NZL, GBR, CHN, ITA, BEL

Alexandra Giazitzidou (GRE) 
“This is an emotional moment for us, our goal was to qualify here. Now there is only one race left. One race, for fun. ”

Lucy Strack (NZL)
“We are really happy. We give all that we can and we ended second. We are trained to give our best. So tomorrow we will give the best of us and will see what happens.”

Sophie Hosking (GBR)
“We qualified, that was our primary goal. Tomorrow is another day. For now it is job done, get a rest .” 

Despite Greece’s domination in semifinal one, Australia’s Alice McNamara and Hannah Every-Hall recorded the fastest qualifying time from semifinal two. The Australian duo was fourth last year in Every-Hall’s comeback season after taking time off to start a family.  

The Dutch got off the fastest at the start before slipping to the back of the field with Australia and the United States moving out to the leading positions. Germany, who have had a very mundane season, then came through to third with half the race gone.

The race remained tight so that all six boats would have to sprint to the line. The biggest sprint came from Canada. The Canadians are the reigning World Champions but about a month ago Tracy Cameron suffered rib problems and had to pull out of this event. Under-23 rower Patricia Obee joined last year’s champion, Lindsay Jennerich and together they were charging at a 43 stroke rate for the line. Despite Canada’s flurry a very happy Australia had held off Canada. Australia, Canada and World Rowing Cup series winners, Kristin Hedstrom and Julie Nichols of the United States had made it through to third. These three countries now qualify for the final and the 2012 Olympic Games.

Results: AUS, CAN, USA, NED, GER, DEN

Hannah Every-Hall (AUS)
“This was bloody exciting! ”

Alice McNamara (AUS) 
“This was great. Olympic qualification – honestly, it’s great but it was only in the very back of our mind. One step at a time and we had to keep it simple for each race, otherwise the pressure just gets too high. This was great hard work and a fantastic team effort. It was amazing.”

Patricia Obee (CAN) 
“Good race, it’s good to qualify. We’re looking forward to do our best.”

Linus Lichtschlag (b) and Lars Hartig (s) of Germany after the semis of the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals

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A lead from start to finish gave 2009 World Champions, Storm Uru and Peter Taylor of New Zealand the win at the line, plus the fastest qualifying time. Uru and Taylor went back to basics after finishing third at last year’s World Chamionships and it looks to have paid off as they may be the crew to beat in tomorrow’s final.

France’s Jeremie Azou and Frederic Dufour  along with Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini of Italy then attacked the New Zealand lead going into the middle of the race. Uru and Taylor held them off. But the race was not over. In the final sprint Germany, from the back of the field, pulled out a big one. Linus Lichtschlag and Lars Hartig of Germany were seventh in this event last year but picked up a gold medal in the lightweight quad. Today they pushed past Italy, France and Canada to finish second.

New Zealand held on to first with Italy’s 2010 silver medallists, Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini taking third. These boats earn spots in the final and also qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Results: NZL, GER, ITA, FRA, NOR, CAN

Storm Uru  (NZL)
“It was a fast and hard race, all crews out there deserved to be in the final really. Our race went really well.  ”

Linus Lichtschlag (GER) 
“Unbelievable.
At 500 we were not in the top three. I called a push then and Lars just pulled so hard it was amazing and the last metres were just so much fun. It was our goal to make the final. We got that, so we can now enjoy tomorrow and have fun in the final.”

Lars Hartig (GER) 
“This was a great race. Everything was so close and the level of this event is just great and very competitive. It was fun racing.”

Lorenzo Bertini  (ITA) 
“We are very happy because except for Norway, this was an A final. The pressure at the start was very high because of the qualification for the Olympics. Now we are happy it is done. Tomorrow we will give all the last power and we hope for a podium”

The reigning World Champions, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter of Great Britain took the lead in semifinal two and settled into a comfortable rhythm of around 33 strokes per minute. Despite their small margin over China, the British continued to look relaxed and in the lead. Purchase and Hunter have had a mixed season. Purchase struggled with health issues and only managed to row at one World Rowing Cup. But they have been looking great here in Bled and they continued to remain relaxed coming into the final sprint.

Then in the last 200m Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist of Denmark upped their rating and closed on the British, in the process overtaking Fangbing Zhang and Tiexin Wang of China. Denmark’s 40 stroke rate pace gave them second, just behind Great Britain with China holding on to third. These are the boats that will be in the final. They are also the boats that have now qualified for the 2012 London Olympics.

Results: GBR, DEN, CHN, POR, GRE, POL

Emma Twigg of New Zealand racing in the semis of the Women's Single Sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals

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Xiuyun Zhang of China burst onto the international scene 18 years ago taking gold in the quad. Today, at 35, she showed that she is a force in the single when she raced in semifinal one against the awesome, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus. Last year’s World Champion, Frida Svensson of Sweden led at the start before Zhang pushed in front with Karsten very much on the pace. This three-way tussle left the rest of the field far behind.

Despite being in the qualifying positions, none of the three was willing to let go. Karsten then pushed into the lead with 500m left to row. Zhang attacked back with Svensson upping her stroke rate to 34 to hold on. Zhang, Karsten and Svensson crossed the line with just one second separating them. These three boats will race again in Sunday’s final in the knowledge that they have already qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Results: CHN, BLR, SWE, LTU, USA, AZE

Despite the tussle that went on in semifinal one the second semifinal recorded the fastest qualifying time when Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic led from start to finish. In a similar scenario to the first semifinal, three boats took over in the lead. Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele  and final World Rowing Cup winner, Emma Twigg of New Zealand followed closely behind. Then, as Twigg pulled ahead of Thiele, Knapkova really broke away to an open water lead. The two leading boats then settled into their spots with both Twigg and Knapkova rating 29.

Coming into the line the order remained the same. The Czech Republic, New Zealand and Germany had qualified for the final and for the Olympic Games.

Results: CZE, NZL, GER, GBR, EST, RUS

 

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