First rowing medals at 2013 Universiade

07/07/2013 - 20:48:00

The grandstands were busy at the Kazan Rowing Centre as the first rowing finals of the 2013 Universiade took to the water. It was also the first time the grandstands really came alive with spectators, armed with flags and singing national songs to support their rowers.

On this first day of finals, medals were awarded in five boat classes.

Women’s double sculls (W2x)
This first final of the 2013 Universiade rowing regatta ended as many predicted. Lithuania’s Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite leapt out of the blocks and didn’t  stop until they reached the finish line. With every stroke they pulled a little further away from the field. Vistartaite and Valciukaite come to this regatta as recently crowned European Champions and therefore  such a dominant performance would certainly have been their race plan.

This final did not see any shuffling of position throughout the 2,000m of racing. The order established in the opening metres was the order in which they crossed the finish line. Never the less, with a Russian crew in the mix, the crowds of spectators and fellow athletes in the grandstand created an atmosphere of excitement around the race.

At the line, Belarus’ Tatsiana Kukhta and Katsiaryna Shliupskaya had earned the silver medal and Anna Kravchenko and Olena Buriak took the bronze for Ukraine.

Women’s single sculls (W1x)
The start of the women’s single sculls final saw Latvia’s Elza Gulbe blast out of the blocks, totally focused on getting into a dominant position and then holding on to the lead. However, it wasn’t to be as the Ukranian sculler Nataliia Dovgodko found her rhythm and was first to the 500m mark with a virtual line being drawn in the battle for silver and bronze.IMG_3189 - Copy

As the race came down the course there was a real shuffling of position as crews battled hard to establish a definite ranking. As the final 500m came into view three scullers had pulled themselves to the front of the field and the battle got hotter than ever. Jitka Antosova had bided her time but in these closing stages she realised it was now or never. She found another gear and really put the pressure on Dovgodko. But it was too late for the Olympian and she had to settle for silver. Latvia’s Gulbe rowed relatively unchallenged to bronze as Ireland’s Monika Durkarska had nothing left to challenge for a podium placing.

Men’s four (M4-)
Fast and furious racing was on display for the crowd as the men’s fours powered down the course and it was Germany who took the race into their hands. This was much to the delight of large German contingent in the grandstand, who chanted “Deutschland! Deutchland!” for the majority of the six and a half minute race, really willing their foursome home. The cheers of support must have been heard in the boat because the Germans, led by Alexander-Nicholas Egler, extended their lead over their nearest challengers, Italy as they rowed by the grandstands.

Italy had managed to get themselves into silver medal position having over-taken the Russian boat in the first half of the race. Not letting go of the hope that the Universiade title could be theirs, they really kept the pressure on, but it was not enough to out-row the Germans. They earned silver while Russia had managed to keep bronze ahead of a fast finishing Lithuanian crew.

Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x)
The final of the lightweight women’s double sculls was much anticipated as it featured two of 2012’s Under 23 Champions. Belarus’s champion lightweight sculler, Alena Kryvasheyenka, has joined forced with Iryna Liaskova to form a fast combination.IMG_3234

Germany’s  Nora Wessel holds the Under 23 world title in this boat class, so her experience would be valuable to making the boat she shares with Katrin Thoma move fast. Germany had been the winners of their respective heat yesterday and so on paper looked to be the boat that would challenge Belarus.

However, the Germans did not get off to the most dominating of starts and really had a fight on their hands to get into a medal position. Belarus took off at a strong pace and looked long and strong as they rowed every stroke. Russia followed suit, sitting in silver medal position for the majority of the race. It looked like the desire of winning a medal at their home Universiade would take them home to a silver medal finish. But it was not to be as the Germans dug deep in the closing stages of racing and squeezed past the home crew to claim silver behind Belarus.

Lightweight men’s four (LM4-)
The German crowds in the grandstand were well warmed up by the time the final of the day’s medal finals lined up at the start. The lightweight men’s four is renowned for being one of the most intense of all the boat classes and so every crew on the start knew that victory in this race would go to the rowers who could keep the rate high and the maximum pressure on every stroke. Today that crew was Germany.IMG_3260

Tobias Daniel Franzmann, Stefan Wallat, Daniel Wisgott and Lasse Antczak blasted out of the start pontoon and didn’t let their power or determination waiver for a single stroke. France followed in second place and, seeing these two crews on the big screen, German and French fans started chanting and cheering, almost in a battle of their own.

Coming into the final stage of the race it was clear that the Germans were just a number of strokes away from Universiade gold. Crossing the line they and their supporters were delighted. France had earned silver and a determined crew of Japan’s finest university rowers had taken bronze.

Full results can be found here.

The remaining A-finals will be rowed on Monday, starting with the lightweight women’s single at 10:40MST. B-finals commence at 09:09MST.