Gold medal haul for Greece at the European Championships
The first champions were crowned this morning on the beautifully flat waters of Plovdiv Rowing Course at the 2011 European Championships, in Bulgaria. Greece proved to be the country to beat, wining three golds in quick succession, with Italy hot on their tails.
Cooler weather accompanied an ever-so-slight head-cross wind which meant that there was a lane change for the top two seeded crews to get the best advantage from the conditions in the A-finals.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – A-final
The women’s pair was the first of the A-finals racing and they got off to a fine start in front of a full Plovdiv grandstand right on the edge of the water.
Romania’s Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu made it three-in-a-row when they crossed the finish line in first. Lupascu and Albu first won the European Championships in 2009 and they haven’t lost since.
Today the Romanians were challenged, but not too hard, by Yuliya Bichyk and Natallia Helakh of Belarus. Bichyk and Helakh took bronze at the Beijing Olympics, but they have not had such good results in recent years. Through the middle of the race Lupascu and Albu had a handy advantage and it was only in the final sprint that Belarus was able to close the gap a little. Romania took first, Belarus second and the Italians Claudia Wurzel and Sara Bertolasi took third.
Results: ROU, BLR, ITA, GER, UKR, BUL
Camelia Lupascu (ROU) – Gold
“We are very satisfied with our result. We gave everything we had for the good win.”
Nicoleta Albu (ROU) – Gold
“We trained very hard and we really hope for a win at the Olympics”
Yuliya Bichyk (BLR) -Silver
“It’s the first time I’ve been in Bulgaria. I really like it and I fee good here. I’m very happy that we won a medal.”
Claudia Wurzel (ITA) – Bronze
“We are very excited that we qualified for the first time for the Olympics and we are very satisfied with our medal here in Bulgaria.”
Veronika Karlsson and Carin Andersson of Sweden had an easy win over the higher rating Greek pair. Karlsson last raced internationally as a junior nearly a decade ago. She has used these European Championships to make her comeback and at the line Karlsson and Andersson could consider their rank to be seventh overall.
Results: SWE, GRE
Men’s Pair (M2-) – A-final
This race was shaping up to be the grudge match of the regatta. Two weeks ago at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled Italy’s Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini had pushed Greece (Nikolaos and Apostolos Gkountoulas) out of the medals and into fourth. Today, the Gkountoulas brothers decided to do something about this. Both Italy and Greece got away together at the start with Greece just squeezing their nose in front after 40 strokes. The 26 year old Gkountoulas twins then managed to get about half a boat length over the more experienced Mornati and Carboncini. Carboncini, 35, is medallist from the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Going into the second half of the race Italy and Greece had moved far away from the rest of the field with Greece still holding the edge. Then at the 1400m mark the Italians made a move, taking their stroke rate to 40. It appeared to have no impact. Greece remained in the lead.
Results: GRE, ITA, SRB, POL, BLR, ROU
Apostolos Gkountoulas (GRE) – Gold
“I’ve been rowing for ten years in this discipline and the feeling of being a winner is the best.It was a great race and the water was perfect”
Niccolo Mornati (ITA) - Silver
“We are very proud of our result. There is a bit of tiredness after the World Championships. The Greeks deserved to win because they were in greater shape and were faster. Bulgaria is a nice place. We really like it.”
Jovan Popovic (SRB) – Bronze
“I think we had the opportunity to show our best. This is the third time I’ve been here and I really like it.”
Nikola Stojic (SRB) – Bronze
“I am very happy. This is the first medal of the year and I am very satisfied.”
Russia took off in the lead and held it through the first half of the race. But going into the third 500 margins closed up with a tight battle between the Netherlands, Spain, Hungary and the Russian crew forming. A huge push by the Dutch gave them the lead. The Hungarians (Adrian Juhasz and Bela Simon JR) then gave it their all. Taking their stroke rate to 41 Juhasz and Simon charged for the finish line. The charge brought them through from fourth place into first and earned them a seventh place overall. This is three spots better than the Hungarian’s finish at the 2010 European Championships.
Results: HUN, NED, ESP, RUS, GER, BUL
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – A-final
There was no doubt about Ukraine’s intentions in this event. Anastasiia Kozhenkova and Yana Dementieva of Ukraine shot off the line so quickly that by the first 500 metre mark Kozhenkova and Dementieva had a huge six second advantage. Had they gone off too hard or were they just simply far superior? By the half-way point Serbia’s Iva Obradovic and Ivana Filipovic had closed the gap a little. Obradovic is best known as a single sculler, but she changed to the double this season and finished eleventh at the World Rowing Championships earlier this month.
In the third 500 Obradovic and Filipovic continued to close on Ukraine with the Czech Republic not far back. Kozhenkova and Dementieva now looked to be in considerable pain. It was yet to be seen if they could hold on. In the final sprint both Ukraine and Serbia looked exhausted. Ukraine had triumphed and held off Serbia who, in turn, had held off Lenka and Jitka Antosova of the Czech Republic.
Results: UKR, SRB, CZE, ITA, DEN, BLR
Yana Dementieva (UKR) – Gold
“This is the last competition of the year. I am very happy about the first place.”
Anastasiia Kozhenkova (UKR) – Gold
“It is very nice in Bulgaria but sometimes it can get very hot and it's hard to breathe.”
Iva Obradovic (SRB) - Silver
“There was severe competition from Ukraine and Belarus. We have already met them around the world and a good race is necessary in order to win a medal.”
Lenka Antosova (CZE) – Bronze
“It was a very good race. The competition was tough.”
Jitka Antosova (CZE) – Bronze
“We are very pleased with what we have achieved.”
The Hungarians again showed how to race from behind and do a big finishing sprint. Krisztina Gyimes and Katalin Szabo of Hungary came out at the start in dead last. Slowly working their way through the field, they took the lead in the final 500m of the race. But getting ahead did not come easy for Gyimes and Szabo as Austria pushed hard right to the end. Just half a second separated these two boats at the finish.
Results: HUN, AUT, RUS
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – A-final
At the start of the race Lithuania set the pace to inch ahead of Ukraine. In the stroke seat of the Lithuanian double sat Rolandas Mascinskas. Mascinskas has had quite a full-on couple of years. Last year he took gold in the single at the Youth Olympic Games and then earlier this season he finished third at the Under-23 Rowing Championships, also in the single. Mascinskas then teamed up with Saulius Ritter to race at the World Rowing Championships and there the duo qualified their boat for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Today in the final, Mascinskas and Ritter settled into a 35 stroke rate rhythm through the middle of the race with strong challenges coming from Russia’s Artem Kosov and Dmitry Khmylnin and also Ukraine and Serbia. These four crews remained close together as the final 500m came into view. Lithuania still had the lead with Russia sitting in second and Ukraine in third. Then Serbia’s Marko Marjanovic and Dusan Bogicevic really poured on the pressure. In the last 100 metres of the race Serbia got their stroke rate to 45 putting both Ukraine and Russia into trouble.
At the line Lithuania held on to first, as the flying Serbian’s took second and Russia grabbed the bronze.
Results: LTU, SRB, RUS, UKR, GBR, ITA
Saulius Ritter (LTU) – Gold
“The rowing channel is very impressive and interesting, it’s different than other rowing lakes. I am very satisfied with my result.”
Marko Marjanovic (SRB) – Silver
“The competition was good. It went as we planned.”
Dusan Bogicevic (SRB) - Silver
“After the European Championships we are looking to qualify for the Olympics. We started rowing together a few months ago and we need to do a lot of training.”
Dmitry Khmylnin (RUS) – Bronze
“I don’t expect anything for the Olympics next year yet. I may change discipline.”
A false start by Israel delayed the start, with all crews getting off well in the second go. Estonia’s Sten-Erik Anderson and Kaur Kuslap got off the best and by the half way point the technically superior Anderson and Kuslap had moved out to a small lead over Austria. The high rating Austrians then slipped back off the pace leaving Anderson and Kuslap to take an open-water lead. At the line Estonia had earned a big five second lead over the next fastest boat, Belarus.
Results: EST, BLR, BUL, ISR, AUT, DEN
Men’s Four (M4-) – A-final
Coming into this final there was no doubting the class of the Greek crew. Stergios Papachristos, Ioannis Tsilis, Gerogios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou of Greece finished second at the 2011 World Rowing Championships earlier this month. Under the guidance of head coach Gianni Postiglione, the Greeks have established themselves as the crew to beat in a number of events. The men’s four is one of these. Last year at the European Championships Greece was second in this event with Papachristos and Tsilis in the boat.
Greece jumped out at the start and slowly, stroke by stroke moved away from the rest of the field. Behind them Belarus, Slovenia and Italy held a close battle before the tall Belarusian crew was able to break away. Greece, meanwhile remained easily in front with Belarus now the closest challenger. By the final sprint Greece, Belarus and Italy had well established themselves in their medal positions. The smooth, flowing Greeks crossed the line in first to become the 2011 European Champions.
Results: GRE, BLR, ITA, ESP, SLO, SRB
Ioannis Christou (GRE) – Gold
“We are very happy with our result. Now we are taking some rest for about a week and then starting hard training for the Olympics.”
Aliaksandr Kazubouski (BLR) - Silver
“We had a bad start, but during the race we rowed well and we are pleased with the final result. The water is very good and I enjoyed competing in Plovdiv.”
Andrea Palmisano (ITA) – Bronze
“Plovdiv is a nice city. We couldn’t go to The Night of Museums (a local event in Plovdiv) last night, because of our final race, but we visited the centre.”
Mario Paonessa (ITA) – Bronze
“The lake is good and everything is organised to a very high level.”
After breaking away from Ukraine, Great Britain (the Durant brothers, Gill and Tarrant) got out to more than a boat length’s lead and held it through the middle of the race. Poland then fought back in a huge sprint to the line, but Great Britain was able to hold them off and cross the line just under one second ahead.
Results: GBR, POL, CRO, UKR
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – A-final
Christina Giazitzidou (GRE) – Gold
“I am very happy that we won the gold medal. We’ve been training together for 3 years now and the results have started turning up. The rowing course is very nice, the weather is good and there is great organisation.”
Kathryn Twyman (GBR) - Silver
“We are looking forward to London in 2012 and we will keep our potential rolling into the Olympics. Today we are going for a tour around Plovdiv because we didn’t have the time yesterday as we were preparing for the competition.”
Laura Milani (ITA) – Bronze
“It was a hard race because the wind’s direction wasn’t in our favour. Despite this, we are pretty happy about our result.”
Elia Luini (ITA) – Gold
“We have been training very hard for two years and expected to have good results. We will leave early tomorrow and unfortunately will not have time to spare to look around Plovdiv, but it’s nice that we are in pretty town with a very nice base for rowing.”
Panagiotis Magdanis (GRE) – Silver
“We expected to win a medal because we knew all the crews and just tried to row faster. Actually, the biggest prize is the Olympics. And one day, who knows, we can win an Olympic medal.”
Pedro Fraga (POR) – Bronze
“All we want now is to have a rest after three world cups and these championships. We are very tired and need to recover. After this we will prepare for wins. We are happy, but always expecting more. It was a good performance.”
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – A-final
Coming through to this final the races have been not that close. This is unusual in the lightweight four which regularly sees tight finishes. Today’s final ended uncharacteristically spread out at the finish when Italy broke the field apart in the second half of the race.
At the start the Czech Republic got away the quickest. The Czech’s finished ninth at the World Rowing Championships while the favoured Italians were second. The Italians then pushed ahead of the Czechs and coming through the middle of the race the crowd witnessed Italy leading with the Czech Republic doing all that they could to hold on to the Italian’s pace. Italy, stroked by Daniele Danesin, then broke away and by the finish line they had a comfortable three second lead. The Czech’s crossed the line in second with Serbia, another three seconds back, taking the bronze medal.
Results: ITA, CZE, SRB, ESP, RUS, HUN
Marcelo Miani (ITA) – Gold
“We started to train together 3 months ago. And of course we are very satisfied with the result here. Now we need two weeks rest. The weather in Bulgaria is great. The lake is flat, wich is pretty good”
Ondrej Vetesnik (CZE) - Silver
“I am feeling fantastic and will rest quite well now. Although I did not get the first place now, like every competitor I am dreaming of being number one.”
Nemanja Nesic (SRB) – Bronze
“The competition was very tough and there were strong crews. You have to push hard and to do your best.”
Milos Stanojevic (SRB) – Bronze
“I am very pleased with the result. I expect to win more medals, but not now. Now it is time to rest.”
Portugal hosted this event last year and today their lightweight four raced in the B-final to easily beat Belarus to the line. This is the first time the Portuguese line up have raced together this season and they leave with a seventh place finish overall.
Results: POR, BLR
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – A-final
Earlier today Ukraine won the women’s double with their two top scullers who used to row in the quad. The quad has been reconstituted and they showed that they had the talent to defend their 2010 European Championship title. The crew of Svitlana Spiryukhova, Nataliia Huba, Tetiana Kolesnikova and Kateryna Tarasenko got off to a fast start and going through the middle of the race they had over a boat length lead on Poland in second.
It seemed like by the half way point the finishing order had been established with enough gaps between the boats that no one really wanted to challenge. This status quo gave Ukraine the gold at the line with Poland following in second and Romania in third. Sitting in the Romanian boat was Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu who, earlier in the day, won gold in the women’s pair.
Results: UKR, POL, ROU, ITA, RUS, FRA
Katarina Tarasenko (UKR) – Gold
“I have been rowing for 20 years. Im happy with this gold medal, but it’s not the best achievement for me. ”
Karolina Gniadek (POL) - Silver
“Everything in Plovdiv was perfect – good food, best weather, and most importantly – all was on time, the races and everything in the organisation aspect.”
Natalia Madaj (POL) - Silver
“I am happy with the result. And i like Plovdiv – it’s big city. But I prefer the cities by the sea. But in Plovdiv, there was fantastic weather and good competition.”
Cristina Ilie (ROU) – Bronze
“I am pleased with the result and I am very happy about the medal.”
Nicoleta Albu (ROU) – Bronze
“The town is very beautiful but we do not have any spare time for fun.”
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – A-final
Russia took off at the start and never looked back. Nikita Morgachev, Alexey Svirin, Igor Salov and Sergey Fedorovtsev of Russia were fifth at the World Rowing Championships which qualified them for the 2012 London Olympics. The Russians took gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics and they have been trying ever since to rebuild this level of boat again
The early pace of the Russians, however, opened up the question of whether they had gone out too hard at the start. By the half way point the Russians, on a steady 35 stroke rate, had built up a five second lead over the rest of the field which was tightly packed together in a virtual line. Despite Russia’s early fast pace, the crew remained ahead of the bunch. The Estonians then pushed up their stroke rate and gave it their all to challenge the Russians. Russia had enough to hold them off and cross the line in first. Estonia came through in second and Poland, featuring Olympic gold medallist, Konrad Wasielewski, finished third.
Results: RUS, EST, POL, ITA, UKR, CZE
Sergey Fedorowtsev (RUS) – Gold
“It is really great to win the medal. What is more, the season is over and we can rest completely now. We expected to get the first place as we were preparing for it.”
Allar Raja (EST) – Silver
“The organisation was good, but the races were bumpy. I’m very excited about the Olympics. We are looking forward to a medal and I think we are well-prepared.”
Piotr Licznerski (POL) – Bronze
“This is my first visit to Bulgaria and I really like it. The facilities are good and so is the water. It is very hot and we can row faster. ”
The Slovenian crew finished fifteenth overall at the World Rowing Championships in their home country earlier this month. The crew then had to turn around and prepare for the European Championships. In three seat the very experienced Jan Spik raced last year at the European Championships. Today the Slovenian’s ended up racing in the lead of the B-final over Serbia.
Results: SLO, SRB