Is this it? The men’s pair final
Rowing rivalries don’t come much better than this. Much has been made of it, and for good reason. It is one that has spanned the last two years and the current score of wins against losses between the two is a weighty 9-0 from international events.
Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand have reigned supreme in the men’s pair. Though the current score does not suggest much competition, expectant crowds frequently witness recurrent never-say-die challenges from the British, Andrew Triggs-Hodge and Peter Reed. Though the margins they are beaten by may vary wildly, from 0.32s to seven seconds, the response of the British pair remains the same.
“We may be beaten but we are not dead yet”.
And so, Hodge and Reed try again.
The men’s pair is as hotly anticipated at the 2011 World Rowing Championships currently being held in Bled, Slovenia, as it was last year where, on home water, the New Zealand pair sprinted home to victory by just 0.32s over the British in one of the most exciting races of the Championships at Lake Karapiro. This year, the stakes have been raised significantly by New Zealand. In Lucerne, Switzerland for the final meet of the Samsung World Rowing Cup series, the first time these two boats had met this season, New Zealand stormed home seven seconds clear. This was a message to the British that the standard had been raised and they had to step it up.
Yet this rivalry is not just reserved for pairs racing. The four men have been racing each other since 2005 in the men’s four, where the tables were turned and the British were on top of the podium. At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Great Britain was the Olympic Champions, and Murray and Bond had to settle for seventh.
Coming in to the final, both pairs have won their heats and their semifinals by clear water. No other boat has been able to replicate the intense pace of racing when these two boats face each other. It is a two-boat race. A battle for bronze involves the Canadian pair of Scott Frandsen and Dave Calder and the Italians, Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini, with Germany’s Maximillian Munski and Felix Drahotta and the Greek Gkountoulas brothers on the periphery.
In the heats, Great Britain posted the fastest time and in the semifinals, New Zealand were two seconds clear, both boats seemingly cruising to the line; relaxed, in control and saving energy for the final, which will be held just 24-hours after the penultimate stage of racing.
Much has been made in the British press on the selection in the Great British heavyweight men’s squad. Hodge and Reed are the two fastest sweep rowers and if they are in a boat which continuously comes second, the logical conclusion may be to put them into the men’s four. If this is indeed on the mind of coach Juergen Grobler and tomorrow’s result follows the pattern established by the supreme Kiwis, this could be the very last time we will see these two pairs racing against each other.
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