Italian triumph at the 2012 European Rowing Championships
16/09/2012 - 11:15:00
It was perfect conditions for finals day at the 2012 European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy. Flat water with virtually no wind greeted the athletes, the temperature was warm and the sky overcast. Racing started out with the B-finals, which would rank crews seven to 12 in Europe.
Lithuania made it a double-header by winning both the men’s and women’s single sculls. Romania’s Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu made it a double header by medalling in both the women’s pair and the women’s quadruple sculls. Croatia’s men’s quad, split into the men’s double and men’s single medalled in both events and Italy finished the day with the highest count on the medals table.
Read on for more action at the European Rowing Championships.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Final
There was little doubt that the favourites in this race were the reigning and two-time European Champions, Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu of Romania. Lupascu and Albu won by a huge margin two days ago in the heats and they sat in the middle lane of the first final of the day. Already with just 250m rowed Lupascu and Albu looked like they were going to dominate this race. The rest of the field would have to fight for silver and Croatia’s Sonja Keserac and Maja Anic had the best chance of this as they came out in second place.
By the middle of the race Lupascu and Albu had an open-water lead. They come to Varese after racing to fourth in the women’s eight at the London Olympic Games. Keserac and Anic, who tried to qualify for London earlier this season, remained in second but with Great Britain moving on them strongly. Then Italy came charging through. Claudia Wurzel and Sara Bertolasi finished tenth in London and they are known for their very strong closing sprint.
At the line Lupascu and Albu had defended their European Championship title. This gives them the title for the third straight year. Great Britain’s Caragh McMurtry and Olivia Carnegie-Brown (this year’s silver medallists at the under-23 level) overtook Croatia to take second with the Croatians finishing in bronze medal position. Lupascu and Albu would race again later today in the A-final of the women’s quadruple sculls.
Results: ROU, GBR, CRO, ITA, UKR, TUR
Nicoleta Albu (ROU) – Gold
“We are really happy about his result. We have been training for years now and finally it has paid off.”
Olivia Carnegie-Brown (GBR) – Silver
“We are very happy about the result because the race was very competitive. Nevertheless I think we will still have enough energy for our race in the eight later this afternoon.”
Maja Anic (CRO) – Bronze
“Our race was good. We are happy with the result. We have been rowing together for four years now.”
Coming at the back of the field in yesterday’s repechage meant racing in today’s B-final for the Czech Republic and Belarus. Martina Stillerova and Katerina Kopecka of the Czech Republic finished fourth at this year’s World Rowing Under 23 Championships and they had a huge lead over Belarus for the entire 2000m. Rating 32 through the body of the race Stillerova and Kopecka finished a full 19 seconds in the lead.
Results: CZE, BLR
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Final
It was Denmark that had a very fast start, but they were not able to hold it and by the first 500m mark Tatsiana Kukhta and Katsiaryna Shliupskaya of Belarus were in the lead. Belarus had the fastest qualifying time from the heats two days ago and they continued to lead through the middle of the race. Kukhta and Shliupskaya finished third this year in the double at the under-23 level and they were being followed by Italy’s Giulia Pollini and Giada Colombo. Pollini won bronze at this year’s World Rowing Senior & Junior Championships in the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls.
Then Romania did a huge piece that brought them ahead of Italy and closer to the leading Belarusians. It was all on for the final sprint. The crowd was going wild as Pollini and Colombo took up their rating and gave it their all to get back into second. At the line Kukhta and Shliupskaya had become the European Champions and, much to the crowd’s delight, the Italians had finished second with Romania’s Maria Diana Bursuc and Adelina Cojocariu earning bronze. The Belarusians would also be racing in the women’s eight A-final a couple hours later.
Results: BLR, ITA, ROU, ESP, DEN, POL
Katsiaryna Shliupskaya (BLR) – Gold
“I’m really happy because last year I came second andthis year I won! That is great!”
Giulia Pollini (ITA) – Silver
“We didn’t expect this result! These are our first Championships together. We are normally in different categories – I used to row as lightweight.”
Ukraine’s Anna Kravchenko and Olena Buryak just missed out on making the final in yesterday’s repechage and coming the Varese directly from finishing tenth at the London Olympics showed their class. Today Kravchenko and Buryak led the way through the middle of the race and into the final sprint. But in an amazingly close finish, Hungary’s Katalin Szabo and Krisztina Gyimes pipped the Ukrainians at the line.
Results: HUN, UKR, GER, GRE
Men’s Four (M4-) – Final
Greece had a really good heat two days ago to earn a spot in today’s final and the line-up included Nikolaos and Apostolos Gkountoulas, Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou. Greece are the reigning European Champions and they got away very quickly in this final. But by the half-way point Romania had earned an incredibly tiny lead over Greece. The Romanians finished twelfth at the London Olympics. They finished second to Greece in the heats.
Romania continued to lead coming into the final sprint with Serbia now threatening Greece’s second place spot. The margins were close and the ratings were rising as these six crews sprinted for the line. With 250m left to row the Greeks gave it their all. Romania tried to hold on with Serbia giving it their all. At the line Greece had defended their European Championship title with Romania settling for silver and Serbia earning the bronze.
Results: GRE, ROU, SRB, ESP, BLR, FRA
Nikolas Gkountoulas (GRE) – Gold
“In London we rowed in the pair (with brother Apostolas) so this is the first time we have rowed together in this combination."
Florin Curuea (ROU) – Silver
“We are happy with the result. For me these are the first European Champs, the others from my team have rowed on ECH before. It was actually nice to row again against the Greeks since we raced each other at the Olympics in London.”
Slovenia got off to a good start but margins were close as these five boats headed for the half-way point. Slovenia kept the pressure on, doing two big pushes before the middle of the race to get a two-second lead over Croatia in second, with the rest of the field forming a virtual line. Slovenia pushed on, leaving Croatia to try and attack from second. At the line Slovenia had nicely held on to first.
Results: SLO, CRO, ITA, TUR, NED
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Final
The Netherlands and Spain won their respective heats two days ago and at the start Rogier Blink and Mitchel Steenman of the Netherlands had the best start. Blink and Steenman finished fifth at the London Olympics in the eight and they were considered somewhat the favourites coming into this event. Spain followed the Dutch in second with Great Britain really close to the Spanish. Spain’s Alexander Sigurbjonsson Benet and Pau Vela Maggi, who just missed out on qualifying for the Olympics earlier this year, kept their stroke rate high and managed to move a little away from Great Britain with Blink and Steenman still in the lead.
As the last 500m came into view Blink and Steenman remained the ones to beat with Sigurbjonsson Benet and Vela Maggi now under threat from Serbia’s Nenad Bedik and Nikola Stojic. The Spanish fought hard and at the line had held on to silver with the Dutch getting gold.
Results: NED, ESP, SRB, GBR, POL, HUN
Mitchel Steenman (M2-) – NED – Gold
"London was a nice experience it was great to win here straight after it. This is a nice end to the season. I don’t know if we will continue rowing the pair but why not!”
Pau Vela Maggi (M2-) – ESP – Silver
"The race was really tough, but this is a great result. Actually this is the best result we have ever reached!"
Nikola Stojic (M2-) – SRB – Bronze
"The race was hard. After the first half we tried to give everything but we were pretty tired from the race yesterday."
Greece and Italy took off together at the head of the field matching each other through the first half of the race. Yesterday these two crews had raced in the same repechage with Italy getting the better of Greece at the line. Today, Greece’s crew of Konstantinos Christomoanos and Apostolos Lampridis looked to be exacting revenge. But by the middle of the race Giuseppe De Vita and Andrea Palmisano of Italy had earned the lead leaving Greece to deal with the charging Ukraine and Russia.
Once in the lead De Vita and Palmisano moved away from the rest of the field and at the finish they had won by a full four seconds over Greece who had held on to second.
Results: ITA, GRE, UKR, RUS, BUL
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Final
This race was full of talent with four athletes that took silver at the London Olympic Games racing here – Italy in the double and Croatia in the quadruple sculls. At the start brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia had the lead with Poland’s Konrad Wasielewski and Wiktor Chabel sitting in second while Italy’s Alessio Sartori and Romano Battisti sat back in fourth.
The Sinkovic brothers were still in the lead coming into the final sprint with Sartori and Battisti moving through and passing Poland to get into second with Norway’s Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch now in third. Hoff and Borch raced at the London Olympics where they finished seventh and they are known for their very fast finish.
The crowd was now urging in Sartori and Battisti as the last 250m came into view. Could Croatia hold them off? The pace was aggressive and the stroke rates were high. At the line Croatia had done it – they had become European Champions in the double. Italy held on to the silver and Norway took bronze.
Results: CRO, ITA, NOR, LTU, SRB, POL
Martin SINKOVIC (M2x) – CRO – Gold
"For us it’s perfect to row together as brothers. We know each other and we understand each other. If there is a problem the other understands it immediately."
Romano Battisti (M2x) – ITA – Silver
"We didn’t expect to come second. We have given 100% all the way through. Alessio and I have shared so much joy and so much pain together. The level in Europe has increased quiet a lot. It feels more like rowing at World Champs than at European Champs."
Kjetil Borch (M2x) – NOR – Bronze
"Our competition were good but we kept our start long .We go straight to the Norwegian National Championships next weekend so we don’t really have any break."
From yesterday’s semifinal this race pointed to Ukraine being the fastest crew. But it was Russia that had the lead at the start with Ukraine slipping to third by the half-way point. Russia continued to press on as the Czech Republic seemed to try and get into the lead. The margins between the entire field then closed up and with 500m left to race the top four boats had just one and a half seconds separating them.
In a huge sprint to the finish Russia’s Dmitry Khmylnin and Denis Pribyl managed to just hold on to first in a photo finish with Ukraine.
Results: RUS, UKR, EST, BEL, CZE, FRA
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Final
The Italians Laura Milani and Elisabetta Sancassani had a great race two days ago in the heats and recorded the fastest time. This made this new Italian combination the favourites for today. But it was Greece’s Christina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou that got out to an early lead. Giazitzidou and Tsiavou won bronze at the London Olympics and then Tsiavou went on to become a World Champion yet again in the lightweight women’s single sculls at the World Rowing Senior & Junior Championships last month.
As the half-way point came into view Greece had managed to pull away to a full boat length lead with Italy now in second having overtaken Poland after a huge 36 stroke rate piece. Greece saw this attack and took their stroke rate up a pip in case the Italians got any closer. But Milani and former heavyweight rower Sancassani had more to give as they closed in on the Greeks. The crowd was brought to their feet as Milani and Sancassani took their stroke rate to 39 to move in on Greece.
At the line Milani and Sancassani had done it. They had won gold. Greece had to settle for silver with Ruth Walczak and Imogen Walsh earning bronze.
Results: ITA, GRE, GBR, POL, BLR, AUT
Elisabetta Sancassani (LW2x) – ITA – Gold
"We knew that Greece would be very strong but during the last 1000 meters we just accelerated the pace as much as we could. Laura and I have a nice friendship so we hope we can row together in the future.I dedicate this (win) to my dad who passed away in November."
Alexandra TSIAVOU (LW2x) – GRE – Silver
"Awesome result, especially after the great result in Plovdiv. This season has been pretty successful."
Imogen Walsh (LW2x) – GBR – Bronze
"These are our first European Champs. We are already in preparation for the next season so we hope we will row at the next upcoming event."
Russia was easily the fastest of these three crews in yesterday’s repechage and they led today building up to an open-water lead by the half-way point. Olga Arkadova and Natalia Varfolomeeva of Russia were fourth at last year’s European Rowing Championships and they must be disappointed to be racing the B-final today. But they made the best of it and raced their own race at the head of the field. Russia had nearly a 20-second lead at the finish over Israel in second.
Results: RUS, ISR, UKR
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Final
Portugal’s Pedro Fraga and Nuno Mendes have been looking great throughout this regatta. The London Olympic fifth place finishers won their heat two days ago and then won their semifinal yesterday. But in the semi, Portugal was only slightly ahead of Greece and today Greece’s Pangiotis Magdanis and Spyridon Giannaros had the lead at the start with Great Britain following very closely in second.
Fraga and Mendes then made a move, overtaking Great Britain and closing in on Greece. The margins between the entire field were slim however and at the half-way point only two and a half seconds separated the entire six-boat fleet. Greece then did a piece going through the 1,250m mark and managed to move just a little away from Portugal. Both Greece and Portugal have very good sprints and the race, with 500m to go, would no doubt be spectacular.
At the line Greece had just held off Portugal with Great Britain inching into bronze just 7/100th of a second ahead of Austria.
Results: GRE, POR, GBR, AUT, FRA, UKR
Panagiotis Magdanis (LM2x) – GRE – Gold
"The race was good and we are happy about the medal."
Slovakia finished as the slowest crew in yesterday’s semifinal. They must have been saving themselves for today as Richard Vanco and Lukas Babac of Slovakia shot out into the lead at the start. But margins were close and going through the middle of the race there were only two seconds between the top five boats. Slovakia, who tried to qualify for the London Olympics earlier this year, held a small leading margin over Poland in second.
Coming into the last 500m of the race the tightness had not changed and only one and a half seconds separated the top five boats with Bulgaria charging through into second. Stroke rates were rising and at the line Zlatko Karaivanov and Vassil Vitanov of Bulgaria had won in a photo finish with Slovakia.
Results: BUL, SVK, GER, POL, RUS, ITA
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) Final
A storming start by Great Britain propelled them to the first 500m marker ahead of the field. This was unexpected as the fastest boat from Friday’s heat was Italy with Great Britain having to qualify for the final through yesterday’s repechage. At the half-way point Great Britain still had the lead with Italy trying to close in.
The Italian line-up included the World Champion lightweight men’s pair, a London Olympian and a 2012 under-23 champion. Italy won this event last year at the European Championships. In the third 500m Italy upped their stroke rate and overtook the British with Poland sitting in third. But Great Britain had not given up. As Italy took their stroke rate to 41, Great Britain upped theirs to 39 and held on.
Meanwhile, Serbia was giving it their all to get into the medals. As the crowd cheered on Italy to a gold medal win, Serbia sprinted past Poland to take the bronze with Great Britain retaining silver.
Results: ITA, GBR, SRB, POL, GER, RUS
Luca de Maria (LM4-) – ITA – Gold
"We haven’t rowed together before so this is our first competition in this combination. But we got a good feeling (in the boat) straight away."
Sam Scrimgeour (LM4-) – GBR – Silver
"This is my first medal after a while so it feels good."
Nikola Selakovic (LM4-) – SRB – Bronze
"This is my first European Championships. I am only 17 years old. The result is excellent!"
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Final
The London Olympic fourth-place finishers, Estonia looked to be the classy boat in this event. They scored the fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s semifinals. And it was Estonia – Jamsa, Raja, Endrekson and Taimsoo – who had the early lead. Slovenia had also been having a great regatta here in Varese and they slotted into second.
Through the middle of the race Estonia cleared a boat length’s lead over Slovenia who remained in second with Russia pressing hard to get up to Slovenia. Slovenia is a mixture crew and includes Jernej Markovc who last month won world silver in the junior men’s single sculls.
As the final sprint came into view, Estonia had worked to an open-water lead with Slovenia still clinging on to second over Russia. Unfortunately for the Italian crowd, Italy was at the back of the field in sixth. At the line Estonia had finished their 2012 season with a European Championship gold medal. Ukraine came storming through to snatch the silver off Slovenia. Slovenia had to be satisfied with bronze.
Results: EST, UKR, SLO, RUS, CZE, ITA
Kaspar Taimsoo (M4x) – EST – Gold
"We won and it is pretty satisfying to, especially after our fourth place finish in London. The (weather) conditions here in Varese are perfect today, this is a very good course to row on."
Jernej Markovic (M4x) – SLO – Silver
"It was a tough race and the other crews were very strong. It’s great to have this medal, aswe have been training together only for three weeks.
It was extremely tight through the first half of the race with Great Britain holding an ever-so-small margin in the lead. Great Britain was the fastest of these crews from yesterday’s semifinals and they continued to lead coming into the final sprint. But Romania was very close and these boats were going to have to give it their all in the last 400m. In an incredibly close finish Great Britain had managed to retain the lead with Romania and Poland practically crossing the line together.
Results: GBR, ROU, POL, DEN, FRA, AUT
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Final
After yesterday’s semifinals this event looked like it was going to be a battle between the reigning European Champion Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania and Belgium’s Olympian Tim Maeyens. Griskonis got off to a very good start while Maeyens was left at the back of the field. Maeyens is known for his ability to come back from behind so this position was no surprise.
Georgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria settled into second behind Griskonis while Griskonis increased his leading position to a solid boat length. Maeyens, meanwhile, had worked his way into fourth and was continuing to move on the field. Croatia’s Damir Martin, directly from a silver medal in London in the quad, had now moved into a medal position overtaking Great Britain and then Bulgaria to be in second. Griskonis still had a very handy lead leaving a real fight on for the lesser medals.
In the sprint to the line Griskonis finished off a classy race by successfully defending his European Champion title, but only with a very slight margin over Martin who came storming through to finish just 7/100th of a second behind Griskonis. Bozhilov held on to third to take the bronze medal, a big improvement on his seventh place finish a year ago.
Results: LTU, CRO, BUL, GBR, BEL, HUN
Mindaugas Griskonis (M1x) – LTU – Gold
"This race was very hard - the other rowers were just so strong. I’m really glad that I earned the gold medal."
Damir Martin (M1x) – CRO – Silver
"This race was very hard and exhausting. We (the first three boats) were all so close together. The last 200 meters were very competitive."
Georgi Bozhilov (M1x) – BUL – Bronze
"I’m really relieved. The second half of the race was much better than the first!"
Switzerland had the fastest time of this group from yesterday’s semifinals but it was Israel who had the early lead in this B-final. By the first 500m mark, though, Andraz Krek of Slovenia had managed to get into the lead. Then the 2012 junior champion in the single, Michal Plocek, 18, of the Czech Republic pushed ahead and led the field through the middle of the race. Plocek, rating 29 and using long, strong strokes still held the lead. But with 250m left to row Krek pushed back and got in front. But Plocek had more to give and regained the lead with Israel’s Dani Fridman charging through to grab second.
Results: CZE, ISR, SLO, SUI, SVK, LAT
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Final
Coming through to this final Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania was looking in a very good position with the fastest qualifying time from yesterday’s semifinals. Vistartaite also had the best finishing result from the 2012 Olympic Games of all of the boats in this A-final, having finished in eighth place in London. Vistartaite got off the line quickly and reached the first 500m marker in first. Estonia’s Kaisa Pajusalu followed in second. This leading order did not change coming into the half-way point with Vistartaite extending her lead slightly over Pajusalu.
Pajusalu tried to qualify for the London Olympics earlier this year at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, and is now here in Varese aiming for a medal. Serbia’s Iva Obradovic, who had also attempted to qualify for the London Olympics, was now in third and challenging for second place.
At the line Vistartaite had won the European Championship title and made it a double header for Lithuania with a win in both the women’s and men’s single sculls. Obradovic had sprinted past Pajusalu to take second and Pajusalu earned the bronze medal.
Results: LTU, SRB, EST, RUS, NOR, BUL
Donata Vistartaite (W1x) – LTU – Gold
"The race was difficult and tough. I didn’t expect to win it."
Iva Obradovic (W1x) – SRB – Silver
"I’m happy; it’s always great to win a medal. Also it’s my second European medal. The other rowers were really strong which makes me appreciate it even more."
Kaisa Pajusalu (W1x) – EST – Bronze
“I didn’t qualify for London so this medal is a nice end to the season.”
The 2012 under-23 World Champion Julia Lier of Germany faded in yesterday’s semifinal and thus today raced in the B-final. Lier took off at the head of the field but by the middle of the race Italy’s Laura Schiavone had moved up and into the lead. Schiavone has spent most of her international career in the double and at last year’s European Championships, Schiavone finished fourth in the double.
Schiavone continued to lead as these boats came into the final sprint with Latvia’s Elza Gulbe being the closest challenger. Schiavone, however, hung onto the lead to finish seventh overall at these European Rowing Championships.
Results: ITA, LAT, UKR, GER, FIN, DEN
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) - Final
In the heats two days ago Poland and Ukraine each won their respective heats but in almost identical times. This race could well turn into a Polish – Ukrainian tussle. But it was Austria that burst out at the start. Could they maintain this pace? Then Romania moved up, but by the first 500m marker Ukraine, the Olympic and European Champions, had worked their way into the lead. This Ukrainian boat is only one person different from the Olympic boat and their lead moved to a couple of seconds over Poland and Romania.
In the Romanian boat were Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu who had already raced earlier today when they won the women’s pair in a dominating fashion. Ukraine, rating 34, remained in the lead as the final 500m came into view. Ukraine continued to push home with Poland, Romania and now Russia doing battle for the lesser medals. At the line Ukraine had successfully defended their European Championship title with Poland (who were eighth at the London Olympics) in the silver position and Romania earning the bronze.
Results: UKR, POL, ROU, RUS, AUT, NED
Nataliya Dovgodko (W4x) – UKR – Gold
"This is great. We probably won't take a proper training break but we might take it a bit easy in the next weeks though!"
Ionelia Zaharia (W4x) – ROU – Bronze
"We have been rowing together for many years now. We stuck to our race plan and it worked. We are happy about the result."
The French crew included three crew members that raced in the A-final at last year’s European Rowing Championships but today they contended the B-final as the fastest boat of these crews from yesterday’s repechage. Through the first half of the race France held the lead over Sweden who was chasing hard. These two countries went head to head right to the line. France won but by a very slim margin over Sweden.
Results: FRA, SWE, ITA
Women's Eight (W8+) - Final
The preliminary race two days ago had the reigning European Champions Romania win handily. Could any crews move on the Romanians today? Romania has won at every European Rowing Championships since the regatta was re-installed in 2007. Coxed by Talida-Teodora Gidoiu and including the great multi-Olympic Champions Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu, Romania already had the clear lead with 200m rowed. Ukraine followed in second with Belarus matching Ukraine, but back a bit in third.
At the half-way point Romania had gained an open-water lead with the rest of the crews fighting it out for the lesser medals. And what a fight it was. At the half-way point only three seconds separated these five boats.
Coming through to the final sprint Romania would have to have a disaster not to win. Belarus had now pushed past Ukraine and so had Italy. The crowd was going wild. If Italy was to win a medal at Varese it would be historic. As Romania crossed the line in first, Italy pushed hard and got themselves into the silver medal position. The home crowd advantage could not be doubted here. Just as remarkable was Great Britain who had pushed back from fifth place to take the bronze medal.
Results: ROU, ITA, GBR, BLR, UKR, RUS
Irina Dorneanu (W8+) – ROU – Gold
“This was our last race in this year so we wanted to give our best. We have been rowing together (in this combination) only for one month."
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Final
As is the tradition, the final race of this regatta was the men’s eight. The defending European Champions Poland were the favourites after recording the fastest qualifying time two days ago in the heats. As expected Poland got away quickly and had built up a handy lead by the half-way point.
Meanwhile a huge battle was going on for second with the five crews behind them, including Italy, spaced by less than two seconds. Great Britain had a slight edge but there was room for anyone to attack. Then in the third 500m Italy did a huge piece that brought them up close to Great Britain and also closed the gap on Poland.
As Poland crossed the line in first to successfully defend their European Championship title, Italy gave it their all to the line. They had taken the silver medal. What a way to end this regatta for Italy. The Czech Republic had earned the bronze medal.
Results: POL, ITA, CZE, UKR, GBR, ROU
Pierpaolo Frattini (M8+) – ITA – Silver
"We worked hard in our preparation for this competition. We all were focused on the medal. I’m from Varese so I couldn’t imagine anything better than winning on my home course."