Junior rowers face semifinal showdown in Hamburg
The 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany moved on to the semifinal stage as crews aimed to make through to Sunday's final.
Racing was brought forward as thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day. But for these mid-morning races the water was calm with just a smidgen of a ripple and the sun peeked through the clouds that had seen rain earlier in the day. The big crowd of spectators were bundled up wearing ponchos in expectation of more rain. For now it was fine.
Junior Women’s Four (JW4-) – Semifinals
Germany came out all guns firing for this first semifinal of the day, Semifinal One of the women's four. They led through the middle of the race by nearly a boat length over China and France. Then the Chinese did a piece that propelled them into the lead. China had won their heat two days ago and they conducted a very well-paced race to keep in front at the finish line. It also gave the Chinese the fastest qualifying time going into the final and a middle lane.
In the heats the United States recorded the fastest qualifying time by a handy margin. Today they raced at the head of the field of Semifinal Two. The United States are the defending Junior World Champions and they were showing their form today. Italy followed in second, but did not seem to be able to close the early gap that the United States had formed. Italy won the European Junior Championships in this event, but have changed the majority of the crew for this regatta.
In the final sprint the United States looked comfortable and strong in the lead with an increased gap over Italy who qualified from second with Belarus taking the final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: CHN, GER, FRA, USA, ITA, BLR
Junior Men’s Pair (JM2-) – Semifinal
The Junior World Champions, Germany, got a very small margin at the start of Semifinal One with Austria and France chasing hard. The Romanians then picked the pace and got their boat in front. Once in front they remained in control with Germany then getting overtaken by Austria. Austria was one of the slower times coming through from yesterday's quarterfinals, but they were making a great race of it today. At the line Romania remained in front with Austria in a very strong challenging position in second and Germany a distance back in third. Romania recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Medallists from this year's European Junior Championships, the Czech Republic led the way in Semifinal Two. They got out to a great start to have nearly a full boat length lead with just 500m rowed. Then Greece, who had recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday's quarterfinals , started to move on the Czech's with South Africa very much on the pace.
The Czech's, who finished fifth in this event last year, then worked on keeping a gap between them and the fight that had formed between Greece and South Africa. At the line South Africa had got the better of the battle and came through in second just one second behind the Czechs. Greece qualified from third.
Qualifiers: ROU, AUT, GER, CZE, RSA, GRE
Junior Men’s Four (JM4-) – Semifinal
Spain had the edge at the start of Semifinal One but margins were close and there was still 1500m of racing to go and they were up against the Junior World Champions, Romania with the very experienced Sergiu-Vasile Bejan in stroke seat. With half the race rowed Spain still had the edge, but only a little over a fierce race going on between Romania and Greece. The Greek's finished fourth last year and they had come through to this semifinal by racing in yesterday's repechage. This fight helped bring Romania in front of Spain with Greece not far off. Romania finished first while a very close finish between Greece and Spain gave Spain the second spot.
Semifinal Two featured the fastest qualifiers from the heats, Germany. The Germans raced in the B-final last year and they were looking to change that position this year. By the middle of the race the Germans had a big lead over Italy in second with Croatia moving on Italy. Then the United States moved up and got their nose ahead of Croatia and into a qualifying spot. But a crab in the US boat with just 250m left to row had the Americans slip back. The Germans crossed the line first with the fastest qualifying time followed by Croatia and Italy.
Qualifiers: ROU, ESP, GRE, GER, CRO, ITA
Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls (JW4x) – Semifinals
The Italians are the reigning Junior World Champions and they also took silver at this year's European Rowing Junior Championships. They featured in Semifinal One. But it was Great Britain and Germany leading the field at the start with Italy in third. The battle between Great Britain and Germany remained incredibly tight as the two crews went stroke for stroke through the middle of the race.
The Netherlands then picked it up pushing Italy out of a qualifying spot with Germany (last year's bronze medallists) now getting a very slight edge over Great Britain. In the final sprint Germany managed to get away from Great Britain with the British holding on to second over the Netherlands in third. At the line Germany recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Something must have happed to the United States crew coming out of the start in Semifinal Two as they seemed to be out of the race. This left five boats to go for the three qualifying spots. It was New Zealand that seized the chance and took off in the lead. This lead, however, didn't last long as China came powering through. The Chinese recorded the fastest qualifying time after the heats on Thursday and they were timing their race very well. The Chinese then moved clean away from the rest of the field with Romania now moving into second ahead of New Zealand. Both Romania and New Zealand raced in the A-final in 2013 but neither of them medalled. At the line China had an easy win with Romania finishing ahead of New Zealand.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR, NED, CHN, ROU, NZL
Junior Men’s Quadruple Sculls (JM4x) – Semifinals
Junior World Champions, Germany led the way in Semifinal One. The Germans recorded the fastest qualifying time from yesterday's quarterfinals and they were hoping to send out a message to all of their competitors. Following Germany was a close race between all five other crews with the Dutch and Croatia only just in the remaining qualifying spots. As the Germans continued to move away from the rest of the field, New Zealand then did a big push that got them ahead of Croatia and the Netherlands. In the sprint to the line Croatia had run out of steam leaving a battle between New Zealand and the Dutch. The Kiwis got to the line first with both boats qualifying. Germany had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
At the start of Semifinal Two, Great Britain had the edge. The British finished tenth in this boat class last year and in yesterday's quarterfinals they had scored the second fastest qualifying time. Then Slovenia did a big push and got their nose ahead of the British. The British, however, were not giving up and got their nose just ahead of Slovenia. This ding dong battle continued into the final sprint. Meanwhile Romania was moving up on the two leading crews. At the line Great Britain proved to have the best sprint with Slovenia and Romania holding on to second and third respectively.
Qualifiers: GER, NZL, NED, GBR, SLO, ROU
Junior Men’s Double Sculls (JM2x) – Semifinals
At the start of Semifinal One, Lithuania had the edge. Dovydas Nemeravicius and Armandas Kelmelis of Lithuania got away to a small margin over Greece. Going through the middle 1000m, Lithuania remained in front, but only with a small margin over Greece with Australia pressing hard. Nemeravicius and Kelmelis looked like they were timing this race well, keeping just the right margin over Greece to keep them in check. The Greeks, however, were having to watch out for Australia with every stroke. In the final sprint the Lithuanians held on to first while Australia managed to push ahead of Greece.
The quarterfinals had seen Germany record the fastest time and they lined up in Semifinal Two. Germany hold the current Junior World Champion title and they took off in the lead, building up a very good margin by the middle of the race. Philipp Syring and Max Appel of Germany were able to row comfortably for the second half of the race while Italy followed back in second. At the finish the big sprint was between Poland and Turkey with the Turks getting the better of it to qualify for the final. Germany recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: LTU, AUS, GRE, GER, ITA, TUR
Junior Women’s Double Sculls (JW2x) – Semifinals
Romania had the fastest time from the heats two days ago and they lined up in Semifinal One. They took off in the lead leaving Greece to follow in second. The Romanian crew of Elena Logofatu and Nicoleta Pascanu are the same crew that took this boat class to gold last year and they are back this year to defend their title. By the middle of the race the Romanians looked pretty comfortable with Greece continuing to hold on to second over Italy in third. Greece and Italy both raced in the A-final last year and this year Italy had to get to the semifinal through the repechage. At the line Romania remained out in front with Greece and Italy keeping their order with no real other challengers emerging. Romania's time of 7:27 was the fastest qualifying time.
Semifinal Two saw a dominant performance from Germany's Tima Christmann and Franziska Kampmann. This German duo had to get to the semifinal through the repechage, but it didn't seem to have done them any harm. By the 1000m mark the Germans had more than a boat length lead over Hungary in second and Australia in third. Then in the third 500m, Australia began to fade with South Africa moving up through the field. The South Africans then challenged Hungary, but Christmann and Kampmann were now so far in front that it seemed unlikely that any challenge would have any impact on the leaders.
In the sprint to the line Hungary was under threat from Ukraine and South Africa, but managed to hold both of them off.
Qualifiers: ROU, GRE, ITA, GER, HUN, UKR
Junior Men's Single Sculls (JM1x) - Semifinals
Yesterday's quarterfinals had seen the fastest qualifying time going to Tim Ole Naske of Germany. Ole Naske raced in Semifinal One. But at the start it was Tunisia's Mohamed Taieb in the lead. Ole Naske must have been unfazed and by the middle of the race the German had the lead. But then Daniel De Groot of Canada decided to move in on the action. De Groot gave it his all and got his boat ahead of Ole Naske. Ole Naske did not like this and fought back. It was turning into a huge battle to the line. It must have been all about pride as both of these scullers were in qualifying positions and far ahead of the rest of the field. At the line Ole Naske had gotten there first by less than half a second. De Groot took second and Russia's Andrey Potapkin came through in third. Ole Naske had the fastest qualifying time out of the two semifinals.
South Africa's Daniel Watkins had the lead at the start of Semifinal Two. Watkins raced in the junior quad last year getting into the A-final in that event. But margins were tight and only one second separated the top four boats. This tight margin remained into the middle of the race with Benjamin Davison of the United States the closest challenger for the lead. France then slipped back leaving the battle of the sprint to go on between Watkins, Davison and Jacob Blankenberger of Switzerland. All three boats gave it their best with Watkins getting to the line in first, but only just.
Qualifers: GER, CAN, RUS, RSA, USA, SUI
Junior Women's Single Sculls (JW1x) - Semifinals
This boat class began with 33 countries entered and it was now down to the final 12. From the quarterfinals, Germany's Melanie Goeldner recorded the fastest qualifying time and she came off the blocks in second in Semifinal One. Instead, it was Greece's Sofia Asoumanaki in the lead. By the middle of the race Asoumanaki still had the leading margin over Germany with Bulgaria also very much on the pace. The order did not change through the second half of the race with Asoumanaki continuing to lead. It looked as though neither Goeldner, nor Desislava Georgieva of Bulgaria were willing to challenge for the lead and the order remained the same as these rowers decided to save themselves for tomorrow's final. Asoukanaki recorded the fastest qualifying time by a good margin.
The lead was controlled by Camille Juillet of France in Semifinal Two. Juillet took the lead and by the middle of the race had open water over Meijia Zhang of China who moved into second. Juillet raced in the double last year and is one of the more experienced rowers in this race. Then Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands came up to challenge Zhang. Keijser had the second fastest qualifying time in yesterday's quarterfinals and her finishing sprint is becoming well-known. Keijser had started to close on Juillet, but Juillet was ready and held off the Dutch sculler. Meanwhile Zhang was giving it her all to stay ahead of a flying Croatia. Lucky for Zhang, Teuta Stojakovic of Croatia had left her sprint too late. Zhang qualified for the final along with Juillet and Keijser.
Qualifiers: GRE, GER, BUL, FRA, NED, CHN