In yesterday’s semifinals, the top five boats times were separated by just over a second. This was going to be one close race. Chile had finished seventh last year, Germany sixth, Italy’s stroke (Gabriel Soares) was in the under-23 champion boat and Ireland was eighth last year. Ireland went out at 54 strokes per minute. This crew of Jacob and Fintan McCarthy come from the same club as the O’Donovan brothers. But first to the 500m mark was Jonathan Schreiber and Julian Schneider of Germany with Spain following closely. Spain’s Manel Balastegui and Rodrigo Conde Romero went to 37 and overtook Germany. Schneider and Schreiber reacted and went to 40.

Conde and Balastegui now started to leave the field behind with only Germany within striking distance who now were having to contend with the reigning champions, Soares with new partner Alfonso Scalzonie. Soares and Scalzonie were now at 40 and flying. They had overtaken Germany and were closing on Spain. There was nothing in it at the line. Spain had won by just 0.37 of a second.


Manel Balastegui (b), Spain, gold
“At the start we went out hard and managed to take control of the race. At each point I shouted for more and we kept increasing the rating. Even at the red buoys I lost my oar, it flew out of my hand. This is really special.”

Gabriel Soares (s), Italy, silver
“Good race, we didn’t have a head start. Spain and Germany were really fast off the start but we were able to gain on them a little bit at a time. It was a good race and I owe a lot to my coach who is a world champion himself – Saucassani Franco.”

Julian Schneider (b), Germany, bronze
“We expected a close race and I think everyone had a shot at the medal. We had a really good first 500m out with the Spanish but then they just took off. Italy slowly gained on us little by little but we were able to hold off the other crews.”


The British had a great start. They only just missed out on making the a-final and they made the best of today’s race. This left a battle between Greece, Austria and Portugal and a close finish was expected. Great Britain held the lead.