Lightweight men's double - finding the edge
Looking for a nail-biter of a World Rowing Championship final?
Look no further than the lightweight men’s double sculls. This boat class brings together some of the most finely-tuned, technically efficient athletes in the sport to race at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, Korea.
With an average weight of 70kg, the men of the lightweight double need to dig deep to come out the right side of the notoriously close finishes this category has become known for.
Although the event has lost many of the crews that dominated the top end up until London 2012, in this post-Olympic year the lightweight men’s double has lost none of its sparkle. The Danish Olympic Champions have taken an indefinite break from the sport, Great Britain’s Mark Hunter recently announced his retirement and New Zealand’s Peter Taylor has found a new home in the lightweight four. These changes have opened the door for new combinations to shine.
Richard and Peter Chambers of Great Britain have already achieved a lot. In August 2012 they rowed to Olympic silver in the lightweight men’s four and from this experience they are certainly used to closely fought battles. The lightweight double is a boat that is tricky to master and despite the benefit of being so physiologically similar, the speed they now display has taken a lot of work. The season "has had its ups and downs, to be honest. We always knew it would. But it's coming together nicely," says Peter.
It seems that it has become quite the 2013 trend to come to the double from the four. Switzerland’s Simon Schuerch and Mario Gyr lined up against the Chambers brother in the London Olympic lightweight four final where they finished fifth. In 2013 this four split into a lightweight pair and it was Schuerch and Gyr who took up the two double seats. They opened the season with an impressive first showing at the European Rowing Championships in Seville where they stood on the podium to take bronze. Winning their semifinal in Chungju sets them up nicely for the final as it means they will be poised in one of the center lanes.
After Norway’s Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli finished in ninth place at the London Games, they made a decision to go for the top. Brun and Stranlisaw an opening for new leaders in this boat class and, after looking closely at what another four years in the boat would mean, set their sights on stepping into that role for the Rio Olympics. Silver at the European Championships showed that their efforts had paid dividends. Injury in Lucerne set the plan back a notch but here in Chungju they look to be on top form. “Our semifinal went to plan. It would have been nice to win, but medals aren’t won in the semis,” Strandli comments.
Brun and Strandli are prepared for a tooth and nail battle in today’s equally matched final. “The difference is all in your mind set,” says Brun. “Being calm and trusting in ourselves is what has made the difference for us this year.”
Germany will line up in lane one today and the duo of Konstantin Steinhuebel and Lars Hartig look to be a crew in the early stages of a very successful Olympic campaign. Steinhuebel is fresh from the under-23 level while Hartig already has an Olympic final in the double (sixth in 2012) to his name. From their Hamburg training base the boat has been gelling well and their performances at this World Championship regatta has got them into the A-final.
The lightweight double doesn’t have a long legacy in German men’s rowing so Steinhubel and Hartig rely very much on using every training session and every race as a future lesson. “We have no role models so we have to find our own way,” Steinhubel says. Their ‘own way’ has led them to the final race for medals in Chungju, a race which the senior team debutante believes is “all open.”
Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, Norway and Greece will line up on the start of the Tangeum Lake regatta course at 15:33 (Korean local time).