Claudia Santos of Brazil before the start of the heats of the AS Women's Single Sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
There was, however, an added element of significance in today’s repechages.  Today some of the crews qualifying for the final from the repechage would also qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

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The arms and shoulders women’s single sculls (ASW1x), had four boats qualifying for the final from the repechage. As eight boats from this regatta will qualify for the Paralympic Games, all four of these boats became instant qualifiers. They are Israel, Belarus, Korea and Brazil.

As the country qualifies for the Paralympics, rather than the athletes, the makeup of athletes in these qualifying boats may change, but often they do not. Hence Moran Samuel of Israel may be on her way to the London Paralympic Games after just one season of international rowing. Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus is another maybe. Vauchok was second at the 2008 Paralympic Games and she also competes at the winter Paralympic Games.

The remaining qualifiers were Jongrey Lee of Korea. Lee is one of the more experienced athletes in this event. She took up rowing five years ago and, when not training, she enjoys table tennis and running. Finally Claudia Santos of Brazil is likely to be the representative for her country. Santos raced to sixth at the 2008 Paralympic Games and last year she finished second.

Moran Samuel (ISR)
“I’m very excited about coming first in this heat. The final will be very hard, but I’m ready for it. I only started rowing nine months ago, when they did some talent identification at my wheelchair basketball squad. They came to the training and picked me off the court and put me in the boat and it’s great to row here now.”

Jongrey Lee (KOR)
“I’m very, very happy about winning this rep and qualifying for the Paralympics next year. It will be my second Paralympic Games after Beijing. But first the final now and I will be fighting.”

Liudmila Vauchok (BLR)
"I am happy about qualifying for the Olympics. After taking silver in Bejing, and having 2 gold and 2 bronze medals in the Paralympic Winter Games in cross country skiing I expected to make it.  I don’t know if I can make it to the medals this year, but it is next year, London that counts for me"

Claudia Santos  (BRA)
"After winning the gold in 2007, my sixth place in Bejing was a real disappointment. I want to set things right in London, so this qualification means a lot to me. I am so emotional because this has been a hard year. I had surgery and little time to train and my goal here was really to qualify for London. I have not thought about the finals yet, but each race stands on its own, You never know,  I might even make it into  the medals…."

The TAMix Double sculls with Xiaoxian Lou and Tianming Fei from China training at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
The trunk and arms mixed double sculls (TAMix2x) also had Paralympic qualifiers today. Like the single, four more countries earned spots in the London games: China, Italy, Australia and Great Britain. The fastest qualifiers from the repechage was Xiaoxian Lou and Tianming Fei of China. This duo is debuting internationally at Bled. Both are 25 years old and just at the start of their international career.

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John MacLean and Kathryn Ross of Australia raced together to a silver medal at the Beijing Paralympics. Then MacLean retired from rowing. But the lure of another chance at the Paralympic Games brought him back to the sport. Before he turned to rowing Maclean had an impressive sporting career including swimming the English Channel and participating in the Hawaii Ironman. Great Britain’s duo of Nicholas Beighton and Samantha Scowen are in their first season of rowing together and they hit the ground running by taking bronze in their event at the Munich World Rowing Cup in May.

Completing the qualifying line up is Daniele Stefanoni and Silvia De Maria of Italy. De Maria has crossed to rowing after competing in tennis at the Beijing Paralympic Games. Stefanoni has been rowing since 2007 and, with a former partner, he finished fourth at the 2008 Paralympic Games.

Jonh Maclean (b) and Kathryn Ross (s) from Australia racing in the heats of the TA Mixed Double Sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Kathryn Ross & John McLean (AUS)

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Kathryn Ross: “It’s great we have the first box ticked now. Hopefully a medal in the final will be next, but it will be very tight racing and very close. The qualification is definitely a weight off our shoulders. To have qualified the boat for Australia is great and now we can focus on the final.”

John McLean: “It’s fantastic to qualify the boat for the final and ultimately for the Games next year. Kat did a great job today and we can look forward to the A final now. We turned it around pretty quickly from yesterday. We sat down as a crew and talked about what we needed to do and then went out and got the result today.”

Silvia de Maria (ITA)
 “How cool is this. Up to now this was the most important thing – to qualify the boat. Now it’s the final we will focus on and I can’t wait. We’ve been rowing together for one year, and as long as nobody stronger than us comes along, we will be rowing in London next year. And I’m pretty sure it will be us. It’s just wicked to have qualified the boat for Italy”.

Samantha Scowen  (GBR)
"We really came here to qualify for the Olympics in our home country. We took off quickly today and I am so pleased we made it. The finals will be competitive, all good crews and I am now looking forward to that"

Xiaoxian Lou  (CHN)
"We have only been rowing together in this team for 3 months. Our goal was to make Paralympic qualification and we are proud to have achieved that. Now we will give our best in the final, getting the best result possible"

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