Olympic and Paralympic Qualification on the line: 2011 World Rowing Championships Entries Released
The end of August shall be the pinnacle of the 2011 World Rowing season with the world's best getting together in Bled, Slovenia, for the 2011 World Rowing Championships. The event opens on 28 August and races take place over eight days.
Entries are being announced today, and the regatta, which doubles as the first and main Olympic Qualification Regatta for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, has attracted a record 68 nations and over 1200 athletes. The entries are spread across 14 Olympic events, eight international events and five Paralympic adaptive rowing events. The men's single sculls has the largest number of entries with 36 countries represented in this "Blue Riband" event. The lightweight men's double scull is also very well represented with crews from 34 nations entered.
Racing on the picturesque Lake Bled, many athletes will not only be aspiring for World Champion titles they will also be working towards qualifying their boat for next year's Olympic Games. The 14 Olympic events offer varying numbers of qualifying spots and, thus, added pressure for those involved.
Over the recent years Great Britain has embarked in a programme to impress at their home Olympic Games. This has meant huge success for the country in rowing and this success was evident throughout the 2011 season. Great Britain comes to Bled as top medal contenders in a number of events. Leading the way are Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins who are on a two-year winning streak in the women's double sculls. And, judging by recent races, this is highly likely to continue at Bled. Great Britain is also placing big expectations on their men's four and lightweight men's four to bring home gold.
New Zealand is looking good in the men's and women's single sculls and men's and women's pairs. In the women's single Emma Twigg heads to the World Rowing Championships on the back of a win at the final Samsung World Rowing Cup regatta of the season. In the men's event Mahe Drysdale will be up against reigning World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic with Norway, Sweden, Great Britain and Germany all medal prospects. The New Zealand duo of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray continue to dominate in the men's pairs having won nine consecutive races over the past three years and will again face their arch rivals Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge of Great Britain.
Germany comes to Bled after topping the points table at the conclusion of the three Samsung World Rowing Cup regattas this year. The Germans are showing huge strength in the men's eight and also in the men's and women's quadruple sculls.
The women's eight has remained firmly in the hands of the United States in recent years and there is no sign of this crew giving up the top position. Their nearest rivals used to be Romania but now appear to be Canada.
For host country Slovenia, their top medal prospect lies in Iztok Cop and Luka Spik. Cop and Spik, Olympic gold medalists back in 2000, will race in the men's double sculls with the hope of returning to their former glory days.
These World Championships also act as the Paralympic Qualification Regatta and there is no doubt that Tom Aggar of Great Britain, the Paralympic Games gold medallist, is still the standard-setter in this relatively new rowing discipline. Aggar races in the men's single sculls and comes to Bled on an unbeaten run that includes holding the World Best Time. The men's single is the largest adaptive event with a record 17 countries competing.
Adaptive events are raced over 1000m and include one event for intellectually disabled on top of the four physically disabled events.
Lake Bled has hosted the World Rowing Championships in 1966, 1979 and 1989, and was host to the first stage of the 2010 World Rowing Cup. It is also home to Slovenian rowing and is the place of residence for the country's top rower Iztok Cop.
The 2011 World Rowing Championships goes from 28 August until 4 September with finals each day from 1 to 4 September.
Live results, audio streaming, race reports, results and a photo gallery will be available throughout the regatta on www.worldrowing.com.
A full list of entries and an updated provisional timetable can be found here.