Romania’s Constanta Burcica is the athlete who has won the most Olympic medals in the lightweight double. Burcica competed at three consecutive Olympic Games in the lightweight double, starting in 1996, and claimed gold at all three.  For Sydney and Athens the titles were won with crewmate Angela Alupei.

Not only was Burcica successful as a lightweight rower – she also competed at the Olympic level in open-weight categories. An Olympic bronze in the eight from 2008 and an Olympic silver medal in the quad from 1992 can also be found in her medal collection. Burcica's Olympic rowing career spanned 16 years and places her in sixth position in the all-time list of most successful female Olympic rowers.

Since the Burcica days other nations have caught up to Romania and this year it took the last-chance European Olympic Qualification Regatta in May for Romania to qualify for Rio. They did it with a young line-up consisting of Ionela-Liva Lehaci and Gianina-Elena Beleaga.

Behind Romania, the Netherlands place second on the list of all-time most successful nations at the Olympic level in the lightweight women’s double sculls. Marit van Eupen and Kirsten van der Kolk claimed bronze at the Athens Games in 2004 and then gold four years later in Beijing.

The Netherlands appear to be making a comeback just in time for Rio. Maaike Head and Ilse Paulis qualified at the last chance qualification regatta in May and this season have been winning against the best crews in this boat class. At World Rowing Cup III, the Netherlands won gold ahead of the double World Champions from New Zealand. Not only that, Head and Paulis also set a new World Best Time and World Cup Best Time of 6:47.69 At the European Rowing Championships, Head and Paulis claimed the title ahead of an experienced field that included the reigning Olympic Champion from Great Britain, Katherine Copeland.

Ilse Paulis (b), Maaike Head (s), Lightweight Women's Double Sculls, Netherlands © FISA Igor Meijer

 

The World Best Time has been set and re-set a number of times in the past four years with Great Britain and New Zealand swapping ownership. Great Britain’s Copeland and  Charlotte Taylor owned it most recently before the Dutch took over last month. Despite being defending Olympic Champions, the British have had an average season so far this year, racing only once this season at the European Rowing Championships and finishing in the B-final.

Sophie Mackenzie (b), Julia Edward (s), New Zealand, Lightweight Women's Double Sculls, Heat 3, 2016 World Rowing Cup II, Lucerne, Switzerland © FISA Igor Meijer

 

New Zealand won the past two World Rowing Championships and if they win in Rio it will be an historic first Olympic medal for their nation in this boat class. Julia Edward and Sophie Mackenzie are the crew to look out for.

All-time dream crew in the lightweight women’s double sculls

By Martin Cross

Using more than a century of modern rowing, Martin Cross looks at the sport’s legendary performers and plays selector. This is his pick.

Stroke: Constanta Burcica (ROU)
Burcica’s name is indelibly etched on the stroke seat of this boat – how could it be any other when, between 1996 and 2004, the Romanian won three consecutive Olympic titles. But there’s more: in 1992 and 2008, Burcica was talented enough to win a seat in the quad and in the women’s eight. On those occasions, the woman from Dinamo Bucharest won silver and bronze, respectively.

Bow: Kirsten van der Kolk (NED)
The Haarlem born woman was a three-time Olympian. Remarkably in her third Olympic appearance, she took gold in Beijing. She won that medal with Marit van Eupen. What really made van der Kolk’s performance stand out was the fact that she was, by then, a mum. Her son, Nike, was a frequent presence in his pram around Amsterdam's Bosbaan course where she trained.

Stats & links

Videos

Olympic Games – London 2012

World Rowing Championships – Aiguebelette 2015

World Rowing Championships – Amsterdam 2014

World Rowing Championships – Chungju 2013

 

World Best Times – Historical Evolution (LW2x)

Time

Boat

Competition

 6:47.69 NED  2016 World Rowing Cup III (final)

6:48.38

GBR1

2015 World Rowing Cup II (Semifinal A/B1)

6:48.56

NZL

2014 World Rowing Championships (Final A)

6:49.16

GBR

2014 World Rowing Championships (Final B)

6:49.43

NZL

2012 World Rowing Cup II - Rotsee/Lucerne, Switzerland (Heat 1)

6:49.77

CHN3

2006 World Rowing Cup II - Malta/Poznan, Poland (Final A)

6:49.90

AUS

2004 Olympic Games - Schinias/Athens, Greece (Heat 3)

6:52.84

AUS

2002 World Rowing Championships - Guadalquivir/Seville, Spain (Final A)

 

Olympic Best Times – Historical Evolution (LW2x)

Time

Boat

Competition

06:49.9

AUS

2004 Olympic Games - Schinias/Athens, Greece (Heat 3)

 

Olympic Qualification

No.

Olympic Qualification Regatta

LW2x (20)

1

WCH 1

NZL

2

WCH 2

GBR

3

WCH 3

RSA

4

WCH 4

CAN

5

WCH 5

DEN

6

WCH 6

GER

7

WCH 7

CHN

8

WCH 8

POL

9

WCH 9

IRL

10

WCH 10

RUS

11

WCH 11

USA

12

Euro CQR 1

NED

13

Euro CQR 2

ROU

14

African CQR 1

TUN

15

Asian/Ocea CQR 1

JPN

16

Asian/Ocea CQR 2

VIE

17

Asian/Ocea CQR 3

HKG

18

Americas CQR 1

BRA

19

Americas CQR 2

CUB

20

Americas CQR 3

CHI