Olympic rowing rocks off with World Best Time
The Eton Dorney regatta course was a fabulous scene of clear skies, tail winds and a grandstand packed full of colour and life and nations.
This was the opening day of rowing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. Weather conditions for today’s racing were a mixture of firm tail wind down to practically negligible wind as the morning progressed. Temperatures got up to the mid-20’s degrees Celsius with intense sun and then dropped as the sun disappeared behind passing clouds. This meant comparing the time from one heat to the next was not always possible.
New Zealand’s Hamish Bond and Eric Murray pulled off a stunner in the men’s pair when they not only set an Olympic Best Time by a remarkable 12 seconds, but broke the World Best Time set my James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent, which had stood for almost ten years.
There were a further three Olympic Best Time’s set with Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain setting the standard in the very first race of the regatta, the women’s pair. New Zealand’s World Champions in the men’s double sculls, Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan, powered to the finish in their heat to finish in the fastest ever time in this event at the Olympic Games, and Belgium’s Tim Maeyens also went into the record books by claiming the Olympic Best Time in the men’s single sculls.
Women’s Pair (W2-) –Heats
With the crowd definitely in Great Britain’s favour, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain were already the clear leaders of Heat One with about 30 strokes rowed. Glover and Stanning come into this Olympic regatta with a World Championship silver medal from 2011 and an unbeaten season through the Samsung World Rowing Cup season. Settling into a 35 stroke rate pace, Stanning and Glover kept their nose ahead of the brand new United States duo of Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka. Hendershot and Zelenka are part of the powerful US women’s sweep squad and their last international race was in 2011 when they became World Champions in the women’s four.
Stanning and Glover, at a 35 stroke rate pace, remained in front with the US keeping the heat on. As the last 500m came into view Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu of Romania began to put the pressure on. Andrunache and Susanu are the reigning Olympic Champions but have only recently made a comeback for these Olympics.
At the line Great Britain had held on to first, the US in second and Romania had come through to third. Great Britain and the United States go directly to the A-final . Great Britain with a new Olympic Best Time of 6:57.29.
Results: GBR, USA, ROU, GER, ARG
It was Australia all the way in Heat Two with Kate Hornsey and Sarah Tait in the lead while reigning World Champions, New Zealand’s Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown slotted into second. This was quite a turn of events, with Haigh and Scown used to being ahead of the Australians. Not today. Hornsey and Tait continued to lead for the remainder of the race with the rest of the field slotting into positions that remained unaltered.
A smooth looking Tait and Hornsey powered through to the finish with a 34 stroke rate pace compared to Scown and Haigh, looking rather low in the boat, on a 35. Australia and New Zealand become the two A-final qualifying boats from this heat.
Results: AUS, NZL, CHN, RSA, ITA
Sarah Tait (AUS)
"We rowed well in the middle of the race and they will have seen we didn't have to push too hard. Word of my surgery got out around the world - I was surprised - so they thought I was coming into the Games injured."
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Heats
Last year’s World Champions Germany showed the way in Heat One. The goal here was to finish first for a direct path to the A-final. Thiele, Baer, Richter and Oppelt of Germany had the race in the palm of their hands within the first 500m of the race. This crew has spent the season mixing it up between the double and the quad with this line-up the priority women’s sculling boat for Germany.
Behind Germany the United States, who looked as if they were putting in far more effort than the Germans, sat in second. The US tried hard to challenge the leading Germans down the course, but it looked like their effort could not match Germany. Meanwhile 2008 Olympic Champions, China, sat at the back of the field behind Poland.
The order remained the same despite the United States doing a 39 stroke rate finishing sprint. But it did not dent Germany, on 35, as the leaders. Germany progress directly to the final.
Results: GER, USA, POL, CHN
There is no doubt about how much Ukraine want to win this event. It has been their focus ever since the 1996 Olympic Games and in Heat Two they made the best of it by getting out in front of Australia at the start. The aerial shot showed Ukraine in perfect synchronicity as they led the field with Australia remaining in second and New Zealand just back in third.
This order remained through the body of the race with Ukraine (Tarasenko, Dovgodko, Kozhenkova and Dementieva) easily underrating the Australians. Coming into the line Ukraine rated a rather casual 32 strokes to remain in front and book their spot in the A-final. Australia will have to return for the repechage. With the support of the crowd, Great Britain did a big finishing push but remained behind New Zealand in fourth.
Results: UKR, AUS, NZL, GBR
Britta Oppelt (GER)
"Racing in the (women's) double sculls is different. It was something we tried to see how it worked out. After that, we decided that the quadruple sculls was the priority boat class for Germany. We just have to win. Yes, it's that simple. We will see what happens. It is going to be tough. There's no free rides in the Olympics."
Frances Houghton (GBR)
"The physical hard work is done but this is where the mental work comes in during the next few days. At least we're underway now, Monday (the repechage) is going to be the biggest race."
Megan Kalmoe (USA)
"Nobody comes here to not win. I think that we've been able to learn a lot. This was our first race in this crew racing internationally. It was very exciting."
Kerry Hore (USA)
"It was pretty cool to have Team GB in our heat, I haven't experienced a roar like that before. It was a solid race, we have been improving over the last few weeks, every training session we have got better and we work well together."
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Heats
The United States came to these Olympics the hard way. Having to qualify through the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May this year, today in Heat One the Americans were desperate to prove that they had what it takes to get into the medals at this Olympic regatta. Stroked by Brett Newlin, they looked a little rough but strong through the water. Newlin raced at the 2008 Olympics in the four and has obviously proved himself to coach Mike Teti to be in this prestigious boat.
Jumping out to an early lead, in practically flat calm, no-wind conditions, the United States got their nose ahead of nearly a complete line between the rest of the field, Australia, Poland and Ukraine. The US then proceeded to work their way away from everyone else so that they had nearly a boat length lead going through the middle of the race. This must have caused a huge collective sigh of relief many thousands of kilometres away in the United States where the US men’s eight is all important and of all eights the United States has won more times at the Olympic Games.
Australia tried their best to close the gap on the Americans and took their rate to a 42 coming into the finish. But it was not enough. The United States gets to be the only crew to go directly to the final.
Results: USA, AUS, POL, UKR
The crowd was psyched for Heat Two. The German World Champions were racing, so were the Olympic Champions Canada and so was the 2011 silver medallists, Great Britain. With one spot up for grabs in the final would these very competitive crews go all out to get the spot or would they play a tactical race.
Germany have not lost a race since 2009 and there is no doubt that they were the favourites coming into this event. Over-rating the rest of the field at the start, the Germans got out to an early lead and once they had their nose in front there was no looking back. Surprisingly, early on it was Canada that posed the biggest threat to Germany. But this did not last long as Great Britain pushed into second. On hearing this the crowd along the last 700m of the course went wild. Could Great Britain move out of their regular second-placed spot and finally beat the Germans?
Today, the answer was ‘no’. As the finish came into view Germany had a rather comfortable lead using long smooth strokes, with Great Britain remaining in second using a much more powerful, but shorter stroke. Germany gets to be the sole boat to go directly to the final and, so far, with the fastest qualifying time. Surprisingly Canada, who set a new World Best Time earlier this season, finished in fourth at the back of the field.
Results: GER, GBR, NED, CAN
Brett Newlin (USA)
"The crew from 2004 is a huge inspiration. I mean, (the stroke of that crew) Bryan Volpenhein is here, he's the coach of the lightweight men's four. It would be great if we could follow in their footsteps. "
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
What a race! At the start of Heat One the reigning Olympic Champions, Australia were there, as was the 2000 Olympic Champions, Slovenia, as were the 2009 World Champions, Germany. But despite this hugely talented field it was Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter of Lithuania who had the lead early on.
By the middle of the race three crews had established themselves out in front and they were certainly tightly packed. Less than a second separated Slovenia (Iztok Cop and Luka Spik) who had a fraction of a lead and Lithuania and Germany’s Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger. Surprisingly David Crawshay and Scott Brennan of Australia were off the pace of this leading group.
A push by Germany got them into second behind Slovenia as the final sprint and the roar of the crows began. Who had the best finishing sprint? Well, these top three leading crews all did, but Knittel’s and Krueger’s was just marginally better. Qualifying for the semifinals from this heat were Germany, Lithuania and Slovenia. This finish was the closest so far today with Germany finishing just 4/100th of a second ahead of Lithuania and Slovenia who crossed in a dead heat.
Results: GER, LTU, SLO, AUS, CAN
France’s big medal hope at these Olympic Games, Julien Bahain and Cedric Berrest got out in front at the start of Heat Two, but, like the previous heat, margins were excruciatingly tight. As Ukraine dropped off the pace, France, the high rating Italians (Alessio Sartori and Romano Battisti) and Norway (Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch) paced each other stroke for stroke.
Again this race was going to come down to the best final sprint. The low rating Hoff and Borch had it. Despite underrating the rest of the field by two or three pips Hoff and Borch had timed their race perfectly to take first. This result comes on the back of Hoff and Borch finishing first at the final World Rowing Cup in June and signals their medal potential here. Italy and France came in second and third respectively to also qualify for the semifinals.
Results: NOR, ITA, FRA, UKR
It took until Heat Three for the fastest qualifying time to be recorded, and also a new Olympic Best Time to be set. It was done by the reigning World Champions, Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen of New Zealand. Here is how it was done.
At the start Great Britain’s Bill Lucas and Sam Townsend took the lead. This combination has come out of last year’s British quadruple sculls and they have been itching to prove themselves. In second were Ariel Suarez and Cristian Rosso of Argentina with Cohen and Sullivan back in third. A big second quarter push by Suarez and Rosso gave them the leading edge through the middle of the race but with just over a second separating these top three boats as the last 500m came into view, it would all come down to the best sprinters.
Taking their stroke rate to 41, Cohen and Sullivan gave it their all. New Zealand follows the philosophy of ‘miles make champions’ and today all of those miles of training had paid off for Cohen and Sullivan. They crossed the line just ahead of Great Britain and set a new Olympic Best Time of 6:11.30 – 19/100th of a second faster than the previous time set in 2004. New Zealand, Great Britain and Argentina qualified for the semifinals.
Results: NZL, GBR, ARG, EST
Julien Bahain (FRA)
"Every year no one is giving us a chance to get a medal, and every year we get a medal. You cannot predict anything."
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Heats
This race turned into one of the upsets of the day with Switzerland the winners of Heat One. After an initial lead by South Africa, Switzerland’s Gyr, Niepmann, Tramer and Schuerch got their boat into the lead. But with less than two seconds separating the top four boats, this was going to be a fight to the end. Throughout this season Switzerland have been regular A-finallists and last year at the World Rowing Championships they finished sixth. Today they were having a great race over South Africa with reigning Olympic Champions, Denmark sitting back in fourth.
The Swiss continued to lead through to the finish line as Denmark, stroked by the great Eskild Ebbesen, realised that they needed to do something if they wanted to get into a spot to qualify for the semifinals. Taking their stroke rate to 42, Denmark attacked third placed Italy as a top three finish would be required to make it to the semifinals. Italy tried to hold on rating 43, but they were getting mowed down by Denmark.
Meanwhile Switzerland and South Africa looked rather comfortable in first and second respectively. At the line Switzerland, South Africa and Denmark had become the qualifiers for the semifinals.
Results: SUI, RSA, DEN, ITA, USA
There is little doubt that we are in London as every time a British boat takes to the water the crowd absolutely comes alive. Great Britain took to the water in Heat Two, but it was Australia who had the lead early on. Edwards, Beltz, Cureton and Skipworth of Australia are the reigning World Champions and they were doing a fine job here on Dorney Lake in these tail wind conditions.
Coming through the middle of the race Australia still had the lead with Great Britain, much to the crowd’s excitement, pressing hard. Great Britain were the World Champions in 2010 and, after finishing third in 2011, they gained motivation to coe back stronger. With brothers, Peter and Richard Chambers in the boat along with Chris Bartley and Rob Williams, the line-up comes to these Olympics having won at the final World Rowing Cup of the season last month.
In one of the more spread out finishes of this event, Great Britain pushed into the lead in the final 500m while Australia and Germany looked like they were visibly tiring. Great Britain, looking strong and in control, powered on to record the fastest qualifying time to qualify for the semifinals. Australia and Germany earn the other two spots in the semifinals.
Results: GBR, AUS, GER, CZE
For France, their lightweight four heyday was the 2000 Olympics where they scored gold. Since then they have been in and out of the medals and a little up and down in their results. Today,France showed their Olympic pace by taking off at the head of the field in Heat Three. Coming through the second 500, however, a piece by China forced the French out of first.
The French (Moutton, Solforosi, Baroukh and Moreau) fought back and coming through the third 500, France had pushed China into second with the late Olympic qualifiers, the Netherlands now coming through.
The final sprint saw France hold their own to take a spot in the semifinals with Netherlands earning spot from finishing second and China took third, just a fraction behind the Dutch. These are the three qualifying boats.
Results: FRA, NED, CHN, POL
Morten Joergensen (DEN)
"This heat was not the best we can do. The wind was against us. Our plan is to win. Our main concerns are Great Britain and Australia, but we are strong and we now have to show the other crews what we can do. When it comes down to it, we are the fastest crew in this event."
Rob Williams (GBR)
"I'm only really thinking about ourselves. The Aussies are a fantastic team but if we can get our boat to go as fast as possible, that will do the work for us - rowing is a non-contact sport. We just row the boat as quickly as we can. The crowd were ludicrous. I've never felt anything like it. The British public supporting us makes us go quicker."
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
Back in Athens in 2004 Russia took the rowing world by storm by becoming the Olympic Champions. They have tried to emulate this ever since and after today’s heat they look to be on track. Russia (Ryabtsev, Svirin, Morgachev and Fedorovtsev) got off the line the quickest but were very closely followed by Estonia. Estonia are late qualifiers for this event after coming through the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May but they showed straight away that they would be a force to be reckoned with.
As the race pressed on, Russia remained in front with Estonia challenging hard. These two crews remained in the top two spots with France now getting the better of Italy to take the third qualifying spot.
Coming into the finish the top three qualifying boats were very clear. Russia remained in first, Estonia would take second and France had gained a huge amount of ground to take third. Meanwhile Italy, from about 200m to go, had started paddling with the United States who were also off the pace.
Results: RUS, EST, FRA, USA, ITA
Jumping out to an early lead Croatia took this race by storm. David Sain, Damir Martin and Valent and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia have proved to be a remarkable crew. They come to the Olympics having won every race they competed in internationally this season.
But it was Olympic Champions, Poland who were pressing the Croatians hard. Poland went on a winning spree that lasted from 2005 through to 2009. Then their results started to be rather irregular and they come to London as not really being favoured to win a medal. Today the Poles proved that they had stepped up a level by sitting in a very close second to the Croatians.
This order did not change with reigning World Champions, Australia battling hard against New Zealand. In the final sprint Croatia remained in first, Poland in second and Australia got the better of New Zealand to finish third. These are the three boats that qualify for the semifinals, Croatia with the fastest qualifying time.
Results: CRO, POL, AUS, NZL
In 2011 Germany were beaten out of first due to a crab in the closing metres of the race at the World Rowing Championships. Their silver was bittersweet. Today Germany proved that they had truly moved on and led heat three from start to finish. Their lead from end to end was also truly impressive as the German’s (Schulze, Wende, Schoof, Grohmann) were never really challenged by the rest of the field.
Great Britain sat in second after pushing past Ukraine to earn this spot. At the finish Germany, Great Britain and Ukraine had earned spots in the semifinals.
Results: GER, GBR, UKR, SUI
Martin Sinkovic (CRO)
"It is a great feeling to beat the world and Olympic champions. it was a tough race but we are happy with the group. We wanted tough competition in the heat so are glad we got Poland, Australia and New Zealand. Our rhythm and training has been good. During the race we had a little bit more wind than we expected."
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats
If you ever doubted the talent of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray of New Zealand, put all of those doubts to rest. Today Bond and Murray not only smashed the Olympic Best Time, set by the great Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent in 1996, but they did it by racing under no pressure from the rest of the field and racing in conditions that were tail wind, but not strong tail wind.
The time of 6:08.50 set by Bond and Murray was a huge 12 seconds faster than the 1996 time. It was also fast enough to set a new World Best Time. The former World Best Time was 6:14.27 and set in 2002 by Pinsent and James Cracknell.
Bond and Murray came out of the start of Heat One behind France’s Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette, but soon reeled them in through the middle of the race so that by the 1500 metre mark the Kiwis had a clear water lead. Using a 37 stroke rate Bond and Murray were alone at the head of the field and powered on into Olympic and World sporting history. With the top three boats qualifying for the semifinals, New Zealand was followed by France with Poland qualifying from third.
Results: NZL, FRA, POL, SRB, HUN
Canada’s 2008 silver medallists, David Calder and Scott Frandsen made easy work of Heat Two. Calder and Frandsen took the lead at the start and by the half-way point had settled into an easy pace as they were not being pressed by any other crew. Calder came out of post-2008 retirement last year and they instantly showed that, with Frandsen, they still had what it would take.
Behind Calder and Frandsen, Australia, the United States and the Netherlands conducted a close battle with Australia’s James Marburg and Brodie Buckland proving to be the better sprinters. Canada, Australia and the Netherlands (Nanne Sluis and Meindert Klem) were through to the semifinals.
Results: CAN, AUS, NED, USA
If Bond and Murray hadn’t been racing here, the young unknown British duo of George Nash and William Satch would own the Olympic Best Time. At the end of this race they had rowed to a 6:16.58 time, much to the delight of the 30,000-strong crowd.
At the start Greece’s twin brothers, Nikolaos and Apostolos Gkountoulas had the lead with Nash and Satch chasing hard. Greece still remained in front through the middle of the race but the British seemed to be closing the gap with every stroke so that by the 1500m mark, where the crowd really began to swell, Nash, 22, and Satch, 23, got into the lead. As the Greek’s began to race, Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini of Italy poured on the pace.
In the final sprint Nash and Satch had held on to first, Mornati and Carboncini took second and the Gkountoulas brothers had third. These are the three qualifying boats for the semifinals.
Results: GBR, ITA, GRE, GER
Eric Murray (NZL)
"There's one thing saying you're really well prepared and there's another to go and show you're prepared, but this (new World Best Time) has given us a real confidence boost."
Hamish Bond (NZL)
"You don't really have a sense of how fast you're going down the course, you have an indication but it's not accurate, so we had no idea about the World Best Time until we saw the time, but yeah, it's awesome."
Germain Chardin (FRA)
"It was incredibly exciting, the fact that there were so many people there, it just made it unbelievable to race in. It really does increase the excitement with the British being so animated."
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Heats
He may be one of the smaller competitors in this event, but it hasn’t stopped Tim Maeyens of Belgium from already competing at two Olympic Games with a fourth-placed finish at one of them. Today in Heat One Maeyens raced so well that at the line he had set a new Olympic Best Time. Last set in 1996 by Xeno Mueller of Switzerland, Maeyens knocked two seconds off the time to record the new time of 6:42.52.
As Belgium’s sole rowing representative at these Games, Maeyens has quite a weight on his shoulders. But he took it in his stride and after overtaking early speedster, Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba, Maeyens got into the lead and never looked back.
Now in front, Maeyens kept the pressure on, sprinting to the line at a 39 stroke rate pace. Meanwhile Fournier seemed content to remain in second and never really pushed it towards the end. Behind Fournier, Mexico’s Patrick Loliger Salas had slotted into third and the order did not change to the line. Maeyens, Fournier and Loliger all qualify for the quarterfinals.
Results: BEL, CUB, MEX, IND, CHI, IRI
You have to go back to the 2000 Olympics to get the best result for Marcel Hacker of Germany when he finished in third. Hacker then went on become the World Champion and World Best Time holder. But lately his results have been mixed. However, he comes to London with a win at the final Samsung World Rowing Cup of the season and Hacker looked very comfortable as he raced at the head of the field in Heat Two.
Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis proved to be the biggest threat to Hacker through the body of the race with all other crews back quite a bit. Then the final sprint came into view and it was Santiago Fernandez of Argentina and Henrik Stephansen of Denmark who were really pouring on the pressure. Fernandez retired after the 2008 Olympics and only came back to rowing earlier this year to qualify for the London Olympics. Stephansen qualified at the final qualification regatta in May and comes to this event as a champion in the lightweight single.
At the line both Fernandez and Stephansen, rating 41, had got the better of Griskonis, albeit only just. Hacker qualified from first, Fernandez from second and Stephansen took the third qualifying spot for the quarterfinals, from third.
Results: GER, ARG, DEN, LTU, PER, HKG
Azerbaijan’s Aleksandar Aleksandrov got off the starting line of Heat Three the fastest, breaking away from the field along with Lassi Karonen of Sweden. Aleksandrov is a junior World Champion from 2007 when he raced for his former country, Bulgaria and comes into this race after a successful 2012 Under 23 World Rowing Championships, where he took gold. Karonen raced at the 2008 Olympic Games and is back to do better this time. By the middle of the race Karonen had succeeded in getting into the lead with Aleksandrov still pressing hard.
Then, as Karonen completely broke away from the rest of the field, no one seemed to do anything to challenge the Swede. Now with an open water lead Karonen was able to comfortably watch all five boats behind him. There was no need to sprint to the end. Aleksandrov held on to second with Monaco’s Mathias Raymond taking the third and final qualifying spot. At the finish line Karonen acknowledged the support of the crowd before rowing away to the cool-down area.
Results: SWE, AZE, MON, BRA, ZIM, CMR
Current World Champion and World Best Time holder in this event, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand raced in Heat Four. This was a very important race for Drysdale who had missed the final Samsung World Rowing Cup in June when he suffered from a bicycle accident just a couple of days before he was due to race. It took Drysdale nearly two weeks before he was able to get back in the boat and this race must have been a chance for Drysdale to really test how his body felt.
Right from the start Drysdale had the lead and by the half-way point the Kiwi had broken away to an open water lead. Behind Drysdale, Nour El Din Hassanein of Egypt was holding his own over Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway. Tufte has struggled with racing form ever since winning in 2008 but known for his ability to peak at the right moment has meant that Tufte remains a medal favourite.
Coming through to the end of the race Drysdale was no way in front with Tufte getting ahead of Hassanein to take second. At the line Drysdale, Tufte and Hassanein had qualified for the quarterfinals.
The biggest cheer, however, went to Hamadou Djibo Issaka of Niger. Djibo is in his second international race ever and is the sole and first ever representative for Niger in rowing at the Olympic Games. Djibo finished one and a half minutes behind Drysdale.
Results: NZL, NOR, EGY, ESA, NIG
The crowd really sat up for Heat Five. Alan Campbell of Great Britain was racing and race he did. Getting out to his customary fast start, Campbell was already nearly a boat length in the lead by the first 500m point. In second was 2008 Olympian Liang Zhang of China.
As the race progressed Campbell was able to push further and further ahead of the rest of the field with Zhang now breaking away from Michal Sloma of Poland in third. This procession remained through to the end of the race and Campbell took his stroke rate to a comfortable 31 to cross in first. Zhang qualified for the quarterfinal from second and Sloma took the remaining qualifying spot by finishing third.
Results: GBR, CHN, POL, KOR, KAZ
In Heat Six of the men’s single, the biggest event at the Olympic regatta with 33 countries racing, the 2010 World Champion and favourite to medal here at the London Olympics featured. That Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. But it was Mario Vekic of Croatia who took a flying start and was ahead of Synek, at least for the first 500m of the race. Synek then got is nose ahead of Vekic and after that the race was all but over.
Synek moved out to an open water lead as Vekic slipped further and further back. The race was all but over, barring disaster, for Synek. Synek crossed the line way out in front in first, Vekic was second and Ken Jurkowski of the United States took third. These are the three boats that qualified for the quarterfinals.
Results: CZE, CRO, USA, TPE, TUN
Olaf Tufte (NOR)
"I was doing good in the training, but this was just like the races in the season. There's no point in having a Porsche if you don't know how to drive it."
Mahe Drysdale (NZL)
"I had goals, sure. Number one, win that race. Number two, definitely have a good first 1000 metres, it's important in the heats. You want to get a good blowout straight off but you don't want to waste your energy right now, if you're at 100% every time then you're going to drain yourself."
Lassi Karonen (SWE)
"I cannot be unhappy with a win. I was quite comfortable at the start. Azerbaijan (Aleksandar ALEKSANDROV) wasn't too far ahead. I pushed through him halfway and could ease down afterwards."
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) - Heats
Out in front in Heat One, right from the word go, was Emma Twigg of New Zealand. Twigg came into the single in 2005 when she became the Junior World Champion. She then had a stint in the senior national team eight before realising that the single was her forte. Twigg has been in the single ever since and her best result has been third place at two World Championship events. Today, at her second Olympic Games, Twigg led from start to finish.
Lithuania’s Donata Vistartaite got herself into second over Sanita Puspure of Ireland and this is how the order remained for the rest of the race. Vistartaite, who took a World Cup medal earlier this season, kept the pressure on Twigg but neither boat felt the need to sprint. Twigg and Vistartaite qualify for the quarterfinals from first and second position. Puspure took third to qualify and qualifying from fourth was Brazil’s Kissya da Costa, who left a modelling career to concentrate on rowing.
Results: NZL, LTU, IRL, BRA, ARG, IRI
Kim Crow of Australia is the only rower at this regatta who is competing in more than one event. Crow is doing that in the single and the double sculls. Today Crow raced in Heat Two of the women’s single sculls and did it comfortably by leading from start to finish.
Earlier this year Crow was chosen by her country to compete in the double at these Olympic Games, but when her doubles partner got injured Crow was asked to compete in the single as a contingency plan. By the middle of the race Crow had an open water lead with Nataliya Mustafayeva of Azerbaijan in second and Micheen Thornycroft of Zimbabwe following in third.
Nothing changed in the order as Crow paddled comfortably to the line rating a very easy 25 strokes per minute. Crow now advances to the quarterfinals along with Mustafayeva,, Thornycroft and Yariulvis Cobas of Cuba.
Results: AUS, AZE, ZIM, CUB, ESA, KOR
She’s the reigning World Champion and she comes to her third Olympic Games ready to go after gold. She is Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and she raced in Heat Three. Knapkova got out in front at the start and moved away from Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark with former lightweight rower, Marie-Louise Draeger of Germany following in third.
This order did not change as the race progressed; the only thing that happened was that it got more and more spread out. Coming into the finish Knapkova kept the momentum going on a 30 stroke rate and qualified for the quarterfinal by finishing first. Behind Knapkova, Erichsen took second, Draeger third and Phuttharaksa Neegree Rodenburg of Thailand was fourth. These are the crews that will race in the quarterfinals.
Results: CZE, DEN, GER, THA, KAZ, TUN
The fastest qualifying time of this event came in Heat Four with Xiuyun Zhang of China racing a strong solid race from start to finish. Zhang, 36, has been around the rowing scene for a long time. She is at hear fourth Olympic Games after first competing at the 1996 Olympics where she medalled in the double. She retired after the Chinese National Games in 2009 but realised she still had the speed and fitness to continue and came back to racing in 2011.
Zhang led over 2010 World Champion, Frida Svensson of Sweden. Svensson was not able to put up much of a challenge and by the half-way point Zhang had a huge seven second lead over Svensson in second. Zhang’s lead continued to increase as the race continued and by the finish line she had 11 seconds over the Swede. But the distance was merely academic as the top four boats would qualify for the quarterfinals. Going to the quarterfinals along with Zhang and Svensson will be Gabriela Mosqueira Benitez of Paraguay and Haruna Sakakibara of Japan.
Results: CHN, SWE, PAR, JPN, MYA
Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus is the most medalled woman currently in this event and, at 40, she is just as serious about her rowing as when she began over two decades ago. Karsten has not raced much this season as a rib injury prevented her from competing. But she is still one of the main contenders in this event and today she proved that she was heading in the medals direction by leading Heat Five from start to finish.
Russia’s Julia Levina slotted into second, keeping Karsten honest throughout the race. Levina has also been on the rowing scene for a good while. Levina first raced at the Olympic Games in 2000 when she took bronze in the quad.
Coming into the line Karsten remained in front with Levina taking second over American, Genevra Stone. These three crews will qualify for the quarterfinals along with Debora Oakley Gonzalez of Mexico who took fourth.
Results: BLR, RUS, USA, MEX, ALG
Kim Crow (AUS)
"It was good to get to the start line and feel the atmosphere of the race. It is early days yet and (there are) so many entrants that we won't see anyone's true colours until the semis. We can't take anyone for granted just yet. I've got the double (sculls) on Monday so I'll conserve (energy) until then."