One step closer to the London Olympics
Two events today saw countries qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia – the women’s pair and the men’s eight.
Women's Pair (W2-) - Semifinals
The women’s pair was the first up and, as expected, last year’s silver medallists Great Britain led the way in semifinal one. Helen Glover, 25, and Heather Stanning, 26, have been rowing together since 2010. It was Glover’s first time on the British national team whilst Stanning has been rowing internationally since 2007.
Tucked very closely behind the British was China. You Wu and Yulan Gao of China raced together at the 2008 Beijing Olympics finishing second. Since then they have not raced together internationally until this regatta. As in 2008, Wu and Gao are a force to be reckoned with. Behind these two boats Italy and South Africa battled it out for the final qualifying spot. A better second half by Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse of South Africa gave their nation its first qualifying boat for the 2012 Olympic Games. Great Britain and China also qualify for London and all three boats advance to Thursday’s final.
Heather Stanning (GBR)
"The race went according to plan, but only towards the finish we were confident we would qualify. You never know with semi- finals. Job done, now we need to recover quickly for the finals"
Lee-Ann Persse (RSA)
"It was very tough at first, but then we picked up our rhythm. After we passed Italy we could keep going, all the way to the qualifying spot. This is great!"
Juliette Haigh (NZL)
“We are really satisfied with this result and very excited to have qualified the boat for next year’s Olympics. We wanted to concentrate on the qualification today and it’s great that it all worked out. I have been to the Olympics twice before and I’m especially excited for Rebecca now. We will trial for this boat and if all goes to plan, we will go the Olympics together, the first Games for her.”
The reigning World Champions, Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown of New Zealand, made good work of semifinal two and used an aggressive stroke rate to secure first place, a spot in the final and an Olympic berth for their country. Behind them Australia, in second, must have felt relieved. The Australians had to substitute one of their athletes for health reasons (Phoebe Stanley) and bring in spare Kate Hornsey to row with 2010 fourth place finisher Sarah Tait. Australia earns an 2012 Olympic spot.
Rounding out the qualifying positions was Romania. Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu of Romania nearly caught the Australians and also earned a spot at the Olympics. Surprisingly the United States did not manage to make it through and will have to do their best in the b-final to keep their Olympic qualification hopes alive.
Men's Eight (M8+) - Semifinals
The big men in the men’s eight charged down the course next and in the first semifinal Olympic Champions Canada led the way in a very tight, six boat, race. Coming through the first 500 only 1 ½ seconds separated the entire field. Then through the middle of the race orders started to get sorted out. Canada and Great Britain started to move away from the rest of the fleet with Australia just a bit down. A huge sprint by the British gave them the edge at the finish and, along with Canada and Australia, Great Britain earn Olympic qualification spots as well as a chance to race in the final on Thursday.
Greg Searle (GBR)
"We had a good race, but the real job is tomorrow. But hey, today we qualified for our Olympics, and I am happy with that"
The unbroken winning streak of the Germans looks to be continuing. Today, in semifinal two, the Germans led for the entire race and crossed the line with the fastest qualifying time. All of the action went on behind the Germans. The Netherlands and Poland had a full-on tussle going on for second. It took until the finish line to sort it out with the Dutch just getting the upper hand.
Andreas Kufner (GER)
“The qualification is definitely great. But we came here to defend the title, thus we were always hoping for the qualification. Qualifying was the minimum aim and we got that. Today was a small step, tomorrow we’ll still have to lift it again. Thus it will be all about a maximum recovery during the next 24h. Two races like this within one day is unusual, but it is the same for everybody."
Sjoerd Hamburger (NED)
"Today there was a lot of pressure and I think we showed we can cope with that in a goed way, we stayed together. Our races are getting better and better this tournament. In the A- final we will show our best, but for now we made an important step, qualifying for the A-final and Olympics."
Peter van Wiersum (NED)
"Yes we can definitely improve the first and last part of our race, but for now it was good enough."
Poland, however, couldn’t hide their joy in finishing third. The Poles have been working on Olympic selection in this boat for the last three years. Today they did it. A very happy coxswain, Daniel Trojanowski climbed from his seat and made his way through the entire boat congratulating every rower in the boat. Germany, the Netherlands and Poland advance to tomorrow’s final in the knowledge that they have already qualified for the London Olympics.
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