Paralympic Games: LTA mixed coxed four preview
The LTA mixed coxed four is the sole sweep boat in adaptive rowing and 12 countries will be racing in it at the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Eton Dorney.
The four has its international roots dating back to the 2002 World Rowing Championships where it debuted as a coxed four with some countries entering all male crews while others entered a mixture of men and women.
This boat has now evolved into a boat class that must have two male and two female athletes plus an able-bodied coxswain. Able to take part in this event are rowers with a disability who have use of their legs, trunk and arms and are able to use a sliding seat. It includes athletes with physical disabilities like amputees as well as those with visual impairments. A maximum of two visually impaired athletes can be in the boat.
Australia won the inaugural race with seven countries competing that first time in 2002. Great Britain entered a crew the following year and for the next four years they remained unbeaten at the World Rowing Championships. Great Britain then still made it onto the medals podium every year, even if not always in the top spot. They come to the Paralympic Games as the most successful nation in this boat class and the reigning World Champions.
Ever since 2004 Naomi Riches has been the mainstay of the British boat. This has earned Riches, 29, five World Championship titles. However, at the Paralympic Games in 2008 Italy was the winning nation, pushing Great Britain into third behind the United States.
Since the Beijing Paralympics, Italy has had a rocky road and last year they finished tenth. But coxswain Alessandro Franzetti has remained consistent and will again steer the Italian boat in London.
Germany and Canada join Great Britain as standout crews. Canada has shown a very consistent line-up. Both Anthony Theriault and Meghan Montgomery have been in the boat for the past six years with Victoria Nolan joining five years ago. They became World Champions and also set a World Best Time of 3:21.22 in 2010. In 2011, they finished second in the world at the World Rowing Championships.
The Germans have been regular A-finalists and struck gold in 2007, breaking Great Britain’s winning streak. For the last three years Germany have been the bronze medallists at the World Rowing Championships but then at the final international race before London, the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Munich two months ago in June, Germany finished second to winners Great Britain by just half a second.
Germany’s line up has seen regular changes since the last Paralympic Games. They have retained Anke Molkenthin from the crew that finished third last year. Coxswain Katrin Splitt also remains the same from 2011.
Originally raced over 2000m, the distance was reduced to 1000m in 2006 and this competitive event has witnessed some of the closest finishes of all of the adaptive rowing events.