Persistence pays off for Knapkova
In the final race, race number 294 of the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic showed that 10 years of perseverance had paid off. Knapkova won the women’s single sculls.
Racing was brought forward after forecasts showed that a windy front would be moving in. Racing 1 ½ hours earlier meant that today’s finals got to enjoy warm weather on relatively calm waters of Lake Bled.
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Final
There is one country that is synonymous with this event – Italy. The Italians have won this event countless times in recent years and regularly with the help of Daniele Gilardoni. Last year Gilardoni did not race and Italy ended up in the unusual position of fourth. Instead Germany was first. Today Italy and Germany faced each other in the two centre lanes. Coming out of the start five crews were on the pace with only Hungary struggling.
By the middle 1000m Italy and Germany had pulled away with the Italians (Francesco Rigon, Daniele Gilardoni, Franco Sancassani and Stefano Basalini) just ahead of Germany (Michael Wieler, Stefan Wallat, Jonas Schuetzeberg and Ingo Voigt). The Germans and Italy remained tightly packed together, both rating in the high 30s through the middle of the race.
The margin remained tight as the charge for the line began. Germany went to 40 and the Italians went to 41 with Denmark absolutely sprinting down to the line at a 45 stroke rate. At the line Italy had regained the top of the podium, Gilardoni had earned World Champion title number 11, Sancassani took his tally to nine, Basalini now is at seven and newcomer Rigon earns World Champion title number one.
Results: ITA, GER, DEN, IRL, USA, HUN
Stefano Basalini (ITA) – Gold
“After Lucerne, we especially trained for the finish of the race and we definitely improved. It was a really tough race and we were very aware of the Germans. On the last 300m, my eyes were closed and we just went for it. This is awesome, it’s my seventh World Championship title, the ninth for Franco. Daniele is our most medalled man with now his 11th title and it’s the first World Champs for our youngster in the bow and already the gold medal for him as well. Fantastic!
Michael Wieler (GER) – Silver
“We had trouble coping with the waves in the first 1000 metres, we lost too much to win here. Not overly happy now.”
Stefan Wallat (GER) - Silver
“We won in Lucerne, and we really wanted to win here, after we crossed the finish line I could only curse myself.”
Martin Batenburg (DEN) – Bronze
“The water conditions were difficult and we had to concentrate on our balance. It was like a tunnel race. Impossible to look at the other boats. At the end we knew that we are the quickest in the last 500m.”
Lightweight Men’s Eight (LM8+) – Final
Coming into this final the United States had been the winner of the race for lanes earlier in the week. Today last year’s bronze medallists, Italy took off at a cracking pace and got their nose ahead of France. The Italians remained in the lead through the middle of the race but there was very little in it between Italy, France and Australia.
These three countries then paced each other stroke for stroke before France found the heat too much leaving Australia to try and catch the Italians. Coming into the final sprint Italy, coxed by Gianluca Barattolo, still had the edge over Australia. Italy upped their stroke rate to 43, Australia matched them. Then Denmark, at 45, charged. In the flurry of 40 fast-moving oars, it was hard to tell. Italy didn’t know, Australia didn’t know. The big screen showed Australia as the winners. Cosxwain David Webster for Australia nearly fell into the water in excitement.
Results: AUS. ITA, DEN, FRA, USA
Darryn Purcell (AUS) – Gold
“I had no idea where we were. We just kept pushing and pushing to the line. The plan was to get out well and on the second 1000 to just go for courage. This is awesome.”
David Webster (AUS) – Gold
“Honestly, I thought we hadn’t won. With the different boats, seats, the excitement I just couldn’t tell. When it then came up on the board it was just unbelievable. And I still can’t believe it!”
Gianluca Santi (ITA) – Silver
“We had the best race we could. Of course it’s a bit bitter-sweet but it was a perfect race for us, but Australia was just a little bit better than us.”
Christian Pedersen (DEN) – Bronze
“We had a reasonable start, better than in the race for lanes. We couldn’t hang on to the Australians, but in the end we just battled and battled, aiming for the second place. Only after the finish line I noticed that France was close as well, just finishing in fourth.”
Men’s Four (M4-) – Final
As this week’s gone on Australia has been coming along in leaps and bounds ever since finishing seventh at the final World Rowing Cup in July. Today the Australians got off to a cracking start and led the field through the first 500m. Winners of the World Rowing Cup series, Great Britain were the 2009 World Champions, but they were incredibly disappointed to finish fourth last year and vowed to come back stronger in 2011. Coming through the 750m point Great Britain (Langridge, Egington, James and Gregory) had pushed into the lead with Australia now on the defence and trying to hold on.
Once the British had the lead they seemed to lengthen it out and powerfully move away from the rest of the field. By the time the last 400m was on them Great Britain had nearly a full boat length over Australia with the Australians now under threat from a flying Greek crew. Greece finished second last year and everyone knew they had a great sprint. With 300m left to row Greece took the rating up to 43 and closed on Australia. At the line Great Britain had won, Greece has sprinted through to second and the Australians held on for third.
Results: GBR, GRE, AUS, USA, GER, NED
Richard Egington (GBR) – Gold
“The pressure in our boat was very heavy because we were unbeaten this season. Now the challenge is to stay unbeaten in London. The Australians are coming on very strong. . ”
Ioannis Tsilis (GRE) – Silver
“After the start we tried to keep up with the British, but they were just too fast. So we defended the position and tried to attack them at the finish, but they were too strong. This time. Next time we will get them! We have been training so hard all year round together, I think that is why Greek crews are able to compete at such a high level.”
Josh Dunkley-Smith (AUS) – Bronze
“We kinda watched the greek guys and wanted to challenge the British as much as we could. We’ll have a bit of downtime, but get back into it quickly and we’ll step up again for next year.”
Drew Ginn (AUS) – Bronze
“It’s marvelous to be back. I was not overly confident coming into this season as I had been out of it for a bit, but it’s been great to row with these amazing and enthusiastic young blokes. They’ve also introduced me to music I never had a clue of before.”
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Final
Having to be at the required weight and race over a series of days is not at all easy. The race today would show who had prepared for this scenario the best. Coming through from the heats and semis, the Greeks (Christina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou) had showed astonishing speed despite Tsiavou being in the single for most of this season and Giazitzidou racing with her under-23 partner. At the start Giazitzidou and Tsiavou set the pace. Only the British (Goodsell and Hosking) seemed to be able to match the pace.
Giazitzidou and Tsiavou looked strong and comfortable as they kept the pace on through the body of the race. The duo were World Champions in 2009, but slipped to third last year with Canada becoming World Champions. The Canadians currently sat in fourth. They have had an up-and-down season with last year’s World Champion Tracy Cameron unable to row in this boat due to a rib injury a month ago. Patricia Obee has filled in with Lindsay Jennerich and they have been making great progress through the week.
As the finishing line came into view Canada took their stroke rate to 43, Great Britain tried to hold on at 42 and Greece were at 39. Greece are again World Champions, Canada had earned silver and the British were third.
Results: GRE, CAN, GBR, USA, AUS, NZL
Christina Giazitzidou (GRE) – Gold
“We are very happy. We trained a lot and hard to have a good level but this was really unexpected. Now we know we are able to do this and we will train hard to keep this level. ”
Lindsay Jennerich (CAN) – Silver
”We are getting a reputation with our sprint! With Tracy I was used to lead, but we found our own way together to do it. We are only 4 weeks together, but we have been doing a lot of erging in winter and I knew what kind of output Patricia has. She is a very competitive person as well. I just have to make the boat feel like an ergometer to her, and she does all what is needed in front of me! "
Hester Goodsell (GBR) – Bronze
“We didn’t have a good semi, but today was great and we raced our heart out. We so desired a medal and we were confident we could do, but had to put it all into action. Soph did an amazing job leading us out. At some stage I thought it might be silver, but I the Canadians were just amazing and bronze is great.”
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Final
This race was panning out to be a fight between 2009 World Champions New Zealand and defending World and Olympic Champions, Great Britain. The New Zealanders (Storm Uru and Peter Taylor) had recorded slightly better times coming through the heats, quarter and semifinals with Great Britain’s Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter winning their respective races.
Purchase and Hunter grabbed the lead at the start and settled into a 35 stroke rate through the body of the race with Uru and Taylor at 36. New Zealand then got their nose in front but the British were not going to let them get away. These two boats then moved away at the head of the field.
Behind them a tussle was going on between Germany and Italy’s 2010 silver medallists Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini. The last 300m showed the pack closing in on each other. Both Great Britain and New Zealand had moved to a 40 stroke rate pace. The winner was going to be decided on the final surge. Great Britain had successfully defended their title. New Zealand were second and a very happy Italy came through to take third.
Results: GBR, NZL, ITA, GER, DEN, CHN
Zac Purchase (GBR) – Gold
“It was a tough race. We knew that we could win and we never been nervous by the pressure from the kiwis. When they were in front of us at the halfway mark we were confident and knew that we could beat them in the second part of the race.”
Uru Storm (NZL) – Silver
“This was our best race, it was just not enough today. They were faster. I am really disappointed. Might appreciate the silver later”
Elia Luini (ITA) – Bronze
"We didn’t have the best start, but still managed to be with the field. At the end it was a race for third with Germany. On the last strokes I only thought it was Germany ahead yesterday, but not today. It’s great to be on the podium. Only one more year to go. The winter will be hard, but we hope to be back in the double next year and hope we showed our federation that we should be the double.”
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Final
This field has really opened up in the last year in terms of medal spread and after the great Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus finished out of the medals at the final World Rowing Cup in July, the door seemed to open to other boats. Today, the calibre of the six finalists showed that they were all medal prospects.
At the start Annekatrin Thiele of Germany had the fastest start before winner of the final World Rowing Cup, Emma Twigg of New Zealand took over at the front. Twigg then broke away from the pack and worked her way to a full boat length lead, and a little more. Could anyone catch the flying Kiwi?
Meanwhile, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic , who had had a very slow start, was moving. Knapkova was making the rest of the field look like they were standing still. And by the 1500m mark Knapkova had pushed into second. Knapkova, who turns 30 later this month, has been plugging away in this event for the last decade. Her career has seen way too many fourth place finishes and her best finish so far has been a World Championship silver in 2006. Today, Knapkova was having the race of her career.
As Twigg began to show the strain, Knapkova took over in the lead with 300m left to row. Now Karsten was sprinting. The Belarusian was on 37 and moving through Twigg. But no one would be able to catch the flying Czech.
Results: CZE, BLR, NZL, CHN, SWE, GER
Mirka Knapkova (CZE) – Gold
“This is amazing, I did not think that I could win. Ekaterina always has a big sprint, so only in the final strokes I realized I did it! I had a difficult winter and had to miss training. But I feel very confident in my new boat, and training with the national team and technical advice of new coach really helped me improve. I am so happy, this is the first time that I am world champion in the single! ”
Ekatarina Karsten (BLR) – Silver
“It was a hard race. In the final with the six fastest women you never know what will happen. I wanted to do the start well, but Emma and Mirka got ahead. I tried to move up, which worked with Emma, but not with Mirka. I wanted gold, but today Mirka was fast. There’s still next year.”
Emma Twigg (NZL) – Bronze
“I was feeling good and I took the lead very early. In the last 500m it was impossible to resist against the return of Mirka and Ekaterina. This is a great improvement for me.”
LTA Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+) – Final
This race was shaping up to be a two-way battle between Canada and Great Britain. In 2009 the British claimed the World Champion title, but last year the crew was distressed when they were beaten by the Canadians. Great Britain wanted to get the title back. Meeting for the first time since last year’s World Rowing Championships, Great Britain and Canada took off together at the head of the field with last year’s bronze medallists, Germany chasing hard.
Going through the middle of the race Great Britain had the lead. Canada did their best to hold on, but the British, who are full time athletes as they gear up for next year’s Paralympic Games, had more power and slowly pushed away. At the line Great Britain had won back the World Champion title.
Results: GBR, CAN, GER, FRA, IRL, USA
James Roe (GBR) – Gold
“We were a bit behind I think on the Canadians in the first 250 metres, but we really stuck to our raceplan. World champions!”
Pamela Relph (GBR) - Gold
"This is the perfect end to a perfect year.”
Laura Comeau (CAN) – Silver
“Last year we got the gold but this year Great Britain was very strong and it was impossible to beat them. Next year for the Paralympics, it will be a great battle for gold.”
Christiane Quirin (GER) – Bronze
“Great. We are so very happy. This worked well. After qualifying this medal is a great bonus.”