Plenty of Tokyo 2020 qualifiers, loads of pride at World Rowing Championships
There was no underestimating the importance of these semifinals today at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. The qualifiers for the final would all also achieve Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic qualification for their nation. The conditions were racing perfect. Flat water, not too hot. Lovely.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Semifinals
The World Champions Canada jumped out to an early lead just ahead of World Cup medallists Australia. Semifinal One was always going to be a race between these two boats and it was. Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre of Australia got their nose in front and took off. Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Canada fought back. This is the first race for the Canadian duo together this season as Filmer had taken some time off from rowing. Today Australia was too good for them. Then in the final sprint Romania, who had been sitting in fourth, came up to challenge Spain in third. Their flying final sprint was took late. Australia, Canada and Spain had qualified for the final and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
The World silver medallists and World Best Time holders, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand were the favourites of Semifinal Two. They led the way at the start with Ireland chasing hard. These crews have already gone through heats and quarterfinals to get to these semis and the quality was really beginning to show. Then China began to move up. Xinyu Lin and Rui Ju of China had finished third in their quarterfinal, but looked now like they’d really found their pace. Meanwhile New Zealand was motoring away from the field leaving China and Ireland to battle for second. Then the United States crew of Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser came storming through. They are known to be better in the second half of the race and were proving this today. The US had moved into second and continued to motor on. China had run out of steam with Italy now flying. It was four boats going for three spots. A photo finish showed Ireland had missed out on the line. Gowler and Prendergast had finished in 6:57, just eight seconds outside of their World Best Time. New Zealand, USA and Italy had qualified for the Olympics.
Qualifiers: AUS, CAN, ESP, NZL, USA, ITA
Jessica Morrison, AUS
"This is so special because we missed out at the last World Champs. Our sweep programme is doing really well, and we've come really far. This race makes us feel confident heading into to A-final."
Virginia Diaz Rivas, ESP
"I have no words to describe this feeling right now. Everything seems so surreal. I am so excited."
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals
Wow, what a race it was in Semifinal One. At the start there was nothing separating the top five boats. Only New Zealand was a little off the pace. China grabbed the lead at the half way point with just three seconds separating the leading fleet. There the margins tightened up and tightened some move coming into the final sprint. China still had a small lead and New Zealand had come back into striking distance. Italy’s Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta was giving it their all calling on their vast racing experience. It was a flurry at the end with just two seconds separating the top five boats. Italy, Spain and Poland had qualified for the Olympic Games. Italy’s time was just eight seconds outside of a World Best Time. Spain’s Rorigo Conde Romero and Manel Balastegui were elated.
The German crew of Jonathan Rommelmann and Jason Osborne are having a great season. They’ve won a couple of World Cups and they led Semifinal Two from the start. But it was really, really tight and at the half way point the entire field remained tight with Australia now pulling into the lead. The intensity was incredible and the crowd knew it. The roar of the crowd began as Australia continued to lead. Then it all changed in the final sprint. Ireland put down the pedal and went for it with Germany and Norway pulling on all of their experience and power. Less than a second separated these three countries. The three countries had qualified for the Olympic Games. Ireland and Italy had recorded almost identical times.
Qualifiers: ITA, ESP, POL, IRL, GER, NOR
Stefano Oppo - ITA
"That was so close, it was the most difficult race! But we are so happy to qualify the boat for Tokyo."
"This is amazing! We are both under-23 and we've only been rowing together for 5 months. Three years ago we failed to qualify. Our race was incredible, the best I've ever race. We raced with our hearts, and we are so happy with this result."
Para PR2 Mixed Double Sculls (PR2 Mix2x) – Semifinals
Of the crews in Semifinal One the Netherlands and France had the fastest times from their heats. They sat in the centre lanes with the Dutch getting out the quickest. Annika van der Meer and Corne de Koning of the Netherlands have dominated this boat class and by the middle of the race they had a handy lead. Perle Bouge and Christophe Lavigne of France held on to second with Poland coming through in third. These countries had qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Great Britain led the way in Semifinal Two. They had recorded the fastest time coming through from the heats and the crew of Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley of Great Britain continued to charge ahead and by the middle of the race they had open water over an incredible battle going on for second between Brazil and Ukraine. At the line the British had won and also sent a new World Championship Best Time. Their time of 8:07.33 was about half a second faster than the former time. Great Britain, Ukraine and Brazil had qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Qualifiers: NED, FRA, POL, GBR, UKR, BRA
Corne de Koning, NED
"It feels good (to qualify). This will be my second Paralympics. Qualifying in the semi does not assure us for the final, there is still work to do. Only when we have crossed the line in the final will we be assured. We have our singles to race first before Saturday."
Para PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (PR3 Mix4+) – Semifinals
Great Britain has dominated this boat class over recent Paralympic Games. They lined up in Semifinal One with the fastest qualifying time from the heats. The British crew of Buttrick, Rakauskaite, Fox, Stanhope and coxswain Erin Wysocki-Jones already had an open water lead with 500m raced. Behind the leading boat it was incredibly close for second. Brazil, Israel and Australia were neck-and-neck. Then Australia did a piece and broke away from Brazil and Israel. Leaving the battle to be for third. In the final sprint Israel went to 34 to get into a qualifying spot with Great Britain at the head of the field and within World Best Time pace. The British won in a time of 6:49.24 and got the World Best Time by six seconds. Australia came through in second with Israel outsprinting Brazil to take third. Great Britain, Australia and Israel had qualified for the Paralympic Games.
The first to show in Semifinal Two was Russia. The Russians had come through the repechage to make this final and they had the United States and Italy hot on their tails. Then the Americans did a piece and got into the lead with Italy pushing past the Russians. Once in front the US was able to get a boat length lead and hold it to the end. Three more Paralympic qualifiers had been decided.
Qualifiers: GBR, AUS, ISR, USA, ITA, RUS
Marlaina Jaye Miller, ISR
"I'm really excited and overwhelmed with happiness, this is what we set out to do. We'll now try and stay focused for our final."
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Semifinals
Great Britain’s Emily Craig and Imogen Grant won their quarterfinal yesterday and they grabbed the lead at the start of Semifinal One. But the grab was tiny. Less than two seconds separated the entire field with 500m rowed. Then the Netherlands crew of Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis pushed into the lead. Paulis is the Olympic Champion in this boat class and they tried to push away from the field. But the rest of the boats were having none of it. There was only two seconds between the entire field coming into the final 500m. Was this the race of the day? The Dutch, rating 40, crossed the line in first with World Champions Romania at 43 and giving it their all. Great Britain was holding in there. The Dutch had won and in a time just three seconds outside of the World Best Time. The Netherlands, Great Britain and Romania had qualified for the Olympic Games.
The French came flying out in Semifinal Two. The crew of Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove of France had won their quarterfinal yesterday, but in one of the slower times. The World Cup winners, Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle of New Zealand followed in second. McBride and Kiddle then managed to get their nose in front. Margins were oh so tight going through the middle of the race with just two seconds separating the top four boats. Belarus had pushed past France and into second with the French now under threat for a qualifying spot by Switzerland. The sprint to the line was on. Belarus went to 43 with Switzerland looking powerful at 37. New Zealand was at 41 and France, looking tired, at 40. At the line McBride and Kiddle had set a new World Championship best time of 6:48.49, just 0.07 seconds faster than the former time. Belarus and France had qualified for the Olympics from second and third respectively.
Qualifiers: NED, GBR, ROU, NZL, BLR, FRA
Ilse Paulis, NED
"It was a tense race. But you just need to do it, it's your biggest chance, now or never. I think we were all really stressed this morning, so it's nice to have that done. After this race, anything is possible."
Men’s Four (M4-) -Semifinals
Great Britain and Italy had qualified directly to this Semifinal One from the heats earlier in the week. They sat next to each other and the British took off the quickest with Romania in hot pursuit. Romania was going for it and through the middle of the race they remained just a fraction ahead of Italy in third. These three crews had now broken away from the rest of the field. Great Britain, Romania and Italy held their own race out in front and it was incredibly intense. The British went to 42 with Romania going to 46 and drawing level with Great Britain. Italy was at 42 and trying to keep up. It was nothing at the line. Romania had won by 0.23 of a second. Romania, Great Britain and Italy had qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The World Champion Australians won their heat last Sunday giving them time until today’s Semifinal One race. They have gone through various line up changes this season and have settled on Hill, Hargreaves, Purnell and O’Brien. But it was Germany that got away the quickest with Poland in hot pursuit. Normally Australia like to lead from the beginning so maybe they were trying a new strategy by being in third. But margins were tight and by the middle of the race Australia had found the lead. Poland held on to second with Germany trying to hold on to third over an ever-improving United States. Australia then managed to get a small margin over Poland with Germany still holding on to second – albeit only just over the United States. In the print to the line Germany completely ran out of steam. Australia, Poland and the United States had qualified for the Olympics. Australia had recorded the fastest qualifying time for the World Championship finals.
Qualifiers: ROU, GBR, ITA, AUS, POL, USA
Bruno Rosetti, ITA
"I'm very happy. This is my first time to be able to go to the Olympics. It's the dream. We've worked very hard for this."
Women’s Four (W4-) – Semifinals
In Semifinal One Australia was the fastest at the start. They had the fastest time from the heats and are also the world silver medallists from 2018. Denmark, who has had a great season so far, followed in second with Italy in third. Denmark took silver behind Australia at the third World Cup. These two boats got a little ahead of the rest of the field with a line forming between New Zealand, Italy and Romania and Ireland right there as well. What a race for third! Ireland went to 39, Romania to 37 as Australia broke clear of the pack. Romania new to 44. Australia had won with a very, very happy Denmark in second and Romania in third. These three countries had qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Dutch jumped out and into the lead in Semifinal Two. But as has been the case today the whole field was still tightly packed together. Poland and Great Britain were the closest challengers to take the Netherlands out of the lead. The Dutch crew of Meester, clevering, Florijn and Hogerwerf then broke away slightly leaving a line behind them between Poland, Great Britain, China and the United States. The sprint was on with Poland just holding off the US by a fraction. The US crew included 2012 and 2008 Olympic Champion Caryn Davies who has returned to rowing for 2019. In the sprint to the line Poland and the US managed to cross in almost identical times and qualify for the Olympic Games from second and third respectively. The Netherlands had won, qualified for the Olympics and they go to the final with the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: AUS, DEN, ROU, NED, POL, USA
Ida Jacobsen, DEN
"This is surreal! Most of us haven't been (to the Games) before. I wasn't thinking about it during the race, but now I can only think I want it more and more!"
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Semifinals
Poland and Australia won their respective heats a few days ago and they faced each other today in the middle lanes of Semifinal One. Poland had the fastest pace at the start with Ukraine also going out quickly. But the World Champions Italy were the first to get to the 500m mark with Poland and Australia right up with them. At the half way mark Italy, Poland and Australia had broken away from the rest of the field and their battle at the head of the field was incredibly close and intense. The following three boats were still close enough to strike. The second half of this race was going to be full on. Italy and Poland were at 37 and Australia at 38 as the final sprint began. With 200m remaining Poland did a kick and it was Poland at 40 drawing alongside Italy. Italy got to the line just ahead. Italy, Poland and Australia had reserved their spot in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Italy’s time was just a second off the World Best Time.
The Netherlands had the fastest qualifying time from the heats and they sat in the middle lane for Semifinal Two. The race also included Norway with stroke seat Olaf Tufte trying for his seventh Olympic Games. The Dutch got a small margin at the start. Germany and Russia followed closely with Norway right with them. The Netherlands then managed to break away a bit leading a practical line behind them. Three boats were going for two spots. Germany ws making the best of it. The Dutch had win with Germany and China getting second and third respectively. The Dutch had finished just a second outside of the World Best Time – like Italy. These three countries had qualified for the Olympics.
Qualifiers: ITA, POL, AUS, NED, GER, CHN
YI Xudi, CHN
"We are so excited, not only for qualifying for Tokyo 2020, but also it means that we could see some outcome of our extremely hard efforts over the past days. We look forward to the journey to Tokyo."
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Semifinals
Hungary shot away in Semifinal One with Italy in hot pursuit. Sean Murphy of Australia joined the leaders as Italy’s Goretti took a small lead. Galambos of Hungary held on to second and tried to keep Murphy at bay as Goretti moved further away from the field. Again Goretti did a kick and got clean water over Galambos and Murphy. Poland and Switzerland were fighting for fourth. Both Australia and Poland rated 38 in their battle for second. Goretti looked relaxed at his 35 stroke rate. Galambos was now closing on Goretti as the final sprint came into view. With 300m left the order stayed the same. Now Poland pushed as Ireland stopped rowing. Australia pushed hard and moved into second. Galambos held on >to third with Goretti winning in a time of 6:49.44 – the fastest qualifying time.
Semifinal Two was off with Aaron Latimer of Canada the first to show. The United States and Mexico were head-to-head for second with Great Britain, Turkey and Austria forming a line in the fight for fourth. Canada’s lead had dwindled and now Samuel Mottram of Great Britain did a huge piece and come from the back of the field with Mexico taking the lead and Mottram coming through to third. Canada was in trouble. Lopez of Mexico had a half boat length lead as Great Britain moved into second. Lopez at 39, Mottram at 38 held the first two spots. Austria was challenging Canada. Latimer held on to third.
Qualifiers: ITA, AUS, HUN, MEX, GBR, CAN
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Semifinals
The incredibly experienced Marie-Louise Draeger of Germany was the boat to beat in Semifinal One. Draeger broke away to an open water lead with a line of scullers forming behind her between the rest of the field. Great Britain had a small edge followed by South Africa and Ireland who continued to change places. Australia now joined in the South Africa versus Ireland battle. Draeger’s lead had been reduced with Great Britain closing. South Africa got the edge over Australia. Great Britain was at 36 strokes per miunte with South Africa at 38. Draeger’s winning time: 7:32. Great Britain’s Madeleine Arlett took second and Nicole van Wyk of South Africa was third.
It was Chiaki Tomita of Japan out in front at the start of Semifinal Two. Canada followed in second with the Netherlands in third. These three boats managed to break away from the chasing boats. Then Canada’s Ellen Gleadow did a push and got up with Tomita and then took the lead. Tomita held on and this helped her hold off Martine Veldhuis of the Netherlands. Tomita went to 33, Veldhuis to 35 as the finish of the race came into view. Canada continued to push away to cross the line in first.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR, RSA, CAN, JPN, NED
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Repechage
The top two boats from each of the two repecahges would get to the final and also qualify for the Olympic Games. In Repechage One Poland and Great Britain qualified with the World Champions Poland recording a time of 6:12. The US had missed out by 0.18 of a second. Repechage Two had Germany and New Zealand qualify with Italy only just missing out.
Qualifiers: POL, GBR, GER, NZL