Plovdiv semifinals set the stage for the big day
The 2011 European Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, continued under sunny, clear skies with barely a breath of wind. Today’s racing of semifinals decided the remaining boats that would make it through to tomorrow’s finals. In the blue riband women’s single sculls, recently crowned World Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic showed her top form while Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis became the one to beat in the men’s single sculls.
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Semifinals
Italy’s Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini must have been feeling relatively confident coming through from an easy win in yesterday’s heats. Today the Italians comfortably reeled in the fast-starting Belarusians to take over the lead in semifinal one. Romania (Pirghie and Palamariu) then came through to battle hard with Mornati and Carboncini having to keep the pressure on. The Italians then managed to break away leaving the Netherlands, Belarus and Romania to fight it out for the two remaining qualifying spots. Romania and Belarus (Tatarchuk and Varanoi) prevailed to earn positions in the final. Italy was able to cruise at the front rating 34.
Results: ITA, ROU, BLR, NED, GER, BUL
The second semifinal was led from start to finish by Greece’s Nikolas and Apostolos Gkountoulas. The twin brothers currently feature as World Rowing’s September Athletes of the Month.
This left Poland (Mattik and Schodowski), Serbia (Popovic and Stojic) and Spain (Sigurbjonsson Benet and Vela Maggi) giving it their all to make it into the remaining two qualifying spots. Only Russia had dropped off the pace. In a big sprint to the line, Spain totally ran out of steam. Mattik and Schodowksi turned on a massive sprint as Spain virtually stopped rowing with major steering problems. Meanwhile Popovic and Stojic retained their strength to got into second. At the line Greece, Serbia and Poland had qualified for the final.
Results: GRE, SRB, POL, HUN, RUS, ESP
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals
It must feel good to be the reigning World Champion. Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic won this event at the 2011 World Rowing Championships two weeks ago – finally. Today, in semifinal one, Knapkova showed her new confidence by taking the lead and leaving the rest of the field looking like they were standing still. Knapkova was able to cruise the second 1000m of the race after building up such a lead in the first half of the race. After getting the better of Nataliya Dovgodko of Ukraine, Russia’s Julia Levina moved into second and remained there for the rest of the race. Dovgodko finished third. Knapkova, Levina and Dovgodko are through to the final on Sunday.
Results: CZE, RUS, UKR, EST, ITA, BUL
After an opening fast start by Germany, Lithuania’s Donata Vistartaite took over in the lead of semifinal two. Vistartaite is just 22 years old and she is the 2010 and 2011 Under-23 World Champion. She then went on to finish ninth at the World Rowing Championships to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. Agata Gramatyka of Poland moved into second behind Vistartaite but could not get close enough to challenge for the lead. Vistartaite crossed the finish line in first with Gramatyka coming through in second and Greece’s Aikaterini Nikolaidou coming through to take the final qualifying spot in third.
Results: LTU, POL, GRE, ROU, GER, FRA
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals
When men’s single scullers go under seven minutes you know that a high-quality race has happened. In semifinal one the three qualifying boats all went under the magic seven minute time. The race started out with Mitchel Steenman of the Netherlands getting off to a flying start and taking the lead in the first 150m. The more experienced Mario Vekic of Croatia and Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis then pushed ahead with Griskonis and Vekic holding a head-to-head battle at the front of the field.
Coming into the last 500m of the race Griskonis had a couple of seconds over Vekic with Steenman putting in another burst to threaten Vekic’s second place spot. The Croatian did just enough to hold off the determined Dutch man and retain his position. Griskonis, Vekic and Steenman all have spots in tomorrow’s final.
Results: LTU, CRO, NED, BUL, GRE, SVK
Semifinal two turned out to be much more sedate with not one sculler finishing under the seven-minute mark. Through the first half of the race Russia’s Denis Pribyl and Falko Nolte of Germany held a stroke for stroke competition. Pribyl, 22, has been chipping away at his rowing results at the under-23 level and this is his first time at the European Rowing Championships. The Pribyl-Nolte battle continued into the final sprint with now Michal Sloma of Poland joining in. This is Sloma’s fifth European Championships, racing most commonly in the double sculls.
As the finish line came into view, Nolte, Sloma and Pribyl remained tucked tightly together. Germany, Poland and Russia qualify for the final.
Results: GER, POL, RUS, ITA, BEL, HUN