In a morning dominated by lightweight racing Poland finished first in both the men’s and women’s lightweight quadruple sculls. Belarus won the men’s coxed pair, while the very competitive lightweight men’s eight was won by Germany.
Rowers faced hot 30 degree Celsius conditions with barely any wind on the Plovdiv regatta course.

Men’s Coxed Pair (M2+) – Final
As the first final of these 2012 World Rowing Senior and Junior Championships the men’s coxed pair really set the tone fast and strong racing. Belarus took off in the lead and by the middle of the race Belarus had a nice margin of three seconds over Canada. Coming through from Wednesday’s heats France had recorded the fastest time with Canada second fastest. What could these two crews do today?

As the final sprint came into view Belarus remained in front with three other crews storming through to the finish – Canada, Italy and France. It was going to be tight. Italy had the status of reigning World Champions and they were now giving it their all. France also came charging through with Canada’s Peter McClelland and Kai Langerfeld with coxswain Dane Lawson holding on. Meanwhile Belarus’s Stanislau Shcharbachenia, Aliaksandr Kazubouski and coxswain Piotr Piatrynick remained in front. Shcharbachenia and Kazubouski both raced at the London Olympics in their country’s four and they were showing their Olympic prowess today.

At the line Belarus had become the World Champions. France (Michael Molina and Benjamin Lang with coxswain Benjamin Manceau) came through to second with Canada holding on to third over the flying Italians.

Aliaksandr Kazubouski (BLR) – Gold
“It was a good day and we didn’t expect the gold medal.  It is my first medal and we rowed in this boat for the first time.  The conditions were excellent, but it was a bit difficult in the heat.  But we were strong and this was great after rowing in the B final at the Olympics.”

Benjamin Lang (FRA) – Silver
“It was very close and we are disappointed. We tried a massive finish, but we were too far off.  We came here to win, because we had a hard season after not making the Olympics.  But it is still a medal. ”

Peter McClelland (CAN) – Bronze
“That last 250 was painful. I was really messed up by that point but these two were strong and held on.  We knew we’d won the bronze, but only just.  Slightly disappointed that we didn’t hold on to the silver but France rowed really well through from 1500m.  If you’d asked me two months ago I would have said I’d retire at the end of the season, but having missed out on the Olympics by just one place, I’m going to take some time to think about it to see if I still have the hunger because it’s a pretty tough existence.”

Romania’s Ionel Strungaru and Ciprian Duduta tried to qualify for the Olympic men’s pair earlier this season. They missed out so decided to race at the Plovdiv World Championships in the coxed pair with Florin Stefan. They led easily from start to finish and were able to cross the finish line at a relatively easy 32 stroke rate pace. Still it was evident that they had put the work in through the race as Duduta slumped over his oar at the finish. Poland overtook Ukraine in the final sprint to come in second.
Results: ROU, POL, UKR

Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) – Final
Poland recorded the fastest time through the heats on Wednesday and they also won at the final Samsung World Rowing Cup in Munich back in June. They were the favourites coming into this final. And just to prove the punters right, Poland got out to a handy lead with Denmark slotting into second.

Gold medallists Magdalena Kemnitz, Jaclyn Halko, Agnieszka Renc and Weronika Deresz of Poland pose for the photo after the medal ceremony of the lightweight women's quadruple sculls at the 2012 World Rowing Senior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

With Poland (Magdalena Kemnitz, Jaclyn Halko, Agnieszka Renc and Weronika Deresz) looking relatively comfortable in the lead, Denmark were having a real battle through the middle of the race with Italy and Australia. Denmark had finished second in Munich while Italy had taken third. Would the order today reflect the last time these crews raced?

As the final 300m came into view Poland, rating 38 remained out in front. The real battle was going on for the silver medal between Denmark and Italy. Despite Italy’s 42 stroke rate, Denmark got to the line ahead of the them. Denmark had become the silver medallists for 2012 with Italy taking bronze.

Jaclyn Halko (POL) – Gold
“We expected to win the gold medal.  We’ve enjoyed our stay in Bulgaria and visited a lot of places.  It’s always great to visit a new country and we really like the rowing venue.  We even like the heat here!”

Christina Pultz (DEN) – Silver
“It was a tough race.  We had hoped that we would win a medal.  The conditions are perfect.”

Erika Bello (ITA) – Bronze
“What a shame, we just missed out on second.  But it was a great race, we had a good start and managed to respond well throughout the race.  It’s been a fantastic crew and the medal is great and I’m very happy as it is a nice finish to a challenging season after missing out on the Olympics.”

The four boat line up in this B-final indicated the depth of entries in this event at Plovdiv. Three boats – Korea, Canada and Sweden – took off together and coming through the third 500 they were still on top of each other with Japan just a little back. As all of these boats sprinted to the finish line the gaps between crews got closer and closer. Korea, who had had a slight leading edge throughout the race, were getting tired.

With 200m left to row Sweden, rating 35, got their nose ahead of Korea and Canada, at 41, was also moving on Korea. At the line Sweden had got there first to claim seventh overall at these World Rowing Championships.
Results: SWE, CAN, KOR, JPN

Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Final
There was no doubting the talent coming into this final. Italy were the reigning World Champions but in the heats and semifinals the Italians had not managed to record a win. Instead it looked like Poland and Greece had what it would take as the two semifinal winners. But every day is a new day and there was no doubt that this would be a fight to the line by all of the crews.
From left to right: Silver medallists Greece (Georgios Konsolas, Nikolaos Afentoulis, Panagiotis, Eleftherios Konsolas), gold medallists Poland (Adam Sobczak, Mariusz Stanczuk, Artur Mikolajczewski, Milosz Jankowski) and bronze medallists China (Liang Yangyang, Yang Guo, Guofeng Fa, Deming Kong) pose for the photo after the lightweight men's quadruple sculls medal ceremony at the 2012 World Rowing Senior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

At the start it was not surprising to see Greece in the lead. They had already proved to be fast starters. The question was could they hold it to the end. Greece’s crew included Eleftherios Konsolas and Panagiotis Magdanis who both competed at the London Olympics in the lightweight men’s double and they were showing their Olympic style here in Plovdiv.

Greece still had the lead at the half-way point with surprisingly China being the nearest challenger. This Chinese crew is a provincial crew and are new to international competition. As expected the margins closed coming into the final sprint and as China faded Poland came storming through. Poland had been back in fourth and after overtaking Italy they moved on China and Greece. Could Greece hold on? At the line the Poles had made it two in a row for their nation by winning both the women’s and men’s lightweight quads. Greece got the second and China just held on to bronze. Italy were out of the medals for the first time in years.  So were Germany who had been the 2011 silver medallists.

Mariusz Stanczuk (POL) – Gold
“I’m very excited.  I’ve been waiting for a gold medal for a long time and this is the first time.  I’ve been on the national team since 2001 and I hope I will make it to the next Olympic Games.”

Panagiotis Magdanis (GRE) – Silver
“When we first arrived here we thought we would be able to win this.  But the Polish were very strong competition today and we could not respond as quickly and well as we had hoped to.”

Kong Deming (CHN) – Bronze
“This is the first time I have competed abroad and it’s been excellent.  I’m really pleased with the race and winning the bronze, but I want to do better. After this season I will keep trying to improve and aim for Brazil in 2016.”

A full fleet of 15 countries started in this event and today these six boats raced for position seven to 12 in the world. Japan got away very quickly. Japan had designed their hair colour to match their country colours and they were doing their country proud as the Japanese remained in front moving through the middle of the field and rating an aggressive 37 stroke rate. Brazil followed very closely in second.
Coming into the final sprint Japan held a half boat length lead over Brazil as they took their stroke rate to 39. But the other five boats were now at full sprint. The United States, who had a very tight photo finish but just missed out on the A-Final in their semifinal yesterday, were now flying at a 45 stroke rate. So were Hungary. It was going to be close. Japan remained in front with the United States sprinting through to second with Hungary grabbing third off Switzerland and Brazil.

Lightweight Men’s Eight (LM8+) – Final
Australia won this event last year with Italy second. In the heats Italy had raced and beaten Australia in one heat while Germany had won the second heat. Both Italy and Australia had retained some of their crew from 2011, with Germany filling their boat with four London Olympians and Olympic Champion men’s eight coxswain Martin Sauer. These crews met today in the final.
Matthias Schoemann-Finck (s), Jost Schoemann-Finck, Martin Kuehner, Jonas Schuetzeberg, Christian Hochbruck, Jochen Kuehner, Bastian Seibt, Lars Wichert and Martin Sauer of Germany pictured after winning the lightweight men's eight Final A at the 2012 World Rowing Senior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

At the start there was nothing in it with all six crews leaving the blocks together and remaining in a virtual line. Then Germany managed to get a small lead at the 250m mark settling into a strong 38 stroke rate rhythm. Italy followed incredibly closely in second. Germany then pushed away through the middle of the race with Italy finding themselves under threat from the Chinese. Last year China did not race in this event and they came to these finals through the repechage.

Coming into the final sprint Germany, who did not race this event last year, had worked their way to an almost clear water lead with Italy remaining just ahead of China. The sprint to the line saw Germany rating 37, Italy on 42 and China on 41. Germany’s Sauer continued his unbeaten record with his crew finishing first, Italy held on to second with a very happy China taking third.

Martin Sauer (GER) -- Gold
“We did everything to win this medal and gold was our goal.  This was a great race and a lot of fun too.  The crew really deserved this medal.  The course is good, no complaints.”

Martin Goretti (ITA) – Silver
“We were thinking we could win gold, but the Germans had a wonderful race.  I was at the Olympics two weeks ago and came sixth, so a medal here is nice.”

Ke Feng (CHN) – Bronze
“This is the first time China have medalled in the lightweight eight, we’re really pleased but we did think we were capable of doing it . We have come together from regional centres from all over China to make this crew.  I’d love it if this was an Olympic event and to race this at the next Games.”

This event began with nine countries and in the B-Final three boats raced to be seventh in the world. The Netherlands had the lead at the start. The margins, however, were close and the Dutch would have to keep the pace up to stay in front. The Netherlands then managed to break away through the middle of the race, using an impressive 39 stroke rate pace, leaving the United States and Hungary to go neck-and-neck.

As these boats came into the end of the race the Netherlands remained in the lead with Hungary doing a big 40 stroke rate push. The Dutch would have to keep the pressure on. And they did. Hungary, by over-rating the United States took second.
Results: NED, HUN, USA