Quarterfinals signal potential medal favourites at World Rowing Championships
Another great day on the water at the 2019 World Rowing Championships saw the boats with the largest number of entries competing in the quarterfinals. Flat calm conditions, clear skies and hot temperatures saw these rowers race to be in a top three position to make it through to the semifinals. This was not just about making the semifinals but also about keeping Olympic qualification hopes alive. Any boat that did not make their semifinal would be out of contention for an Olympic qualifying spot at this regatta.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Quarterfinal
In each of these quarterfinals it was up to crews to be in a top three position to advance to the semifinals. Quarterfinal One was led from start to finish by the World Champions Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens. This is their first international regatta together this season and they are putting themselves back into the favourite category. In the sprint to the line four boats went for three spots with Ukraine only just missing out. Australia’s Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre was the crew to beat in Quarterfinal Two. They have already medalled this season at the World Cups and they led this race right through to the finish. Ireland and Italy held their own tussle for the full 2000m with Ireland finishing just ahead of Italy at the line.
Quarterfinal Three featured the World Best Time holders, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand. They finished with silver at last year’s World Rowing Championships and at this regatta they are also racing in the women’s eight. The New Zealand duo led the entire race and looked like they were cruising at the end, but still managing to record the fastest qualifying time overall. Chile and Spain raced each other for second and grabbed the two remaining qualifying spots. The United States crew of Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser grabbed the lead at the start of Quarterfinal Four. Both are Olympians with Kalmoe having an international career that goes back to 2005. The US pushed away from Romania and China where were racing each other and both rating 37 strokes per minute coming into the final sprint. No other boats challenged for a qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: CAN, GRE, GBR, AUS, IRL, ITA, NZL, ESP, CHI, USA, ROU, CHN
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Quarterfinals
Current stars of the men’s pair, the Sinkovic brothers of Croatia lined up in Quarterfinal One. The Sinkovics are the World Champions but have had an up and down 2019 season due to injury. They took the lead at the start and by the middle of the race they had a clear water lead over the rest of the field. France took chase and managed to close the gap, which left an incredibly tight battle for third between Turkey and Belarus. At the line Belarus had finished just a fraction ahead of Turkey. Quarterfinal Two opened with Italy’s Matteo Lodo and Giuseppe Vicino in the lead. This duo last raced together in the men’s four in 2018. Canada and Romania took chase with Denmark also on the page. But then Poland stopped after breaking an oar. The umpire red flag went up and this race will be re-rowed.
The race was rescheduled as the last race of the day to give recovery time. Italy got away the quickest just like the race earlier in the day with Canada and Chile the closest challengers. The same three pairs that crossed the line first earlier today now became the leading three. This was Italy then Canada, then Romania. These three broke away from the rest of the field and despite all being in qualification spots they all charged for the finish line rating on the love 40s. Italy and Romania crossed at almost the same time. Italy had won by a fraction.
Quarterfinal Three had Australia’s Sam Hardy and Joshua Hicks out in front at the start with Serbia and the Czech Republic right on the pace. Then the Serbians got into the lead. Australia fought back and these two boats went head to head. Now Spain joined in these two leaders coming into the final sprint. Australia went to 42 and tried to overtake Martin Mackovic and Milos Vasic of Serbia. Australia was at 43 and Serbia at 38 looked to be rowing in panic. Australia had won. Quarterfinal Four was led from start to finish by New Zealand’s Thomas Murray and Michael Brake. It was really tight over the field at the start before New Zealand and South Africa and the United States got a slight margin. It was four boats going for three spots in the ending sprint. The United States only just missed out and New Zealand recorded the fastest overall qualifying time.
Qualifiers: CRO, FRA, BLR, AUS, ESP, SRB, NZL, RSA, GBR, ITA, ROU, CAN
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Quarterfinals
At the start of Quarterfinal One it was Italy’s Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta in the lead with Norway Portugal and New Zealand chasing hard. At the half way point it remained tight for the third qualifying spot with Italy and Norway managing to break away. Margins closed again in the final sprint with had over a second separating the top four boats. Portugal had missed out on qualifying by just half a second. Germany’s Jonathan Rommelmann and Jason Osborne have had an unbeaten 2019 season and they took the lead in Quarterfinal Two. The race remained tight at the half way point with five crews remaining within striking distance of a qualifying spot. The sprint to the line saw Germany remain in front with Denmark the unlucky crew missing out on qualifying by half a second.
Spain was the first to show in Quarterfinal Three. But it was oh so tight with all crews remaining in a good position to qualify. Spain still led at the half way point. Then the Irish did a push and Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan got their nose in front. Spain held on but now had Poland chasing them. This tussle had three boats move away from the rest of the field with Poland now solidly in third. The qualifiers had been decided. The Irish took first with Spain and Poland in second and third respectively. For Quarterfinal Four China raced the perfect race. Man Sun and Junjie Fan of China led at the start and did just enough to stay ahead of any challenges. The first one came from Australia and then from Belgium. China was able to underrate their competitors in the final sprint to finish first.
Qualifiers: ITA, NOR, NZL, GER, CZE, CAN, IRL, ESP, POL, CHN, BEL, AUS
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Quarterfinals
Racing today has often seen one crew get out at the start and lead for the entire race. This is exactly what happened in Quarterfinal One. Emily Craig and Imogen Grant of Great Britain got out in front and never looked back. But they did not have an easy time of it with Italy and Switzerland chasing hard. These three crews soon moved away from any threat to their qualifying spots and the race was all but decided before the final sprint had even started. Quarterfinal Two opened with Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle having a bit of a lead. The New Zealand duo come to these World Championships having won both World Cups that they entered this season. South Africa followed in second with Canada in third. South Africa has been going through internal selection that saw three athletes going for two spots in this boat. Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler got the spots. The three leading crews had no challenges from the rest of the field and it was close to a procession at the end with New Zealand recording the fastest time overall. Their time of 6:52 was just five seconds off the World Best Time
Quarterfinal Three saw China, the Netherlands and Belarus have the best start. China led the way. But this Chinese lead did not last long with Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherland pushing ahead. Belarus then got ahead of China with the Chinese qualifying spot now under threat from Australia. In the final sprint China had no more to give and slipped out of contention. France’s Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove had the lead at the start of Quarterfinal Four. The United States chased hard and this saw France and the US get a bit of a gap over the rest of the field. The World Champions, Romania got into third and seemed to have no threat for that final qualifying spot from the rest of the field. The order did not change through to the line.
Qualifiers: GBR, SUI, ITA, NZL, RSA, CAN, NED, BLR, AUS, FRA, USA, ROU
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Quarterfinals
Germany and Slovenia had the fastest start in Quarterfinal One. But then Poland’s Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup did a very well-timed push and overtook Germany, Slovenia and Ireland to get into the lead. Ireland and Germany looked to be the only ones able to hold on to Poland’s speed. These three boats now moved clean away from the rest of the field. The only thing now was to decide the finishing order. The order did not change and there was no big closing sprint. In Quarterfinal Two the French World Champions lined up. This crew of Boucheron and Androdias have not had such a good season and they came out in third place at the start. Out in front was Amos Keijser and Nicolas van Sprang of the Netherlands. Their lead was tiny though and three boats went through the half way point in tight succession – Lithuania in second. This order did not change through to the end and it looked like only the Dutch kept the pressure on right to the line.
In Quarterfinal Three the Swiss set the pace at the start and they still had the lead going through the middle of the race. But then John Collins and Graeme Thomas of Great Britain began to move. The British duo often prove to have a much better second half to their race and going through the third 500 they managed to find the lead over Switzerland. The Swiss duo of Delarze and Roeoesli, however, were not giving up. The British and Swiss charged for the finish line together. Australia, rating 43 in the final sprint, took the third qualifying spot.
Quarterfinal Four ended with the fastest overall qualifying time when China’s Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang did their best to stay in the lead and hold off Romania and New Zealand who were battling for second. These three countries had open water over the rest of the field but they still took each other on with China looking the most relaxed.
Qualifiers: POL, IRL, GER, NED, LTU, FRA, GBR, SUI, AUS, CHN, NZL, ROU
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Quarterfinals
At the start of Quarterfinal One it was the 2012 Olympic medallist Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark in the lead. Erichsen held this through to the half way point. They Kara Kohler of the United States began to really move. Kohler finished fourth last year in this boat class. She also has a 2012 Olympic bronze medal from the quad. Once in front Kohler went for complete domination. This left a full on tussle to go on between Erichsen and local favourite Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. Lobnig won the tussle. Quarterfinal Two was the perfect race for Victoria Thornley of Great Britain. The Rio Olympic medallist (from the double) led from start to finish. Canada and China fought it out for second with Canada getting the margin at the finish.
New Dutch single sculls, Laila Youssifou was the leader at the start of Quarterfinal Three. It didn’t last long as New Zealand’s Emma Twigg came pushing through. Twigg is on a comeback that saw her take a break from international competition after the Rio Olympics. She has won both World Cups that she entered this season. Twigg led through to the finish with Switzerland getting ahead of the Netherlands to take the second qualifying spot. It was all about World Champion Sanita Puspure of Ireland in Quarterfinal Four. Puspure led from start to finish and at the line, despite having no competition she recorded the fastest qualifying time overall. Way back the Czech Republic followed in second with Ukraine in third.
Qualifiers: USA, AUT, DEN, GBR, CAN, CHN, NZL, SUI, NED, IRL, CZE, UKR
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Quarterfinals
Quarterfinal One had Switzerland getting away the fastest. The lead then changed with Greece’s Stefanos Ntouskos getting out in front. Racing was far from over as Stef Broenink of the Netherlands did a piece through the third 500 and overtook Ntouskos. The race looked all but over. But it wasn’t. from the back of the field and four seconds down on Broenink, Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan camp flying. He overtook Belarus, France and then Switzerland to get into the third qualifying spot. Switzerland started to paddle before the finish line. He had no more to give. Quarterfinal Two opened with the World Champion Ketjil Borch of Norway in the lead. It closed with him still in the lead. Serbia was second to Borch for half of the race but then didn’t have enough to give in the second half. New Zealand’s Robbie Manson did. Manson moved through from the back of the field to get into second ahead of Olympic medallist Damir Martin of Croatia. The finishing order was decided.
It was Oliver Zeidler of Germany the whole way in Quarterfinal Three. Zeidler led over Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania with Poland in third. This order stayed the same through to the finish with Poland going to 39 at the end just to make sure Turkey wouldn’t catch him. Quarterfinal Four showed the style of Olympic and World medallist, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Synek has medalled every year since 2005 and he showed his pedigree by taking his time to work through to the lead and once there doing just enough to hold off any challenge. At the end of these quarterfinals less than a second separated the winning times.
Qualifiers: NED, GRE, AZE, NOR, NZL, CRO, GER, LTU, POL, CZE, DEN, ITA
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Quarterfinals
Quarterfinal One opened with Pater Galambos of Hungary in the lead. Samuel Mottram of Great Britain did not make it easy for Galambos and remained in check right through to the line. Galambos was able to stay in front but the finishing margin was small. Poland qualified from fourth. Austria’s Rainer Kepplinger had the lead at the start of Quarterfinal Two, but by the half way point Jan Schaeuble of Switzerland had the lead. This got the cow bells going at the finish line. Going through the middle of the race less than two seconds separated the top four boats with Alexis Lopez Garcia of Mexico now really beginning to move. The final sprint saw Lopez in the lead. Schaueble went to 43 to try and stay with him. Austria held on to third.
Quarterfinal Three was one close race at the start. Less than two seconds separated the field with Sean Murphy of Australia holding a slight lead. This was despite Gary O’Donovan of Ireland jumping off the line at a 54 stroke rate. Then Serbia took over in front as the margins remained tight. Coming into the final sprint three boats were locked together at the head of the field – Canada, Serbia and Australia. Three boats were locked together just behind – Ireland, Germany and New Zealand. Canada’s Aaron Lattimer then went for it. So did O’Donovan. Murphy held on. Canada had won. Italy’s Martino Goretti led the way in Quarterfinal four. Goretti got out for a bit of a lead and by the middle of the race he had a huge open water lead over the rest of the field. This left the rest of the field to fight for the remaining qualifying spots. And they did with the US making the best of it in the final sprint. Goretti at the end had recorded the fastest overall qualifying time.
Qualifiers: HUN, GBR, POL, MEX, SUI, AUT, CAN, AUS, IRL, ITA, USA, TUR