Ready for change in lightweight women's single
18/08/2012 - 16:39:00
The 2011 World Champion, Fabiane Beltrame of Brazil, will not be defending her title in the lightweight women's single scull to be raced Sunday 19 August at the 2012 World Rowing Senior & Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Both Beltrame and last year’s silver medallist, Pamela Weisshaupt (SUI) failed to make it into the final of the lightweight women’s single.
In fact, only one of last year’s A-finalists will line up to battle for gold, silver and bronze. Ursula Grobler (USA) will be looking to get herself into the medals after coming fourth at the World Championships last year. This will also be the pinnacle of her season, as she missed out on the only lightweight women’s Olympic boat class, the lightweight women’s double sculls. So far at this regatta Grobler is doing well. She narrowly won the second semifinal by just 0.07 seconds over Austria’s Michaela Taupe-Traer and 0.40 seconds over Belarus’ Alena Kryvasheyenka.
Taupe-Traer is also in the form of her life. In her 26 years of rowing, sixth is the highest she has ever placed at a World Championships, but she comes into the regatta with two gold and a bronze from the Samsung World Rowing Cup 2012 series.
What has changed for this experienced lightweight? “I trained more than last season in terms of quantity… and this winter I also changed my technique which worked really well – we tried something new and it works.” Taupe-Traer has had a couple of disappointing and frustrating seasons in the double, which she was rowing in to try to qualify for the Olympic Games in the lightweight women's double, but she decided to focus on the single this year instead. So far, that decision has paid dividends.
Another athlete with great form in the single this season is the Belarusian sculler, the youngest competitor in this final. Fresh from winning the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Trakai, Lithuania, Kryvasheyenka may be looking to emulate the success of her nation’s legendary single sculler, Ekaterina Karsten.
Perhaps the most surprising athlete in the field is Denmark’s Rikke Quist. Following her unexpected silver medal in the heavyweight category at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships, Quist was offered the chance by her federation to race as a lightweight in Plovdiv. She only had only four weeks preparation, which included making sure she was under the maximum weight allowance of 59kgs. She also spent a week in London so she could watch her brother, Rasmus Quist, finally take gold in the lightweight men’s double sculls at the Olympic Games. During this time Quist trained solely on the indoor rowing machine. Quist's performance is even more extraordinary considering that she has had two operations on her hips, one in 2010 and one in the summer of 2011, “It’s been a really, really good year, I’m really overwhelmed. I didn’t see it coming” she says.
Feisty Lucy Strack of New Zealand will be racing with something to prove. After qualifying the lightweight double for the London Olympics in Bled last year, she has been plagued by a back injury all year.
“I was forced to take a break in December and January… that was pretty hard, especially because the double is my little baby. We haven’t had a New Zealand lightweight women’s double in years and I was so overwhelmed when we qualified. It was devastating to realise that I couldn’t row at the London Olympics,” says Strack.
Depsite the painful setback, Strack has managed to retain her fighting spirit, “I didn’t come here to make up the numbers.”
Also in the final, Alexandra Tsiavou of Greece won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games just two and half weeks ago. “When I went home I had such a great welcome from my town, Igoumenista, and this made me so happy that after this I said, yes, I will do it. They give me so much power… I am here to fight for one more medal for my country, this is very important to me.”
Named Greek Female Athlete of the Year in 2009, Tsiavou has the greatest rowing pedigree of the finalists. Double Under-23 Champion in the single and double World Champion in the double, the Greek won her heat in the fastest time of the day, a length clear of second placed Quist. Tsiavou is likely to be the one to beat, but with so many upsets in this event so far, the medal winners could come from any of the lanes.