Rivalry – the TA mixed double sculls
In what is heralded by most rowers here as the most competitive adaptive regatta ever, the rivalry in all boat classes has seriously stepped up a notch at Eton Dorney, where the second ever Paralympic Rowing Regatta is being held.
The TA mixed double sculls (TAMix2x) is no exception, and capacity crowds are anticipating excruciatingly close racing in the final tomorrow.
One TAMix2x stands out from the rest – the Chinese. On the World Best Time-breaking first day of the Paralympic Rowing Regatta, Xiaoxian Lou and Tianming Fei smashed the World Best Time, set by the French just moments before, to lower the margin to 3:54.92 and win their heat in commanding fashion over the new pairing from the United States of America, Oksana Masters and Robert Jones. In the previous heat, France and Great Britain had a great battle, France getting the better of the Brits in the final 250m to record 4:00.0, a new World Best Time, before China took to the water just afterwards to rewrite history.
Following the heats, Perle Bouge couldn’t hide her happiness: “We applied what our trainer had told us to do and it worked. We were pleased to beat the British. They had the crowd support and we used it. This win gives us confidence. It will just be mental now. It’s all in the head.”
Great Britain were just behind on 4:03.33, whilst USA recorded 4:01.00 against the Chinese. Both boats won their repechages today over Italy and Australia to move into the A-final full of confidence.
Nicholas Beighton of the British TA mixed double sculls told us: “We’re really confident, we’re really happy we’ve moved on massively since last year, and we know there’s still more to come, we can squeeze that last little bit out when it counts. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, just to go out there and do ourselves proud.”
Beighton’s doubles partner Samantha Scowen agreed: “I just want to go out there and make people proud and put in a performance that I’m proud of. We knew what we wanted to do today when we got on the start line. We wanted to race our own race and take control of the field and we did, we really pulled together, and we both had a brilliant race, so we are very happy.”
The US crew are making their international debut this year, but are brimming with confidence. Oksana Masters said: “I’m excited, I’m anxious to know what’s going to happen. When you know you’ve trained and done everything you can, and walked off the water or out of the gym knowing there is not one thing you would change about that practice, it’s a really good feeling having that at the start line. I’ve done as much as I could to be here.”
Robert Jones, Masters’ partner, kept his head focused on what was yet to come: “We need to make sure we are as fresh as possible tomorrow, and then try to catch the Chinese.”
Don’t write off the Australians however. Kathryn Ross, silver medallist in this boat class in Beijing has a lot of experience and knows how to win medals. She won world bronze in 2010 and 2011 and gold with new partner Gavin Bellis at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Munich three months ago.
“Winning a medal would be the ultimate dream,” she says. “I have done a lot of work in the last four years to be in the best position we can be along with Gavin. Both of us together, I think we can do something. But if not, I am very happy with how we have rowed.”
As the United States of America, Great Britain, Italy, Australia, France and China prepare to line up against each other tomorrow, the fight for the medals will be as fierce as ever.