Second chance to make it to Paralympic rowing finals
Rowers returned to the waters of Eton Dorney for a second chance to make it through to the final at the London 2012 Paralympic Rowing Regatta. Today’s repechages included rowers who had missed out on qualifying for the final in yesterday’s heats. In each of the four events there were two repechages with the top two in each race earning a spot in Sunday’s final.
The weather behaved marvellously for the rowers with cool, overcast conditions and just a smidgen of wind that barely disturbed the Dorney Lake waters.
AS Women’s Single Sculls (ASW1x) – Repechages
Racing in Repechage One after finishing second yesterday in the heats, 2007 World Champion and 2008 Paralympian Claudia Santos from Brazil had the fastest qualifying time from the heats. Santos led from the start but by the middle of the race Moran Samuel of Israel had closed on Santos.
Last year at the World Rowing Championships Samuel finished third while Santos finished fifth. Today was a new race however and coming through the third quarter of the race Samuel got her bow ahead of Santos then sprinted all out for the line. Santos tried to hold on but had to be content with second. No other boat was anywhere near these two leaders. Samuel and Santos had made it into the final.
Nathalie Benoit of France finished second in yesterday’s heats and thus missed out on going directly to the final. Today Benoit raced in Repechage Two with her stiffest competition coming from Canada’s Joan Reid. A former wheelchair basketball champion Benoit began rowing in 2009 and became a World Champion in 2010 and a world silver medallist in 2011. Reid qualified for the Beijing Paralympic Games but an injury prevented her from participating. She is back to give it a go in 2012.
Benoit took a length’s lead early on in the race and by the first 250m mark she had already broken away to an open water lead. Reid followed in second being challenged aggressively by Jongrye Lee of Korea. Then as Lee began to run out of energy, Reid began to close in on Benoit. Using a huge piece at the 600m mark, Reid not only got her boat overlapping with Benoit but was in striking distance of overtaking. Benoit, however, reacted beautifully and again drew away from Reid. At the line Benoit and Reid had qualified for the 2012 Paralympic Games final.
Qualifiers: ISR, BRA, FRA, CAN
Moran Samuel (ISR)
"I'm so excited. I can't explain how I feel. The crowd is amazing, they gave me enormous strength. It was important to win to get a good lane. We all want to win gold but realistically the Ukrainian girl (Alla Lysenko) is unbeatable. But there are four other strong competitors fighting for two medals."
Nathalie Benoit (FRA)
"I started quickly to lead the race early and that definitely went better than yesterday. At the end, I lost a bit of energy. I wanted to save some for tomorrow (for the final). Tomorrow will be difficult because we all know who is going to win. Even if she is ill, I think Lysenko (UKR) will still have enough. The rest of us are fighting for two places on the podium."
AS Men’s Single Sculls (ASM1x) – Repechages
Repechage One opened with Jun-Ha Park of Korea in the lead. finished second in his heat yesterday, thus just missing out on qualifying directly for the final. Today Park made no mistakes as he held the lead through the middle of the race. But Australia’s Erik Horrie was closing in fast. Horrie came to adaptive rowing in 2011 and finished third last year at the World Rowing Championships. Just last week he became a father for the third time.
Once Horrie identified a potential leading position he didn’t give up and by the 600m mark Horrie was ahead of Park. Horrie remained unrelenting, finishing the race at a 35 stroke rate pace to cross the line in first with an open-water lead. Park, who rowed for 20 years as an able-bodied rower, held on to second to qualify for the final along with crowd favourite, Horrie. Surprisingly United States regular and 2008 Paralympic finalist Ronald Harvey missed out on making the final.
Russia’s 2011 world silver medallist, Aleksey Chuvashev, finished second in the heats yesterday and thus did not advance directly to the final. But his time in the heats was faster than the former World Best Time. Chuvashev raced in the middle lane in Repechage Two. But it was Luciano Luna de Oliveira of Brazil who got out to an early lead, but only just, over Chuvashev. Settling into a 35 stroke rate Chuvashev then pushed ahead of the Brazilian and by the middle of the race Chuvashev, who became disabled from injuries sustained while serving in the Russian army, had a small lead. But Luna de Oliveira kept the pressure on and coming into the final sprint Luna de Oliveira was still within striking distance of Chuvashev.
Chuvashev, however, had the experience and the energy and he managed to squeeze away from the Brazilian to finish with a full boat length lead. Both Brazil and Russia were heading for their first ever Paralympic final in rowing.
Qualifiers: AUS, KOR, RUS, BRA
Luciano Luna de Oliveira (BRA)
"I am very happy because in the heat I was passed at the end by Ukraine and New Zealand rowers and this time I passed them. I am very confident. I'll have to row another strong race but I'm willing to do what it takes."
Erik Horrie (AUS)
"Rowing in the repechage didn't concern me. That's the joys of rowing. There is no easy option. I had a good row, I enjoyed it. I would have been out on the water today anyway. I will approach the final the same as today. I know where we're all at. I am confident, but I'll take nothing for granted. Everyone is in there fighting for a medal."
Danny McBride (NZL)
"I am absolutely gutted. I thought I had a pretty good race in the conditions. I just got outrowed. The Brazilian (Luciano Luna de Oliveira) went out like a rocket as always. It is no excuse. I am a veteran. I train just as hard as everyone else. I want to win the B final. There is no point coming here if you don't want to win."
TA Mixed Double Sculls (TAMix2x) – Repechages
The middle lane, reserved for the fastest qualifier, was housed by home favourites, Great Britain, in Repechage One. Great Britain’s Nicholas Beighton and Samantha Scowen finished second to France yesterday and thus had to race the repechage today. Beighton and Scowen had the fastest start, but in one of the closest races so far today, they were being hunted relentlessly by Daniele Stefanoni and Silvia De Maria of Italy with Brazil’s Josiane Lima and Isaac Ribeiro also very much on the pace.
In the final sprint to the line Great Britain managed to stay just ahead of Italy and these two boats became the qualifiers for tomorrow’s final. This will be Stefanoni’s second Paralympic final. In 2008 he finished fourth with a former partner. For Beighton and Scowen it is their first Paralympic Games. Missing out in third was 2008 Paralympic bronze medallist, Josiane Lima of Brazil. She will now compete in tomorrow’s B-final.
The fastest qualifiers from the heats racing in Repechage Two were the United States duo of Oksana Masters and Rob Jones and they were expecting to face stiff competition from Australia’s Gavin Bellis and Kathryn Ross. This is the first Paralympic Games for both Masters and Jones with Jones coming to adaptive rowing after being injured while serving in the United States army. Ross is the silver medallist from the Beijing Paralympic Games and with her new partner, Bellis they won the last international race before the London Paralympic Games.
At the start, Ukraine (Iryna Kyrychenko and Dmytro Ivanov) leapt out into the lead, but with about 300m rowed Masters and Jones got their nose ahead of Ukraine with Ross and Bellis chasing hard. These three boats then went through the middle of the race practically on top of each other. This closeness remained coming into the final sprint with three boats all fighting for two spots.
Stroke rates got up to 49 strokes per minute and with 100m left to row Ukraine, Australia and the United States were in a virtual line. Ukraine then dropped off just enough to give the United States and Australia the two qualifying spots.
Qualifiers: GBR, ITA, USA, AUS
Nick Beighton (GBR)
"Chance plays a part in all our lives. There is a bad luck, stepping on an IED (improvised explosive device or roadside bomb) and there's a good one, getting into the Paralympic final."
Josiane Lima (BRA)
"We expect everyone to turn up in Rio in 2016 (Paralympic Games) and we want everyone to know that we will be ready."
LTA Mixed Coxed Four
LTAMix4+) – Repechages
Repechage One saw Ukraine take an early lead. Ukraine has a strong adaptive rowing team and this crew finished third at the last international race before these Paralympic Games. They also recorded a solid time in the heats yesterday when they finished second. By the middle of the race Ukraine had built up a handy lead with China following quite a bit back in second. Surprisingly Canada was even further back in third. The Canadians have a relatively stable crew with three of these athletes having raced at the 2008 Paralympic Games where they finished sixth. In 2010 they became the World Champions and they were second in 2011.
Coming into the finish line, nothing changed in the order. China had managed to close on Ukraine but Ukraine remained nicely in front. Ukraine and China earned spots in Sunday’s final with Canada, from finishing third, having to race in the B-final.
In Repechage Two Italy and the United States looked to be the top crews coming through from yesterday’s heats. At the start Italy had the lead. Italy is the reigning Paralympic Champion in this boat class, but the Italians finished tenth in 2011 and have been rebuilding in the lead up to London.
Coming into the middle of the race Italy still had the lead but it was very small with both France and the United States hanging on tightly to the Italians. These three crews continued to remain incredibly close with Brazil making it a hotly contended four-boat race coming into the final sprint. In the last 100m Italy gave it their all to cross the line in first. They were followed by an ever so close finish between Brazil, France and the United States. The Americans had done it. In a surge to the line the United States had secured their place in Sunday’s final along with Italy.
Qualifiers: UKR, CHN, ITA, USA
Olena Pukhaieva (UKR)
"The race was good, but we are not happy with this, we are happy with the result. We were tired after yesterday because it's difficult to race everyday. We hope for the best tomorrow, but we don't want people to know this. We will see what happens."
Meghan Montgomery (CAN)
"We are gutted. It just wasn't enough. We need to get off the water and look at some data, have some time to refocus for tomorrow (for the B final)."
Victoria Nolan (CAN)
"We are all really competitive and just want do well in whatever race we're in."
Andrew Johnson (USA)
"The crowd might think they are cheering for the British but we'll be using the crowd definitely. "We're young and strong and hungry and we need to use that to our advantage"
Alessandro Franzetti (ITA)
"My crew can only do our best and if we win a medal, then OK. We know we have worked hard for many months but so have the other crews. This will be the biggest crowd we have ever rowed in front of but it won't make us more nervous. It will charge us up - supercharged."