New European Best Time in championship semifinals
Beautiful and sunny weather welcomed athletes on the second day of racing at the 2017 European Rowing Championships, with semifinals and repechages on the programme. No wind and slightly bubbly but otherwise flat water guaranteed smooth conditions for the contestants in Racice, Czech Republic.
In the men's double sculls, an impressive finish by Belarus in the semifinals led to a new European Best Time in this event.
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) - Semifinals A/B
In Semifinal One, Patricia Merz of Switzerland had a strong start and by the 500m mark, she already had a length’s lead over the rest of the field, with local athlete Monika Novakova in second position and Ireland in third. The Irish lightweight single sculler Denise Walsh won silver in this event a few weeks ago in Belgrade at World Rowing Cup I.
In the second quarter, Walsh gradually moved up on and took over the Czech sculler, while Merz increased her lead, securing more than two boat lengths ahead of the field by the half-way mark. Meanwhile, Italy’s Clara Guerra, 18, the junior world champion, had managed to move into the third qualifying spot with Novakova falling behind. In the final quarter of the race Ireland’s Walsh closed in on the Swiss athlete, without managing to catch up before the finish. At the line, the positions remained the same, with Switzerland, Ireland and Italy qualifying for the A-final.
In Semifinal Two, Sweden’s Emma Fredh lined up in middle lane three. Fredh, the current world silver medallist in this event, had qualified for these semifinals with the fastest qualifying time. The field remained tighter than in the first semifinal with only two seconds separating the top five boats at the 500m mark. Just a few hundredths of a second separated Fredh, in front, from Germany’s Leonie Pieper, in second.
At the half-way mark, Fredh had increased her lead very slightly to half a boat length’s lead over Germany with Russia’s Anastasia Lebedeva, racing in lane one, slightly behind in third. Russia’s 24-year-old athlete then began to increase her rate to take over Pieper. The top three boats separated themselves increasingly over the rest of the field. At the line, the positions remained unchanged with Sweden in first, Russia in second and Germany in the third qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: SUI, IRL, ITA, SWE, RUS, GER
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) - Semifinals A/B
In Semifinal One, Norway’s Kristoffer Brun lined up in lane three. The Rio Olympic bronze medallist in the lightweight double sculls qualified from the heats with the fastest qualifying time. Brun took an early lead and maintained it until the half-way mark, with very little separating him from the rest of the field.
In the third quarter of the race, it was Hungary’s Peter Galambos in lane four who had moved into the lead. But the world silver medallist was unable to hold onto his lead as Norway’s Brun powered back past him into first. In the third qualifying spot, it was Poland’s Artur Mikolajczewski who guaranteed himself a spot in the A-final from the half-way mark onwards.
Italy’s Andrea Micheletti took the lead from the second quarter in Semifinal Two. Micheletti was a B-finalist at the Rio Olympic Rowing Regatta in the lightweight men’s double sculls. He remained untouchable until the line, with Switzerland’s Michael Schmid following in a steady second and Belgium’s Niels Van Zandweghe in third.
Qualifiers: NOR, HUN, POL, ITA, SUI, BEL
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Semifinals A/B
In Semifinal One, the Lithuanian double jumped out of the starting blocks, securing an early lead. The Lithuanians are the 2016 Olympic silver medallists in this event and at World Rowing Cup I they won gold. In Racice, Mindaugas Griskonis is replaced by Martynas Dziaugys who won gold in Belgrade in the men’s quadruple sculls. The Italian duo of Filippo Mondelli and Luca Rambaldi qualified for these semifinals with the fastest qualifying time. They tailed the Lithuanians, refusing to give them any breathing space. Swapping between first and second the Lithuanians and Italians were going bow ball to bow ball throughout most of the race. Switzerland’s boat of Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli won silver at World Rowing Cup I and seemed safe in their third qualifying spot.
But in a sensational and electric finish, the qualifying spots were overturned when Belarus charged up the ranks to overtake Switzerland, Italy and Lithuania, crossing the line in first and simultaneously scoring a new European Championship Best Time at 6:07.75. Switzerland managed to respond to the charge while Lithuania had nothing left to give. At the line it was Belarus, Switzerland and Italy qualifying for the A-final and the Olympic silver medallists missing out.
In Semifinal Two, Germany and Poland swapped between first and second for the first half of the race. Poland won bronze at World Rowing Cup I, but sent a new crew to the European Rowing Championships here in Racice. With 500m left to row, it was Bulgaria in third. At the line, the positions remained unchanged with Poland, Germany and Bulgaria qualifying for the A-final.
Qualifiers: BLR, SUI, ITA, POL, GER, BUL
Men’s Four (M4-) – Semifinals A/B
In Semifinal One of the men’s four, Italy took an early lead. The Italians are the current Olympic bronze medallists in this event, with two of their athletes remaining from Rio – Domenico Montrone and Matteo Castaldo. Joining them are the Olympic bronze medallists in the men’s pair Giovanni Abagnale and Marco Di Costanzo. Throughout the race, the Italians increased their lead, with the Netherlands following further behind in a steady second. The Dutch crew is the same that raced to silver at the World Rowing Cup in Belgrade, with three of their four members having finished fifth in this boat class in Rio. France secured their third qualifying spot from the half-way mark and maintained it until the line.
The Russians, positioned in centre lane four, dashed out from the start in Semifinal Two. Very little separated the top five boats at the half-way mark, with Great Britain back in fourth until the 1500m mark. Germany, in outer lane one, held on fast to their second qualifying spot, with Romania in a steady third throughout. In the final strokes, three crews were racing dead level and Great Britain upped their stroke rate. At the line, it was a photo finish between the second and third qualifying spots, with Great Britain having moved up into second ahead of Romania. Germany was unable to respond to Great Britain’s final challenge and fell back into fourth, missing out on the A-final.
Qualifiers: ITA, NED, FRA, RUS, GBR, ROU
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals A/B
In Semifinal One, Serbia’s Marko Marjanovic and local hero Ondrej Synek were placed in centre lanes three and four. Yesterday in the heats, Marjanovic created a sensation when he set a new European Best Time at 6:39.22. Synek is the multi Olympic and World medallist in this event. In the first quarter, it was Marjanovic in the lead, with Synek following closely. Tim Ole Naske of Germany, the current under-23 World Champion, seemed to have secured a third qualifying spot in lane five.
But by the half-way mark, Synek had moved through Serb and continued to increase his lead throughout the race with nearly three seconds separating him from the rest of the field at the 1500m mark. In the final sprint, Belarus’s Stanislau Scharbachenia, who finished fifth at last year’s Olympic Rowing Regatta, charged up the ranks in lane six, overtaking Germany and then Serbia. The European Best Time holder from Serbia was unable to cling on and fell back into fourth, missing out on the A-final. Synek qualifies from first, Scharbachenia from second and Naske from third.
Swiss sculler Nico Stahlberg surprised the field at World Rowing Cup I when he beat Olympic silver medallist and reigning European Champion Damir Martin from Croatia by 42 hundredths of a second to win gold. Both athletes met again in Semifinal Two here in Racice.
But it was Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen who initially took the lead and held on to it until the half-way mark. Croatia’s Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin was slightly back in second and France’s Hugo Boucheron in third. In the third quarter, Nielsen was unable to hold on to his initial pace and began to fall behind while Martin moved into first.
With 500m left to row, Azerbaijan’s Aleksandar Aleksandrov in outer lane six had moved up into second, pushing the Dane back into third and the Frenchman into fourth. In the final strokes, Denmark tried to cling on to the third qualifying position, but France’s Boucheron charged for the line, overtaking Nielsen in the final strokes. At the line it was Croatia, Azerbaijan and France qualifying for the A-final. Switzerland finished at the back of the field.
Qualifiers: CZE, BLR, GER, CRO, AZE, FRA
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals A/B
The 2016 Olympic Champions from France Jeremie Azou and Pierre Houin took an early lead in Semifinal One, with Germany’s Lucas Schaefer and Jason Osborne in second and Panagiotis Magdanis and Spyridon Giannaros from Greece in third. The Olympic silver medallists from Ireland, O’Donovan brothers Gary and Paul were at the back of the field. At the half-way mark the top three positions remained unchanged while Ireland had begun to move up the ranks and was now in fourth.
With 500m left to row, Greece had fallen back while Ireland was powering up, going past Greece and continuing through the Germans. At the line, the Olympic gold and silver medallists crossed the line in first and second respectively, followed by Germany eight hundredths of a second behind the Irish in third.
Italy took the lead at the start of Semifinal Two with World Rowing Cup I gold medallists Great Britain in second. Poland, who were bronze medallists a few weeks ago in Belgrade, were back in third. These top three positions remained unchanged until the line.
Qualifiers: FRA, IRL, GER, ITA, GBR, POL