Stunning climax to World Rowing Championships
The World Rowing Championships is the climax of the international rowing season. Hosted for the second time in Asia, the Tangeum International Rowing Regatta course in Chungju, Korea proved to be a hit both for the competitors and the spectators.
The purpose-built facility has been described throughout the championships as ‘impressive’ and there is little doubt that Korean rowing, thus, received a huge boost.
Each day water conditions have been favourable with calm conditions for the finals. Today, the last day of finals, saw a very slight tail wind and flat water that switched to a tiny head wind with the usual hot conditions and a level of humidity for these athletes.
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Final
You have to love the predominantly Korean crowd. No matter who was racing the grandstand supporters kept up their drumming and cheering. For the first final of the day, Norway’s Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch got out the quickest. Hoff and Borch finished seventh at the London Olympics and they vowed to come back stronger this season. Together they had recorded the fastest qualifying time in the semifinals. Hoff and Borch were up against Michael Arms and Robert Manson of New Zealand who come to these World Champs after making a clean sweep of the 2013 World Cup season. Also in the mix were Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter of Lithuania who have been regular medallists this season along with 2013 European Rowing Champions, Italy.
By the middle of the race Hoff and Borch had pulled away to an aggressive open water lead with a complete line forming behind them made up of Argentina, New Zealand, Lithuania, Germany and Italy. Hoff and Borch continued to lead with now Mascinskas and Ritter on attack.
In the mad scramble for the line Hoff and Borch kept their cool and kept in front. Mascinskas and Ritter, at a 43, had earned silver and Italy’s Francesco Fossi and Romano Battisti had done a flyer to take bronze.
What a celebration from Hoff and Borch – their first World Championship title. Hoff stood up in the boat lifting his oar to salute the crowd. The duo had finished just six seconds outside of the World Best Time.
Results: NOR, LTU, ITA, GER, ARG, NZL
From Friday’s semifinals Great Britain were the closest crew to qualifying for the A-final. Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas of Great Britain won their heat earlier in the week, beating New Zealand in the process and they must have had high expectations for their success in the later rounds. Today Langridge and Lucas got into the lead with Serbia chasing hard. Marko Marjanovic and Aleksandar Filipovic of Serbia must have been saving their best ‘til last. The duo was eighth at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and were an outside chance at this regatta. At the line Serbia had taken first to make them seventh in the world.
Results: SRB, AUS, GBR, USA, CUB, DEN
Nils Jakob Hoff – Gold
“We didn’t believe it until the last stroke. Then I lost my mind. This is the first gold medal in the double at the World Championships for Norway’s men’s rowing since Olaf won in 2003. This is a fantastic fresh start for Norway and we need to thank our Swedish coach Johan Flodin.”
Rolandas Mascinskas - Silver
“We tried to work throughout the entire race to be as fast as possible. The Norwegians were very fast in first thousand, we got closer the second thousand. We need a hundred metres more to beat them. The conditions were good, the weather during the competition days was much better than the training day, a bit cooler.”
Francesco Fossi – Bronze
“It went exactly according to plan. At the 1000 metres we were still at the back but we felt we could go and get a medal. It’s been a different season with a different coach, but it totally worked out and we’re really happy with the result.”
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Final
Coming through from the semifinals Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania looked like the crew to beat. They had won the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and they had won the European Rowing Championships. With that in mind Vistartaite and Valciukaite jumped out into the lead at the start. But their lead was tiny and by the middle of the race New Zealand’s Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson had got their nose in front.
Bourke and Stevenson had raced together in under-23 eight back in 2011 where they had taken silver. Coming together in the double this season looked to be a great decision as the moved into a gold medal-winning position. But Vistartaite and Valciukaite were not giving up and both boats went stroke for stroke into the final sprint.
Meanwhile Germany, Great Britain and Belarus were fighting for the bronze medal as though their life depended on it. Lithuania had again got back into a small lead as the final sprint came into view. Then Stevenson and Bourke took their stroke rate to 39 to grab back the lead. Vistartaite and Valciukaite replied with a 43 and were surging. The crowd was going wild. A huge gasp went up. Just 2m from the line New Zealand still had the lead. At the line Lithuania had won. New Zealand had come second and the great Ekaterina Karsten had come through at the age of 41 to take bronze with her new partner Yuliya Bichyk. Karsten threw her hands in the air in joy. Well-deserved medals across the board.
Results: LTU, NZL, BLR, GBR, GER, DEN
Russia’s Ekaterina Potapova and Maria Krasilnikova shot out quickly at the start trying to stake their claim on the race. Ukraine however, had other ideas. Both of these crews recorded similar finishing times in Friday’s semifinals with the United States just being a bit faster. As the 1,000m mark came into view Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek of the United States moved into an effective piece that brought them into the lead. O’Leary and Tomek were the bronze medallists at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and they had high expectations for this regatta. Today they used the second 1,000 to dominate crossing the finish line with an open water lead.
Results: USA, RUS, UKR, IRL, ITA, KOR
Donata Vistartaite – Gold
“The last 250m when we were passed by New Zealand, we were still pretty close but hoped that we could come back. We had also heard some noise from the New Zealand boat and we knew that they might be in trouble, so we pushed harder and harder. We believed in victory and wanted to win the gold medal. I saw that we passed them in the last stroke. This is our first gold medal at the World Championships and it doesn’t compare to any other victory.”
Yuliya Bichyk – Bronze
“We aimed for a finish between place 3 and 6, so this was the best scenario. The race was hard and I’m really happy with the result.”
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Final
New Zealand came into the World Championships unbeaten from the World Cup series. The crew had tried to qualify for the Olympic Games last year and had just missed out. Adding Olympic medallist from the lightweight double, Peter Taylor, to the boat this season had seen the crew step up a notch. This success had pushed Olympic bronze medallists into second for the season. But in the semifinals earlier this week, Denmark had pulled off a stunner to earn the fastest qualifying time.
Could New Zealand come back today?
Right from the word go, Denmark had the edge and maintaining a 39 – 40 stroke rate through the body of the race saw them hold the edge. Meanwhile a huge battle went on between France, Great Britain and New Zealand. This battle kept these boats in touch with Denmark.
In the final sprint New Zealand was the closest to the Danish and rating 41. Denmark had responded with another gear going to 41. Great Britain and France were both rating in the low 40s. The line couldn’t come soon enough for these crews. Denmark were the World Champions. New Zealand, in silver, had become the best result for their country ever in this event and Olympic silver medallists, Great Britain had taken the bronze.
Results: DEN, NZL, GBR, FRA, USA, RSA
Judging by the semifinal results the Netherlands had the upper hand in this B-final. Their country so far had been doing well at these World Championships and they must have been feeling position. But it was Italy that took off the fastest with the Dutch back in fourth. Coming into the middle of the race Poland were challenging Italy with every stroke with the Italians managing to keep their nose just in front. Italy then moved into a piece but the Poles responded perfectly. In the final sprint the Italians then put their foot down and took off. At 45 strokes per minute Italy sprinted away to finish first in a very quick time of 5:56.
Results: ITA, POL, ESP, AUS, CZE, NED
Morten Joergesen – Gold
“In the last 20 strokes I had absolutely nothing left. I did nothing, I could see they (NZL) were within half a length of us, but I had nothing left. And then it was over.”
“This is my first World Championship gold, so after the Olympic and Europeans, this rounds everything out. In this race we went hard from the start and pushed even harder at 1000m to take the lead. Twenty strokes before the finish I looked to my left and in that moment I knew we would win it.”
James Lassche – Silver
“We are very happy with silver. Of course it would have been nice to win, but you’ve got to be happy with silver at the World Championships. We’ve come a long way this season. We raced as we planned, but in the last 100 metres the Danes just got us, they had an extra gear.”
Women’s Eight – Final
When World and Olympic Champions, the United States absolutely dominated their heat earlier in the week, the word was out. This crew was looking unbeatable. And with that in mind the United States crew of Polk, Simmonds, Regan, Schmetterling, Luczak, Musnicki, Opitz, Lind and coxswain Katelin Snyder took off in the lead. Romania, Canada and Australia moved with the Americans for the first 500m.
The United States then began to break away from the field leaving Romania, Canada and Australia to battle for the silver medal.
In the final sprint the US had gained more than a boat length lead with Romania now clearly in second. Romania dominated this event prior to 2006 when, under coach Tom Terhaar, the Americans started winning and never stopped. Romania has not beaten the Americans since.
In the final sprint Romania remained in second at a 36 stroke rate pace with Canada pulling through in third. The United States looked happy, Romania looked happier and Canada looked satisfied. Under relatively little pressure the United States had finished just eight seconds outside of the World Best Time. The US will continue to rewrite the standards in this event.
Also of note was the solid final sprint by Great Britain that brought them into fourth ahead of Australia – perhaps not a podium finish, but a fine effort.
Results: USA, ROU, CAN, GBR, AUS, NED
New Zealand missed out on making the final by less than a second and this boat, coached Dick Tonks, was ready to dominate the B-final. And they did just that. Just 40 strokes into the race the Kiwi crew had a half boat length lead and by the half-way point they were looking in the style of the United States – way out in front. With Kelsey Bevan in stroke the New Zealanders rowed away from the field. What a great set up for the 2014 season.
Results: NZL, RUS, ITA
Amanda Polk – Gold
“We had a great race, although it didn’t look so on the big screen we felt the field was tight and we didn’t count anybody out. We kept rowing all the way, pushing our speed and racing hard until the finish line. There was no complacency and we responded to any call that our Katelin, our coxswain, made.”
Cristina Ilie - Silver
“We were very happy about second place. We wanted to get silver because we know that the US are the best, but maybe we will get them in the future.
Carolyn Ganes - Bronze
“We stuck to our plan. We are really happy because it’s a completely new crew except for one person, and also a new coxswain. It’s a great learning experience for us all to come away with a medal. I’m really proud of us all.”
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Final
It has been a long time since a World Championship final has not included Lassi Karonen of Sweden, Olaf Tufte of Norway and Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand. Today was the day. With Karonen in retirement, Tufte taking a year off and Drysdale not making it out of the quarterfinals the way looked wide open for 2010 World Champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic to take another World title. Or, the big question was, could 2002 World Champion, Marcel Hacker of Germany pull off a stunner?
Synek got out quickly and established the lead over usual fast starter, Hacker. By the middle of the race Synek had held a small margin over Hacker with Olympic bronze medallist Campbell very much on the pace in third. The entire field, though, was still tightly packed together with Hacker holding a 35 to retain his spot.
In the sprint to the line Synek remained in control with Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba at a 37 stroke rate and rapidly closing on Hacker. Fournier started off in the single as a junior back in 2005 and since then he has built his way up from the B-final at the senior level to capturing his first A-final spot in 2009. Fournier first medalled at the senior level last year at the World Cup and he was now in a silver medal position at the World Championships.
Just before the line Synek stopped rowing. He knew he had won. Just before the line Fournier stopped rowing, Hacker, still rowing, nearly caught up. Synek had taken his second World Championship title, Fournier just held on to the silver medal and Hacker won the bronze.
Results: CZE, CUB, GER, GBR, NED, LTU
You have to go back to 2011 for the last time Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan was in a B-final. In the semifinal on Friday Aleksandrov never really fired and finished out of a qualifying spot. Today Aleksandrov made the most of his last race of the season to take the lead. But no one was going to give Aleksandrov an easy time of it with Israel and Bulgaria chasing hard. Aleksandrov, who won the Diamond Sculls event at year’s Henley Royal Regatta, managed to keep his nose in front and at a 40 – 41 stroke rate he crossed the line in first. Georgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria wasn’t far behind in second.
Results: AZE, BUL, ISR, RUS, SUI, IND
Ondrej Synek - Gold
“This is one of the best moments of my life. I led from start to finish. It felt great and quite easy. I knew Marcel Hacker would be strong and I wanted to break him early and control the race, so I did just that. In the last 500m I felt that I was being pushed by Fournier Rodriguez and felt him coming. But after he passed Marcel he was happy with that and probably knew that he couldn’t catch me. The last 500m was hard.”
Angel Fournier Rodriguez - Silver
“I was overwhelmed at the finish line and I stopped too early. The first part of the race wasn’t that good, but I found my stride in the second half. I didn’t go into the race expecting anything, just wanted to go out and race hard. I didn’t focus on the medals, just going out to race hard and it worked well.”
Marcel Hacker - Bronze
“It was such a tough race: respect to Ondrej and respect to Rodriguez. It was a really fantastic last 500m but now I’m really done. It’s very good to have the umpires on the sides, no waves from the speed boats, it’s a great idea and they should keep it for all the events. After 7 years, I have my first medal and I am just so happy about this. For the future, my aim is Rio 2016 if my health allows it and if I still have the power to do it.”
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Final
Australia’s Kim Crow has gone unbeaten this season and she looked to be the favourite for the gold. Crow had been the only Olympic rower to race in two events at the 2012 London Olympics. She had medalled in both, one of them the single. This season Crow had become Australia’s top gold medal hope and today she did not let the selectors down.
Crow got out quickly and by the first timing marker, the 500m mark, she already had a boat length lead. New Zealand’s Emma Twigg followed in second. Twigg is a junior and under-23 champion in the single and, apart from a short stint in the eight, Twigg has spent most of her career in the single. Behind Twigg, Olympic Champion, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic followed in third.
In the second half of the race Crow had moved to an open water lead with Twigg and Knapkova now going stroke for stroke. The top three places had all but been decided. The order was yet to be sorted. With Crow remaining in front, Twigg had taken her stroke rate to 34. Knapkova had no reply.
Crow had earned her first World Championship title. After two World Championship bronze medals, Twigg had earned her first silver. Knapkova had taken the bronze.
Results: AUS, NZL, CZE, AUT, USA, NED
Olympic Champion from the quad, Nataliya Dovgodko of Ukraine had the fastest time in the semifinals of these crews. Dovgodko moved away from the start together with Great Britain’s Victoria Thornley. These two crews moved out to their own battle at the front with Norway and Russia in a close race for third and fourth. Thornley then managed to get ahead of a fading Dovgodko with Russia’s Julia Levina now challenging for the lead. Thornley held her off in a great time of 7:32.
Results: GBR, RUS, UKR, ZIM, NOR, LAT
Kim Crow - Gold
“This is a very exciting feeling being a World Champion. This is a first World Championship gold medal for me. This was a long week, with so much time to get nervous and anxious. The race plan today was for the first 500, just to be in my own boat, so the first time I looked up at 750m I was surprised to see that I was ahead. From that moment on, I just kept going stroke after stroke to the finish line.”
Mirka Knapkova - Bronze
“In the end I am happy with bronze because it was very hard in the end. To me, it seemed like the water was quite heavy. The last 300m didn’t go as planned. I thought I could go faster, but I had no energy left for the sprint. The expectations were maybe a bit higher, but a medal is fine because the other girls are very good and it’s fun racing against them on this level.”
Men’s Eight – Final
Germany and Great Britain won their respective heats earlier in the week and they met for the first time today in the final. Germany are the reigning World and Olympic Champions and they have retained the majority of their 2012 crew for this season. Their coach, Ralf Holtmeyer interestingly coached the men’s eight to victory in Korea 25 years ago at the Seoul Olympic Games. Could the crew pull off another gold for Holtmeyer today.
Great Britain have been chasing Germany for the last four years and never caught them. This year coach Juergen Grobler had made the eight the priority boat and put his top sweep rowers in the boat to go for gold.
At the start the British had the fastest opening pace with Germany following closely behind. Winner of the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, the United States were at the back of the field. The United States then found their rhythm, moving into third while Great Britain remained at the head of the field with an extended margin over Germany.
Could the Germans come back? Great Britain continued to pull away as the final sprint came into view. Germany took their stroke rate to 41. They had found another gear and had closed the gap on the British. Great Britain, at 38, were holding on with all that they had left.
At the line Great Britain had proved that they had timed the race to perfection, crossing the line just a fraction ahead of Germany. The Germans earned their first World Championship silver medal in five years and the United States earned the bronze.
Results : GBR, GER, USA, POL, NED, FRA
Korea featured in this B-final with a crew that had every intention of footing it against their more experienced competition. At the start Australia managed to nose into the lead followed closely by Italy. Australia had the fastest time coming out of the repechage earlier in the week and by the middle of the race this was beginning to show. Walking away from the three other crews, Australia kept the pressure on to the line with a 37 – 38 stroke rate pace.
The cheering, however, was reserved for Korea. Although coming through at the back of the field they had made a great effort and there was no denying their passion as they crossed the finish line exhausted.
Results: AUS, ITA, RUS, KOR
Phelan Hill – Gold
“I told them to keep it simple in the last 250m, keep the length and the legs to keep everything together. That was what we always talked about. It was an awesome race.”
Eric Johannesen – Silver
“We let the Brits get too far away in the first 1500m. We planned to stay closer but we didn’t manage to do it. We paid the price when we couldn’t catch them in the sprint. We are happy with the result because we gave everything. It’s a new team and in this post-Olympic year we focused more on our studies and less on our training, so we are all in all happy with the result.”
Tom Peszek - Bronze
“It was a great race. We executed the race plan. We pretty much expected the British and Germany to lead. The race was really hard, everyone gave what they could and I’m proud that we stuck together.”