A taste of Rio for junior championships heats
It may be the middle of winter in Rio, Brazil for the 2015 World Rowing Junior Championships, but it was hard to tell with warm temperatures in the 20s Celsius greeting the best junior rowers in the world.
Today's schedule was one of a full day of heats followed by the rescheduled repechage races in the afternoon. The waters of Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon changed throughout the morning beginning with a slight tail wind then moving to flat water before turning back to a tail wind with rather bumpy water through the middle of the course.
Junior Women's Single Sculls (JW1x) - Heats
This boat class had attracted a large field of 22 nations ranging from some of the top rowing nations in the world like Germany through to relative newcomers to the rowing family like the Dominican Republic. The goal here was to finish first as this would earn a direct path to the semifinals. Chile and Belgium jumped out first in Heat One and chased each other through to the middle of the race. Then Rachel Willaumez of Belgium did a push with Chile unable to respond. Willaumez led for the rest of the race.
Xiaoman Liu of China had a such a good start that she was able to clear the rest of the field reasonably early on in Heat Two. Liu then used the rest of the race to get a bigger lead. This early pace meant that Liu really did not have to push it in the second half of the race with the rest of the field looking like they were already resigned to racing in the repechage.
Heat Three was a very unbalanced race as Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands totally outclassed the rest of the field rowing to an open water lead within the first 40 strokes. Keijser finished third in this boat class at last year's World Rowing Junior Championships and her result today shows that she is definitely a favourite and her finishing time was the fastest qualifying time.
There is not ignoring the star quality of Sofia Asoumanaki of Greece. She recently set the indoor rowing World Record as a junior and she is already well established on the Greek senior team. At the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne last month, Asoumanaki raced in the A-final finishing fifth in the women's double sculls. Asoumanaki set the fastest opening split of all of the four heats today and although looking relaxed coming into the finish, Asoumanaki easily won.
Qualifiers: BEL, CHN, NED, GRE
Junior Women's Pair (JW2-) - Heats
This boat class had two heats with the top boat from each heat earning a direct path to the A-final. Canada had a slight initial lead with Russia taking them on stroke for stroke in Heat One. Canada then appeared to run out of steam with Russia taking over in the lead and then pushing away from the entire field. At the line Olesia Zakharova and Ekaterina Glazkova of Russia had easily won.
A large contingent of supporters from the United States let out a cheer every time their crew was mentioned as Arianna Lee and Margaret Dawson of the United States took to the lead in Heat Two. Germany did their best to keep up with Lee and Dawson, but the American duo was too powerful. Last year the United States finished third in this boat class and they will be hoping to be back on top this year. But it will be close as qualifier from heat one, Russia had recorded an almost identical finishing time as the United States.
Qualifiers: RUS, USA
Junior Men's Pair (JM2-) - Heats
Three heats lined up with the top three crews in each heat earning a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One the German crew of Olaf Roggensack and Rene Schmela led the way with last year's silver medallists, Romania following in second. A close battle went on for the third qualifying spot between Chile and Great Britain. This made Chile do a 41 stroke rate sprint at the finish, but Great Britain was able to counter the sprint and grab the final qualifying spot. Germany qualified with the fastest time of all of the heats.
Heat Two had France in the lead with South Africa chasing hard. By the middle of the race Esteban Catoul and Louis Maupin of France had earned a slight advantage but South Africa's James Mitchell and Daniel Carter were unrelenting and these two boats went neck-and-neck into the final sprint. Rating 37, Mitchell and Carter pushed into the lead to finish first. France qualified from second with the United States taking third.
Heat Three opened with Georgios Papasakelariou and Konstantinos Mantzios of Greece out in front. Greece raced in the A-final at last year's World Rowing Junior Championships and their pace in this race today made them look like 2015 medal contenders. Coming into the last 500m of the race, both Denmark and the Czech Republic had closed on Greece. The Czech Republic are the reigning World Champions in this boat class, but this year have a new crew competing. At the line Greece had managed to hold off the challenges and, along with Denmark and the Czech Republic, will go directly to the semifinals.
Qualifiers: GER, ROU, GBR, RSA, FRA, USA, GRE, DEN, CZE
Junior Men's Double Sculls (JM2x) - Heats
Three heats lined up with the goal here to be in a top two position. This would earn the crew a spot in tomorrow's semifinals. In Heat One the Czech Republic's Jan Cincibuch and Eduard Bezdek got away very quickly and by the middle of the race they had a two second lead over France in second. The Czechs then managed to gain a bit more of a margin. But there was still 500m to row and in the outside lane Austria's Nikolaus Brandner and David Neubauer had decided that they were going to give it their all to get into a qualifying spot. Brandner and Newbauer took their stroke rate to 38 and not only overtook second placed France, but they also overtook the Czechs. Watch out for Austria in future races as they scored the fastest qualifying time.
Italy took ownership of Heat Two by leading from start to finish. Andrea Cattaneo and Emanuele Fiume of Italy. Cattaneo is a junior World Champion from the men's coxed four while Fiume raced to second in 2013 in the Italian junior eight. The Italian advantage remained for the rest of the race with Slovenia qualifying from second.
Heat Three opened with Germany in the lead with Estonia the closest challenger. Then Hungary's Kristof Acs and Mate Bacskai moved into second. Acs and Bacskai were tenth in this boat class last year and they were showing their maturity as they slid through to the lead. Germany, which included Theodor Thun, a last minute substitute, was doing a great job to hold on to the second qualifying spot. At the line Hungary and Germany had qualified.
Qualifiers: AUT, CZE, ITA, SLO, HUN, GER
Junior Women's Double Sculls (JW2x) - Heats
The top two finishing boats would get to go directly to the semifinals and Heat One, of three heats, had Hungary showing the way. By the middle of the race Vivien Preil and Zoltana Gadanyi of Hungary had built up a very handy lead with China several lengths back in second. Hungary finished fourth in this boat class last year and they were putting themselves on a medal path by their performance today. At the line Hungary easily won.
Germany finished second in this boat class last year and for 2015, with a new crew, they were leading Heat Two. Annemieke Schanze and Frieda Hammerling of Germany had a small margin over Great Britain's Sarah Downing and Rosalind Wilson going through the middle of the race. These positions remained pretty much unchanged through the second half of the race. Germany and the British were on their way to the semifinals with Germany recording the fastest qualifying time.
Romania may be the reigning junior World Champions but they were not leading in Heat Three. Instead it was Italy's Valentina Iseppi and Allegra Francalacci that had the lead. But by the middle of the race Elena Logofatu and Nicoleta Pascanu of Romania had closed the gap on Italy with Australia still very much within striking distance. Coming into the final sprint it was neck-and-neck between Italy and Romania. Underrating Italy, Romania got into the lead. Italy pushed back and both boats crossed the line practically together. Romania took first by 0.29 of a second. Both boats qualified for the semifinals.
Qualifiers: HUN, CHN, GER, GBR, ROU, ITA
Junior Women's Four (JW4-) - Heats
A top two finish would earn these boats a spot in the final and this led to fast and furious racing. Heat One of two heats saw one of the best finishes of the day. France had been leading for the majority of the race, but coming into the final sprint there were four boats all tucked closely together. Italy, who had a crew full of athletes that participated in last year's World Rowing Junior Championships, had overtaken France with Great Britain chasing hard. Then from fourth position, China charged. Great Britain, now in second, were trying to hold on. They missed out. Italy and reigning junior World Champions, China had earned spots in the final.
The United States and Germany jumped out together in Heat Two and then proceeded to go neck-and-neck through the middle of the race. Last year the United States were second while Germany finished fourth. The close race remained for the next 500m. In the final sprint Germany showed that they still had an extra gear and pushed clean away from the Americans. Both boats qualified for the final with both boats recording the fastest qualifying times.
Qualifiers: ITA, CHN, GER, USA
Junior Men's Coxed Four (JM4+) - Heats
The two heats in this boat class required a first place finish for a direct path to the final. In Heat One Germany grabbed the lead at the start and continued to move away from the rest of the field as the race advanced. Germany finished outside of the medals last year in fifth position, but today they looked to be making amends as they continued to lead through to the finish.
Heat Two opened with the reigning junior World Champions, Italy in the lead. The Italians earned a boat length lead with the rest of a field following in a practical line behind them. Then Ukraine dropped off the pace leaving the United States and Great Britain to be the boats that could still challenge Italy. Then the Italian crew of Favilli, Benetti, Peretti, Pietra Caprina and Tassia showed their skills and moved clean away from the rest of the field. The Italians had shown that they had speed as well as stamina.
Qualifiers: GER, ITA
Junior Men's Four (JM4-) - Heats
Three heats lined up with the goal here to finish in eight a first or second position. This would earn the crews a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One the United States had the fastest start, but they could not maintain it and by the middle of the race Germany had moved into the lead. The Germans are the reigning junior World Champions in this boat class, but they come to Rio with an entirely different crew. Coming through to the final sprint the United States continued to hold on to the Germans with Spain giving it their all down the outside. A furious finish saw stroke rates go into the high 30s. At the line Germany held off the United States and the US held off Spain.
After a short delay (due to start line technical issues) Heat Two got under way with Romania jumping out to an early lead. Romania finished second in 2014 and they are regular medallists in this boat class. By the middle of the race Romania remained in front, but only just over Switzerland. Three of the Swiss crew raced last year at the junior championships and they had the credentials to take on Romania. The Romanians kept their stroke rate at 38 coming into the final sprint, but Switzerland was unrelenting. Both crews wore each other out, both boats had qualified for the semifinals.
There was nothing in it at the start of Heat Three. The British had a slight lead with Austria and Serbia chasing hard. By the middle of the race Greece had moved up into second and were now vying to overtake Great Britain using a 39 stroke rate. Once in the lead Greece really hit their stride and crossed the finish line easily in the lead and with a time of 6:12, way ahead of any other qualifying times.
Qualifiers: GER, USA, ROU, SUI, GRE, GBR
Junior Women's Quadruple Sculls (JW4x) - Heats
This boat class had three heats with the goal to be in a top three position. This would earn a direct path to tomorrow's semifinals. Great Britain got away quickly with France chasing hard. The British then managed to push away with a practical line forming behind them between the United States, France and Switzerland. In the final sprint Great Britain managed to establish a big margin with the United States and France crossing the line almost at the same time. These were the qualifying boats.
Right from the first stroke Germany showed that they meant business in Heat Two. Germany finished second in this boat class last year. By the final sprint a yawning gap had formed between Germany and the rest of the field. They did not need to sprint the finish, Romania came through ahead of Russia after getting the better of the two-way battle.
Heat Three opened with New Zealand in the lead and Canada chasing hard. This two way fight remained for the entire race and also meant that these two crews moved clean away from the rest of the field. In the close of the race Canada, rating 38, managed to get their nose ahead of New Zealand who were rating 37. Argentina also qualified by coming through in third.
Qualifiers: GBR, FRA, USA, GER, ROU, RUS, CAN, NZL, ARG
Junior Men's Quadruple Sculls (JM4x) - Heats
The four heats in this boat class meant that a top two position was needed if crews wanted to go directly to the semifinals tomorrow. Great Britain got off to a very solid start in Heat One with Poland pressing hard. The Poles continued to press so that these two crews ware nearly equal going through the middle 1000m on this 2000m course. Then Great Britain showed that they had better stamina and broke away from Poland in the final sprint. Both of these boats had qualified.
There was no denying where the races were taking place. In Heat Two Brazil was in the lead and the crowd was showing their appreciation. Dalla Vecchia, Boggian, da Sliva and Ferreira of Brazil had brought the crowd to their feet as the crew led the way home. The rest of the pack, however, had not given up and Brazil were having to do the sprint of their life to hold the lead. They did it. Russia qualified for second just ahead of Mexico.
Heat Three opened with New Zealand in the lead. The New Zealanders were third last year and today they had set a very fast pace. But it appeared that it was not fast enough. By the middle of the race Ukraine had pushed into the lead. Ukraine are very successful at the senior level in this boat class and in the boat today were three athletes from the 2014 Ukraine junior squad. New Zealand held on to Ukraine and these two boats moved away from the rest of the field. At the line Ukraine and New Zealand became the qualifying crews with Ukraine taking out the fastest qualifying time.
Germany hold the title of the reigning junior World Champions and they were in front in Heat Four with Canada chasing hard. The Canadians remained unrelenting as these two countries established a huge lead over the rest of the field. Both boats kept the pressure on through to the finish but neither did a full on sprint. Germany and Canada had qualified for the semfinals.
Qualifiers: GBR, POL, BRA, RUS, UKR, NZL, GER, CAN
Junior Women's Eight (JW8+) - Heats
Two heats meant that the top boat only would get to go directly to the final and it was Italy that was the first to show in Heat One. Italy first medalled in this boat class in 2012 and last year they were fourth overall. Today Italy continued to lead but margins were excruciatingly tight and at the half way point only one second separated the entire field. Who had paced this race the best? Coming into the final sprint Italy still had a very slight lead with the United States now bearing down on first place. Rating 39, the US took the lead with Italy, at 35, being overpowered. The United States qualified.
Heat Two looked as though Romania had technical problems as they struggled at the back of the field. This turned it into a two-boat race with Germany completely dominating China and taking the one spot directly to the final.
Qualifiers: USA, GER
Junior Men's Eight (JM8+) - Heats
The two heats in this last boat class of the morning included in Heat One the reigning junior World Champions, Germany. Right from the first stroke Germany established the lead. But Germany was not to have it their own way as the Netherlands challenged them through the middle of the race. The Dutch finished second to Germany last year and it looked as if a similar pattern would happen today. In the second half, however, Germany was able to pull away and take a relatively easy first place.
The United States got away the quickest in Heat Two and by the middle of the race they have a very handy lead. Missing out on the final at last year's World Rowing Junior Championships was quite a blow to the United States and they were determined to make no mistakes today. But then the United States began to run out of steam with Italy sneaking their way into the lead down the outside of the regatta course. The United States tried to hold on and actually began to come back in the final sprint. There was nothing between these two crews at the line. Italy had won by just 0.39 of a second. The United States will have to contend the repechage.
Qualifiers: GER, ITA