The agony of finishing third
Today’s repechages at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia held particular significance for the countries competing. Finishing third meant the end of their Olympic qualification dreams from this regatta.
From the repechages for the men’s double sculls, lightweight men’s four, men’s quadruple sculls, men’s pair and the women’s double sculls the top two boats got to advance to the semifinals, thus keeping their Olympic qualification hopes alive.
For those finishing third or less, however, all is not lost. There will be one more chance to qualify. The chance will come in May 2012, at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, when just a couple of remaining spots will be available. But for today, finishing third would have felt like coming dead last.
In the men’s double sculls Latvia’s Lauris Sire and Dairis Adamaitis came incredibly close to keeping their qualification hopes alive. Sire and Adamaitis raced in repechage one and sat in second for the first half of the race before being overtaken. But Sire, 22, and Adamaitis, 22, gave it their all to come back, only to fall short by 1.17 seconds. The duo are the reigning under-23 champions and a crew to watch for the future.
Simone Raineri, 34, of Italy is a three-time Olympian. He has an Olympic gold and Olympic silver amongst his huge medal collection. But today, with partner Domenico Montrone, he rowed his way into that devastating third position in the men’s double sculls. Outraced by Argentina and Estonia, the Italians showed that anything can happen.
M2x Qualifiers for the semifinals: ARG, EST, NOR, CZE, FRA, CAN, AUS, LTU
An agonisingly close finish in the fourth repechage of the lightweight men’s four saw Canada out of qualifying by just 0.36 of a second. The Canadians won bronze at the Beijing Olympics and Mike Lewis has remained in the boat. Just behind Canada, Chile also missed out of qualifying by less than a second.
Despite solid crowd support the United States ended down by just half a second in the second repechage and out of Olympic qualification.
LM4- qualifiers for the semifinals: RSA, SRB, POL, GER, SUI, FRA, AUS, CZE
“Why didn’t we push just a little more?” That must have been the thoughts in the head of Jakub Makovicka and Jakub Houska of the Czech Republic in the first repechage of the men’s pair. The Czech’s were in the qualifying second place through the middle of the race but came under huge pressure from the Americans coming into the line. The pressure by Justin Stangel and Thomas Peszek of the United States earned them a second place and a qualifying position, but it denied Makovicka and Houska of qualifying by a fraction more than a second. Makovicka, 30, is a two-time Olympian and in Beijing he raced with the famous Vaclav Chalupa in the pair. Both Stangel and Peszek are aiming for their first Olympic Games.
Ramon Di Clemente is South Africa’s most successful rower. He is a three-time Olympic finalist in this event with a bronze medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics. Today he rowed in repechage four with new partner, Lawrence Brittain. The duo ended up finishing third behind Serbia’s Nikola Stojic. Stojic has competed against Di Clemente at the past three Olympics and finishing second in repechage four, with partner Jovan Popovic, means that he is one step closer to qualifying for his fourth Olympic Games.
M2- qualifiers for the semifinals: NED, USA, GRE, FRA, GER, AUS, HUN, SRB
A huge sprint by Lea and Lisbet Jakobsen for Denmark in the first repechage of the women’s double sculls nearly got them out of the dreaded third position. But not quite. The United States and Ireland saw them coming and held on as best as they could. The Jakobsen sisters ended in third by less than a second.
W2x qualifiers for the semifinals: USA, IRL, CZE, FIN