The meaning of pressure at Junior Champs
The 2010 World Rowing Junior Championships began today in Racice, the Czech Republic. Today’s racing saw athletes from 49 countries compete in the heats.
Despite favourable weather conditions with barely any wind and a cloudless warm day, a smattering of bad strokes and crabs, indicated racing nerves. Many of these athletes are racing at the international level for the first time and these opening rounds demonstrated a range of skill levels with some races being won by large margins.
Junior Men’s Single Sculls (JM1X) –Heats
A large turnout of 27 countries made this event the second biggest at these championships. The scullers were divided into five heats on this first day with the top four from each heat getting a direct path to the quarterfinals. All other crews would have to race again this afternoon in the repechage.
The reigning Junior Champion, Felix Bach was back again this year and all those racing him in heat three must have thought they had drawn the hard one in this computer generated draw. At 199cm and over 100kg, Bach showed his on-the-water skills leading from start to finish by a huge margin and leaving the rest of the field to scull for second. Behind Bach the other qualifiers for the quarterfinals went to Zygimantas Galisanskis of Lithuania, Ireland’s sole representative at this regatta, Turlough Hughes and South Africa’s Marvin Mahomed.
But Bach did not clock in the fastest qualifying time. This went to the winner of heat one, Dionysios Angelopoulos of Greece. Angelopoulos raced two weeks ago at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships and that must have acted as a fine warm up to these championships. His time at the finish line of 7:23 was the fastest time by three seconds. Coming in to qualify behind Angelopoulos was Italy’s Manuel Igneri, Daniel Matyasovszki of Hungary and Chile’s Nibaldo Yanez Ortiz finished fourth to also qualify. Angelopoulos will now go to tomorrow’s quarterfinal with a psychological advantage.
Heat two saw a strong start come from Andre Redr of Slovakia. Redr is originally from the Czech Republic and he now hopes to be the first medal for Slovakia from the Junior Championships. After finishing first in this heat, Redr is heading in the right direction to medal. Behind the Slovakian and also qualifying for the quarterfinals were Serbia’s Aleksandar Filipovic, Alvaro Torres Masias of Peru and in fourth place Vitaly Borimskiy of Russia.
The fourth heat was all about Andrew Campbell of the United States. Rowing is a big part of Campbell’s family with his younger brother also racing here in the men’s four. Campbell got off to a fast start and had earned a full boat length lead with about 40 strokes rowed. Campbell maintained this margin for the rest of the race leaving the rest of the field to work out the other spots. At the line the commanding Campbell was first with the other qualifiers being Boris Gardijan of Croatia, Facundo Torres of Argentina and Albania’s Marsel Nikaj.
The final heat, heat five, gave the home crowd something to smile about as it was led from start to finish. Jakub Podrazil of the Czech Republic is at his third junior championships and he got into the racing mood this season by being part of his country’s senior quad that raced at the first Rowing World Cup. Podrazil crossed the line ahead of Estonia’s Joosep Laos in second and also qualifying was Tome Perdigao of Portugal and Roberto Lopez of El Salvador.
Junior Men’s Double Sculls (JM2X) – Heats
This is the largest event of the 2010 World Rowing Junior Championships with 28 countries entered. These 28 nations got divided into five heats and the top four from each heat earned a direct path to tomorrow’s quarterfinals. Heat one saw New Zealand’s Sean Watts and Oliver Behrent stamp their authority early in the piece, leaving the rest of the field to try and catch them. Both Watts and Behrent are at their first international regatta and they led a number of very strong rowing nations including Denmark who finished second after a massive push to the line. This Danish push put the Netherlands into third and Portugal, in fourth, rounded out the qualifying boats.
Last year Timo Piontek of Germany became the junior World Champion of this event. This year he has a new partner in Stephan Riemekasten and together they were the best crew of heat two. Riemekasten and Piontek already had a healthy lead with just 500m rowed leaving Italy and Lithuania in a duel for second. Italy got the upper hand with a very strong second 1000m to finish second behind Germany. Lithuania still qualifies from third and Korea take the final qualifying spot.
In heat three Belarus were the fastest off the line but by the half way point they had been overtaken by both Hungary and Georgios Antonis and Spyridon Giannaros of Greece. The Greeks then showed their second half stamina moving right away from the field and leaving Hungary, in second, back in their wake. In a very spread out procession at the finish line the qualifiers were Greece, Hungary, Japan and Belarus.
It took until the fourth heat for the fastest qualifying time to be struck and it was done by Alberic Cormerais and Mickael Marteau of France. The duo did it by staying out in front for the entire race. Even though Romania won silver last year, the French stayed ahead of them in this heat as they charged towards the finish line. France finished in a very respectable time of 6:45, two seconds ahead of their closest rival’s time, Germany in heat two. Also qualifying from this heat was Romania, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Poland were unlucky when a massive crab set them back early on in the race and they never managed to catch up.
The top two positions sorted themselves out early on in heat five with Slovenia’s Jan Kanduc and Jernej Markovc leading the way followed by Belgium in second. This left Latvia, Estonia and Croatia to fight it out for the remaining two qualifying spots. All three of these crews gave it their best to the line with Latvia being the unlucky one.
Junior Women’s Four (JW4-) – Heats
Two heats lined up to race in the women’s four with the top boat only from each heat earning a direct path to Saturday’s final. Racing finals on Saturday is a new feature for this year and the women’s four will be the first final raced. Final spots were earned by New Zealand and Germany.
New Zealand got their spot by going head-to-head with the United States in heat one. The United States had a small edge over New Zealand going through the 750m mark half a length ahead of the Kiwis. This fight continued with New Zealand doing a big piece at the 1250m mark and finally getting their bow ball ahead of the Americans after 1450m had been rowed. The Kiwis didn’t stop there and continued to power on to the line crossing comfortably ahead of the United States.
Germany finished fourth in this event last year and they raced from behind to win heat two. Last year’s winners, Australia had the lead at the start and held it right through to the 1500m mark. But the German’s had timed their race just that bit better and they had enough left in the tank to overtake Australia in the final sprint. It must have taken the wind out of Australia’s sails as they finished more than a boat length back and will have to return for the repechage tomorrow.
Junior Men’s Coxed Four (JM4+) – Heat
This event is no longer raced at the Olympic level but it is still strong in junior rowing and enough countries for three heats came to Racice this year. It was up to the crews to finish in the top three today if they wanted to go directly to the semifinal. Heat one opened with New Zealand in the lead followed by last year’s winners, Germany. The German’s, however, could not hold the pace and as the race progressed they began to slip back.
Meanwhile the United States, who had come from a very slow start were picking their way through the field while New Zealand found themselves dealing with Croatia. Coming into final sprint the United States had worked their way up into third and they continued to power on. New Zealand tried to hold on but with just 50m left to row the United States got their bow ball ahead of the Kiwis. USA, NZL and CRO go to the semifinal on Saturday.
For the first half of heat two Australia and Italy conducted a close battle tracking each other from across the field – Italy in lane two and Australia in lane five. This closeness was not surprising looking at last year’s final when Australia and Italy took silver and bronze respectively. This battle continued with the Czech Republic trying to close the gap through the third 500m. Then in the closing sprint Italy did a massive push with 100m remaining. It was enough to throw off the Australians. Italy, Australia and the Czech Republic go to the semifinal.
A finishing time of 6:42 by Switzerland in heat three gave them the fastest qualifying time by far in this event – a full five second ahead of the next fastest time, Italy from heat two. Switzerland scored this time by leading from start to finish. A coxed four has not been seen before at the junior championships for Switzerland, but it looks like the event was certainly suiting them today.
As the Swiss powered on they managed to secure an open water lead through the middle of the race. Coming into the final sprint Ukraine fought back but the Swiss had too much of an advantage. Switzerland, Ukraine and France go to the semifinal.
Junior Women’s Single Sculls (JW1x) – Heats
Divided into four heats, these 20 scullers were aiming to finish in the top two positions which would earn them a direct path to the semifinals on Saturday. In heat one Judith Sievers of Germany led the way. Germany’s Lisa Schmidla won this event last year and Sievers will be looking to follow in Schmidla’s footsteps. Sievers raced last year in the quad, finishing with bronze. No one got close to Sievers who was able to cross the line with open water. Also qualifying was Toni Boteva of Azerbaijan who came through from the back of the field to take second.
A solid race by 16 year old Laura Oprea of Romania gave her first place in heat two. Oprea is at her first international event and she raced a very mature and stable race at the front of the field. Behind the Romanian, Tarin Cokelj of Slovenia managed to work her way through to second to qualify. But Cokelj was a full 10 seconds down on Oprea and there’s no doubt that she will have to step up the pace when she races the semifinal on Saturday.
Aikaterini Nikolaidou of Greece recorded the fastest qualifying time in heat three when she finished in a time of 8:13. Nikolaidou raced last year as a junior in her nation’s quad and she continues her rowing career this year in the single. Nikolaidou did not lead at the start. That honour belonged to Elza Gulbe of Latvia. But by the half way point Nikolaidou had pushed through to the lead and then she moved away from Gulbe. These are the two boats that will qualify with the rest of the field a huge margin back.
For the first half of heat four, Annick Taselaar of the Netherlands and Krisztina Gyimes of Hungary remained tightly together. But then last year’s 8th place finisher, Gyimes showed her superior stamina as she kept the pace up through the second half of the race to finish first. Taselaar, at her third junior championships, remained just ahead of a fast finishing Italy to take second and qualify for the semifinal.
Junior Women’s Pair (JW2-) – Heats
The two heats in this event required crews to finish in one of the top two spots if they wanted to go directly to Saturday’s final. Last year’s winners, Romania have a new crew this year of Alexandra Bizom and Elena-Oltita Hrisca and they led the way in heat one. The duo had enough of a lead that they could keep a clear eye on the goings on behind them.
These goings on included a close battle between Bulgaria, the United States and Germany. The German Davids twins got the upper hand in the end and this earned them the second place. Romania and Germany qualify for the final on Saturday with the two fastest qualifying times.
Heat two had Kassiani and Andreanna Spyridou of Greece out in front right from the start with the rest of the field only able to watch the Greeks disappear into the distance. Belarus followed way back in second with two rowers that raced last year in their nation’s junior four. In a procession of a race, Greece and Belarus took the two qualifying spots.
Junior Men’s Pair (JM2-) – Heats
A total of three heats made up this event with the top two from each heat earning their right to race in the semifinals on Saturday. The first heat opened with Azerbaijan in the lead. Azerbaijan has developed swiftly in the last couple of years in rowing under their German coach Rudiger Hauffe and positive government support and it is showing today amongst their small team. But Azerbaijan did not have an easy run as Greece’s Michalis Nastopoulos and Apostolos Lampridis paced them through the first half of the race. The Greeks then managed to push ahead of Azerbaijan who were unable to react. By the final 200m of the race, Greece had a very handy lead. Greece and Azerbaijan qualify for the semifinal.
The second heat had Germany off to a fast start with the Czech Republic and France being the closest challengers. By the half way point this had all changed. France’s William Chopy and Benoit Demey had taken over in the lead with Germany now in second and the Czech Republic right off the pace. France continued to move away in the lead with the Germans now looking satisfied just to hold on to second. France and Germany will qualify for the semifinals.
The final heat, heat three turned out to be the most exciting with a number of challenges going on throughout the race. The race opened with four crews, South Africa, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Turkey all close together. This tightness remained through the middle of the race with Spain now also joining in on the leading action. The pressure remained on as South Africa did a big push in the third 500 giving them the lead ahead of Turkey. The push proved to be South Africa’s undoing and as they began to slip back Turkey and Slovenia gave it their all in the final sprint. Turkey’s Onat Kazakli and Ogeday Girisken got there first and will qualify for the semifinal with the fastest time. Slovenia qualify from second.
Junior Women’s Double Sculls (JW2x) – Heats
Lining up in the biggest women’s event of this regatta, the double had 21 crews spread over four heats with the top boat only from each heat earning a direct track to the semifinals on Saturday. In three out of four of the heats the race for first got sorted out early on. In that fourth heat, which turned out to be heat four, the battle for first remained for the majority of the race. This is how the fourth heat panned out:
Greece’s Eleni Diamanti and Lydia Ntalamagka had a small lead over Jessica Hall and Madeleine Edmunds of Australia at the start of the race. Australia held on to the Greek’s lead and by the middle of the race the battle between these two countries had moved them clear away from the rest of the field. Then, in the third 500, Hall and Edmunds made their move, getting their bow ball just inches ahead of the Greek boat. Diamanti and Ntalamagka seemed to have lost faith. Hall and Edmunds qualify for the semifinal.
Despite this tight race in heat four, the fastest qualifying time turned out to be in heat one, and by a handy margin. This time, of 7:31 was set by Elena Coletti and Giada Colombo of Italy. In this race Germany, who are the reigning World Champions of this event (but with a new crew this year), had the lead at the start. Coletti and Colombo remained unfazed and kept the pressure firm and steady, taking the lead by the half way point. The Germans did not fight back. Coletti and Colombo head for the semifinal with the psychological edge of knowing that they have the fastest time.
Heat two was all about Iuliana-Madalina Iacob and Maria-Evelina Cogianu of Romania. The duo took off out of the starting blocks in the lead and after the first 60 strokes they already had a boat length lead. This lead continued to grow through the middle of the race. Meanwhile, behind the Romanians, it was pretty tight between Japan, Korea and Croatia. Croatia then managed to drop Japan and Korea and close the gap on Romania, but it was only a dent in the Romanian’s lead. Iacob and Cogianu go to the semifinal.
Heat three opened with a very quick France grabbing the lead and moving clear away from the entire field. Then, with a five length lead, bow, Daphine Socha caught a massive crab that left the boat standing still as Socha tried to get her oar back into place. Norway’s Rebecca Frazee and Benedikte Tollefsen seized the opportunity and took over in the lead, never looking back. Norway moves on to the semifinal and France, who crossed the line in last will return to race in tomorrow’s repechage. Watch out for France later in the week. There is every indication that they will have a good showing.
Junior Men’s Four (JM4-) – Heats
Divided into two heats, the top boat only in each heat would get to go directly to Saturday’s final. At the end of the two races this turned out to be Great Britain and Romania. Romania, who were silver medallists in 2009, won heat one by leading from start to finish. They demonstrated the quickness of their technique which uses fast, choppy, short strokes to propel them down the course. They crossed the finish line of the 2000m course comfortably ahead of Spain.
Great Britain, who are the reigning World Champions in this event took out heat two but not without a struggle. At the start Great Britain led, but only just over Belarus, the Czech Republic and Germany. By the middle of the race Belarus had claimed the lead with Great Britain going with them. The pace must have taken its toll on Belarus and Great Britain regained the lead coming into the final sprint. Then Germany turned up the pace, but they had left it a bit late and Great Britain got to the line first to claim a spot in the final.
Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls (JW4X) – Heats
The two heats in this event required crews to finish first only if they wanted to go directly to the final. All other boats would have to return to race in tomorrow’s repechage. Germany and Belarus became the two qualifying boats with Germany recording the fastest time of all the crews. Germany has always been strong at the senior level in quads and last year the junior crew finished third. There is every indication that they want to get back on top and today, in heat two, they completely dominated the race winning by a huge 14 seconds at the end. This huge margin begs the question, did the other boats decide not to push all the way to the line? Were they saving themselves for a big race in tomorrow’s repechage?
Heat one was a different story. The United States had the fastest start before Russia pulled them back in and gained the lead with 500m rowed. Russia then tried to hold onto that lead under increasing pressure from Belarus. Going through the third 500 margins remained tight with Russia being pressured by not just Belarus, but also the United States and now Romania. Belarus looked to have the best momentum. This crew had raced two weeks ago at the under 23 champs and finished 12th. Today they managed to overtake Russia with just 200m remaining to earn the qualifying spot.
Junior Men’s Quadruple Sculls (JM4X) – Heats
A full field of 24 countries in this event got divided down into four heats with the top boat only from each heat earning a direct path to Saturday’s semifinal. Italy opened the proceedings by setting the standard in heat one, not only by time but by technique as well. The boat includes two seat Matteo Baluganti who is being coached by famed lightweight sculler Leonardo Pettinari. At the finish line the Italians were a clear 12 seconds ahead of the next crew, Russia.
Heat two was much closer but still had a clear leader. Great Britain took the lead at the start and managed to work their way to a handy four second margin going through the middle of the race. This left a close battle to go on behind them between Austria, Belarus and Greece. Coming into the final sprint, Greece had got the better of the battle and then they went after Great Britain. The British, however, were prepared and despite the Greek’s closing sprint, Great Britain remained in the lead to become the sole qualifier.
New Zealand finished with bronze last year and remaining from that crew, Hayden Cohen sat in stroke seat. Today they started their junior world champs by shaking off Poland to win heat three. In a very spread out field, New Zealand qualify from first. Poland hold off Norway to take second and these crews will return for tomorrow’s repechage.
Heat four was led from start to finish by last year’s World Champions, Germany. The German’s stroked by Patrick Leineweber, had to contend with Ukraine early on, however the Germans had the better stamina to push right away to a clear water lead. Ukraine then came under threat from a late charge by the Czech Republic, but the charge was merely semantics as Germany’s lead was by now too big to master. Germany go to the semifinal with the second fastest qualifying time.
Junior Women’s Eight (JW8+) – Heats
The two heats in the women’s eight required crews to finish first if they wanted to go directly to the final which has now been changed to Saturday (previously it was scheduled for Sunday). In heat one the reigning World Champions, the United States raced from the front. Remaining from last year’s winning crew is Louise Breen who sits in seven seat. In front of Breen, stroke Rosemary Grinalds is just 15 years old and follows in her sister Lucy’s footsteps who also rows on the junior team. Under Grinalds’ rhythm, the US crew remained not only in the lead but they move clear away from Romania in second. The 17 second lead at the finish line for the US is nothing short of absolute domination.
Heat two had Great Britain in the lead throughout the race under the guidance of Lily Van Den Broecke in the coxswain’s seat. This is Van Den Broecke’s first international regatta and she led the crew to the finish line in a style that ensured a spot in Saturday’s final. Behind Great Britain, last year’s bronze medallists, Germany will have to race in tomorrow’s repechage.
Junior Men’s Eight (JM8+) – Heats
The 12 nations entered in this event were divided into two heats with the top boat only in each heat getting a direct path to the final on Sunday. Heat one featured Great Britain and Italy the silver and bronze medallists (respectively) from 2009. The two crews led the way at the start with Great Britain holding a slight margin over Italy. But this all changed through the 750m mark when Italy did a push that got their nose just ahead of the British 200m later.
Five members of the Italian crew are the same as last year including Vincenzo Abbagnale, son of the famous Abbagnale rowing family. The Italians remained in the lead and although the British held on gallantly, they began to fade towards the end. Italy get the first spot in the final.
The morning of heats finished with race 40, heat two of the men’s eight and the reigning World Champion Germany indicated that they still had what it takes. Canada had the leaders advantage at the start with Germany and the United States following closely. As the United States began to drop back a bit Germany held onto Canada’s pace; then in the third 500, Germany attacked. Canada couldn’t take in. Coming into the final sprint Germany had the lead and was moving further away from their competition. There was nothing left for Canada to give. The United States made a concerted effort, but they had left it too late. Germany are in the final on Sunday.