The Sinkovic brothers, the emerging talent and the men's double
In the past two years, Croatia has taken the men’s double sculls by storm. The Sinkovic brothers, Valent and Martin, won every race that they entered and set a World Best Time in their semifinal at the 2014 World Rowing Championships.
Until 2013 the Sinkovics had been part of their nation’s medal-hauling men’s quadruple sculls. Now they have become the crew to beat in the double, dominating the field, as well establishing themselves as two of the most popular athletes in the world of rowing.
World Rowing continues its series of boat class reviews, highlighting the best performances in 2015.
Since the first World Rowing Championships in 1962, the men's double has seen a variety of nations take command. But the nation with the most impressive World Championship medal collection in this event is Norway. The world title won recently in 2013 by Norwegians Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch as well as the bronze medal scored in 1999 by Olaf Tufte and crewmate Fredrik Bekken played a part in building up their nation’s statistics in this boat class.
It is Alf Hansen, however, the legendary Norwegian sculler from the 1970s and the 1980s, who can lay claim to half of the 15 World Championship medals won by his nation in the men’s double over the past 60+ years. His fellow countryman Rolf Thorsen did nearly as well in the 1980s and 1990s, with six World Championship medals in this event, three of which were earned in partnership with Hansen.
At the Olympic level, the United States top the historical medals table with an impressive 11 medals, six of them gold. Most of those medals were won in the early 1900s by John Kelly and Paul Costello. The last United States Olympic medal in this event dates back to the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.
Leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, New Zealand became the leading crew. Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan won two world titles in a row, then secured the Olympic gold. This year, a new Kiwi crew came to the fore, with Robert Manson and Christopher Harris taking bronze at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette. Manson has represented his nation consistently in the double since 2013, regularly being an A-finalist. This year Manson's persistence paid off with his first ever senior World Championship medal.
Lithuania has been a strong contender in the men's double for a number of years. Saulius Ritter and Rolandas Mascinskas formed a team in 2011 and that same year became European Champions for the first time. Finalists at the London Olympic Games, they won World Championship silver in 2013, followed by a second European Championship gold in 2014. This year they were on the World Championship podium with silver. They will be heading to their second Olympic Games in a better position than they were four years ago.
Germany formed a new double combination in 2015. They placed their top two single scullers Stephan Krueger and Marcel Hacker in the same boat. The strategy proved successful with a European Champion title as well as two World Cup medals collected through the season. In Aiguebelette the German duo finished fourth, falling away from medal position in the final strokes and crossing the line only four tenths of a second behind New Zealand.
Australia’s James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff were the world bronze medallists in 2014 and this year they took silver at the World Rowing Cup in Varese and bronze in Lucerne. But at the World Rowing Championships, they started at the back of the field along with the French combination of Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias, and were unable to move into medal-contending position. Australia finished fifth, with France in sixth.
A total of 11 Olympic qualification spots were available at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, while the final two spots will be contended at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland this coming May. After a 12th-place finish in Aiguebelette, no doubt Norway, the 2013 World Champions, will be working hard to grab one of those final qualification spots so as to be able to book their Olympic ticket for Rio.
Boats qualified so far for Rio:
3. New Zealand
8. Great Britain