The year that was … men’s four
For 2016 in the men’s four it was all about Great Britain. It was, after all, an Olympic year and they have won every Olympic fours gold since Sydney in 2000. But, victory did not come easily for the crew that only had one alumni from their London win.
Best race: The Olympic final. Great Britain may have had recent history on their side but the Australians were out to break that Olympic winning streak. Side by side in the centre lanes, the crews were locked in battle for the entire 2000 metres. Well known for their fast starts and wanting to lead the entire race, the British had it at 500 metres but Australia came at them. The two boats then had a race of their own as they moved clear of the rest of the field. Australia rated higher but Britain was faster and won by a nose. Italy took bronze over South Africa, Canada and the Netherlands.
Best (friendly) rivalry: Great Britain and Australia. The two crews could well be the fiercest competitors on the course. Though Great Britain has it over Australia when it comes to Olympic glory, for the past few years Australia has been right there beside them, winning more World Championship medals than any other nation in the last Olympic cycle. But, the two crews have great respect and friendship off the water. After his Rio win, Great Britain’s Alex Gregory said “I count these guys (Australia) as my mates. It is hard racing your mates. We all spend the same amount of time, are after the same dreams - sometimes I wish they would go a little bit slower.”
“I would say that pressure really is more about gambling that four years of your life for six minutes of racing. That pressure overrides any sense of historical significance. It is more what do we stand to lose, we stand to lose that four years. That personal pressure that you put on yourself outweighs the history of it.” - George Nash (GBR) – after Rio gold
“Obviously at the start you want to win. We had a great race. It is hard to be disappointed with that. We’ve gotten beaten by an incredible British crew. I am so proud of my teammates.” - Will Lockwood (AUS) – after Rio silver
“Our stroke (Giuseppe Vicino) is complete crazy, the last 500m, he is terrible, he is crazy. Have you seen us sprint?! Matteo (Castaldo) is very serious. Domenico is strong. I think that this is a fantastic team.” - Domenico Montrone (ITA) – bronze in Rio
Year in review: The fast-paced fours provided the thrills fans have come to expect from this boat class with close races and old rivalries. Great Britain retained its Olympic dominance but was pushed all season by Rio silver medallists Australia who took bronze at the World Cup in Poznan and silver in Lucerne.
The 2015 World Champions, Italy, had a solid season with medals at the World Rowing Cups in Poznan and Varese, but they knew they would have to fight to even be on the podium at Rio. They were delighted with their Brazilian bronze, with Giuseppe Vicino saying they put a lot of heart and emotion into getting there.
Another traditionally strong fours nation, the United States, failed to fire in Rio. They were knocked out in the semifinals after a solid season that included World Rowing Cup gold in Varese. And the 2013 World Champions, the Netherlands, were fifth in the Rio finals despite also medalling twice in the World Cup regattas this year.
South Africa had a solid season finishing fourth in Rio while Athens 2004 Olympic silver medallists, Canada were sixth at the Rio Olympics.