The year that was … women’s single sculls
The talented bunch in this boat class kept each other – and rowing fans everywhere – on their toes in 2016 with many of the top rowers saying the competition was so good they would be lucky to make the Rio Olympic final. In the end, the season delivered a new Olympic Champion and lots of great racing along the way.
Historic victory: Kim Brennan became Australia’s first women’s single scull Olympic Champion after a race that she claimed from the start. The 2015 World Champion has not missed a podium finish in any of her races since 2014 and she was not about to let Olympic gold get away. She stormed out of the blocks and, despite some strong challenges, never looked like losing.
Honourable mention for general awesomeness: Two-time Olympic Champion, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, participated in her seventh Olympic Games at Rio. The Belarussian came second in a B-final stacked with great rowers. Karsten may not be as fast as she was at her peak but the 44-year-old showed she still has what it takes to row at this level, winning silver at the World Rowing Cup regatta in Varese earlier in 2016 and also coming fourth at the 2016 European Rowing Championships.
“I don’t know how I feel, I have imagined it so many times. I put so much work in the past 11 years, it was a great journey with my teammates and my coach. My husband has a gold medal, I needed mine. I look forward to celebrating that with him.” - Kim Brennan (AUS) – gold
“I don’t know (that) you can do a 2k and have it not hurt, but it hurt way more than I expected. Once I was at the 1250m I knew I was in a good position. It means everything to me. So many years of hard work. My dad is my coach, my mom rowed too. Everyone has helped me along the way.” - Genevra Stone (USA) - silver
“I feel very excited, but also very surprised to win a medal.” - Jingli Duan (CHN) – bronze
The year in review:
It was a tough and exciting year to be a top women’s sculler with so many great contenders for Olympic glory. Even the B-final at Rio had two former Olympic Champions (Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic (2012 Olympic Champion) and Karsten (1996 and 2000 Olympic Champion), an Olympic silver medallist (Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark) and 2016 World Rowing Cup gold medallists (Carling Zeeman of Canada).
But Brennan, wanted the top Olympic prize the most and dominated the class all year, winning gold at the Poznan and Lucerne World Rowing Cup regattas before taking the top spot at Rio. Brennan had expected to be challenged by the 2014 World Champion, Emma Twigg of New Zealand who had taken the 2015 year off to study. But Twigg could only manage fourth, and immediately announced her retirement.
Genevra Stone of the United States, took her first Olympic medal with silver at Rio after a strong season where she also won silver at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne. China’s Jingli Duan, who was a regular finalist in 2016, was delighted to finally make the podium when she took Olympic bronze. World Rowing Cup medallist, Jeannine Gmelin, of Switzerland came fifth, and the European Champion, Austria’s Magdanena Lobnig, was sixth.
With so much depth, and some promising talent on the rise, the women’s single sculls looks to remain a very exciting class to watch in 2017.
Rio Olympic final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR1RhdL2Kc4