Uncovering new talent during finals at the Rowing World Cup
Conditions were good but opened with rain that stuck around for the first part of the afternoon’s racing. Still the crowd had much action to watch including a medal for China’s new men’s eight, a gold for Poland’s number one crew and two medals in the women’s pair for the United States.
, Austria" border="0" src="/medias/images/media_352391.jpg" title=" © Simon Lorenz" width="250">Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Final
Last year was Qin Li’s first go at international competition. She finished 8th in the double with 21-year-old Liang Tian. This year they have stepped up a notch, but not without a fight. With World Champions Australia and former World Champions New Zealand not racing here the favourites must have been Germany’s Britta Oppelt and Susanne Schmidt who are currently ranked second in the world. However, Oppelt and Schmidt had been beaten coming into this final and they came out at the start back in fifth place. Meanwhile Li and Tian had pushed past a fast starting United States duo to take the lead.
The Chinese didn’t stop there opening up a full-length gap going through the middle of the race and continuing to increase it. Their long lay-back stroke and lower rating was doing the trick for Li and Tian as the Americans slipped further back. Then Germany’s two crews began to attack. The sprint was on. Italy rated higher but made no impact. USA got up to 38 to try and retain their position. Oppelt and Schmidt, at 37, made up the most ground. At the line Li and Tian had won gold, Oppelt and Schmidt pick up silver and their sculling teammates, Germany2 of Christiane Huth and Stephanie Schiller come through to bronze.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Final
The reigning World Champions, Dongxiang Xu and Shimin Yan of China got a scare yesterday when they were beaten in the semifinal. Today there was going to be another surprise for them. This is how it unfolded. Xu and Yan got off the line first and established just a tiny lead over Canada’s Lindsay Jennerich and Tracy Cameron. The lead did not last. Both Canada and Germany pushed ahead. Canada’s lead also didn’t last. A strong piece coming into the last 500m gave Katrin Olsen and Juliane Rasmussen of Denmark the lead.
Olsen, 29, and Rasmussen, 28, competed last year in the lightweight quad where they finished second and now selected the Olympic boat class, the double, the duo gave an indication to their boat speed by winning yesterday’s semifinal. At a 34 stroke rate pace they continued to hold the lead with now China3, Haixia Chen and Hua Yu, coming swiftly down the outside.
At the line the World Champions had not only lost, they were off the medals podium. Instead it was Olsen and Rasmussen in the gold spot, Chen and Yu taking silver and Jennerich and Cameron holding on for bronze.
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Final
They may be reigning World Champions but yesterday China got beaten by Italy1 in the semifinal. Today, facing Italy1, they knew the challenge that was on their hands. China took a flying start leaving the starters at a 40 stroke rate pace and remaining at 38 as they passed through the first 500m mark. Great Britain, winners of yesterday’s second semifinal, held on. There wasn’t much in it and despite the effort China was putting in, they could not shake off their opposition.
A piece before the half-way mark gave Italy1 the lead. Stroked by former Portuguese rower Bruno Mascarenhas, the Italian crew is made up of three of the athletes, including Mascarenhas, who won bronze in this event at the 2004 Olympics. China fought back and coming into the final sprint China got up to 41 strokes per minute. Italy1 answered with 40, with Great Britain coming back at 42. At the line China had retained their honour with gold medal position, Italy1 had established themselves as the best Italian line-up with silver and Great Britain had held on to take bronze.
Great Britain's Lindsay-Fynn, "It is brilliant to be the first crew to get a medal in this discipline for so long."
, AUSTRIA - JUNE 03: (L to R) Katherine Grainger, Frances Houghton, Debbie Flood and Annie Vernon of Great Britain pose for the camera after they win Gold in the Women's Quadruple Sculls Final during Day Three of the FISA Rowing World Cup held at Ottensheim on June 3, 2007 near Linz, Austria. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)" border="0" src="/medias/images/media_352443.jpg" title=" © 2007 Getty Images" width="250">Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Final
Two-time World Champions, Great Britain did not look under any real pressure. Katherine Grainger, Great Britain’s most successful woman rower, Frances Houghton, Debbie Flood and new member Annie Vernon got out to a comfortable lead and had enough space to keep an eye on China in second. With an open-water gap Great Britain was able to sit comfortably on 33 strokes per minute for the majority of the race with barely a sprint necessary. Meanwhile China were giving it their best effort even though they had a clear water lead over the slow-starting, now picking-up-pace Germans.
At the line Great Britain take gold, China earns silver and the young German crew comes through to bronze.
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Final
Coming into this event there was no doubt that Poland, as reigning World Champions and World Best Time holders as well as 2006 World Rowing Male Team of the Year, were the hot favourites. The pressure was on them to perform. And they did. Leading from the start Poland took to the front over Germany Two, even if only just. Going through the middle of the race Germany Two were still there. Poland had to keep the pressure on. Then Italy began to move. Made up of two members of the Sydney 2000 gold medal quad, the Italians are aiming to get back to the top of this event. Back into the fold is Rossano Galtarossa who comes back from post-2004 Olympics retirement where he won bronze.
In the final sprint Poland used their lead to keep an eye on the rest of the crew with Italy and Germany taking second to a photo finish. It came down to the difference between being at the catch or the finish. Italy take second and Germany win bronze. All three of these crews looked very happy as they picked up their medals from the 217th race of this regatta.
Women’s Eight (W8+) – Final
Was Germany saving themselves for this one? Despite some of their team also racing in the women’s pair, the Germans looked fresh as they headed out in the lead of this penultimate race of the first Rowing World Cup. Surprisingly it was Great Britain that latched onto second place. Australia, last year’s bronze medallists, got off to a good start and then faded. The extra pairs racing at this regatta maybe had taken its toll.
Germany, stroked by Elke Hipler, stayed on 35 strokes per minute and held on to the lead with Great Britain remaining in second. This left Canada and the Netherlands to fight it out for the bronze. In the process of the Canadian-Netherlands tussle the two boats advanced to put Great Britain under threat. Ratings started to rise. Germany held on to win gold. Great Britain takes silver, their first silver medal for the women’s eight this decade, and the Netherlands gets the better of Canada to win bronze.