Finalists in thirteen boat classes lined up at the start to challenge for the title of World University Rowing Champion. Racing featured some convincing wins by university rowers and for many of them it was their first taste of international competition.

Australia and Poland reach the finish line in second and third place in the B-final of the men's double at the 2012 World University Rowing Championships, Kazan, RUS.

Germany top the overall  standings with three gold medals. Italy’s university rowers took home two golds, two silvers and one bronze while host nation Russia sits in third position with one bronze, two silvers and one bronze.

The 2012 season has been one to remember for South African rowing and Kirsten McCann give her nation another victory to be proud of in the first final of the day. She took control of the lightweight women’s single sculls final from an early stage and never gave her lead away. In fact, she hit a rhythm that saw her really move away from the rest of the field in the final 500m of the race. Crossing the line, McCann was obviously delighted with her performance. Ireland’s Claire Lambe crossed almost five seconds later to take silver and Dutch lightweight Nielke Elise Van Hoogenhuikze finished in bronze medal position.

Claire Lambe of Ireland, Kirsten McCann of South Africa and the Netherlands' Nielke Elise Van Hoogenhuijze, medallists in the lightweight women's single sculls at the 2012 World University Rowing Championships, Kazan, RUS.
On paper, Peter Galambos was the favourite in the lightweight men’s single sculls. He lived up to that expectation today, crossing the line in first place to take gold. However, he was put under pressure by Poland’s Bartlomiej Szymon Lesniak who pushed Galambos to just 0.6 seconds margin. Switzerland’s sole representative at these championships, Michael Schmid, took bronze.

Russia maximised their home water advantage in the women’s four. The crew, which included sisters Anastasia and Elizaveta Tikhanova, led from the first stroke. The silver and bronze medals were also decided from an early stage, with the Netherlands and Poland coming down the course in silver and bronze medal positions respectively.

The men’s pair saw an all-out battle amongst the finalists, with only Russia off the pace. France’s Benoit Demy and Julien Robinet had looked to be set to reach the line first but in the final 500m of the race the order changed, with both Italy and South Africa managing to squeeze by the French. It was gold for Luca Parlato and Davide Babboni of Italy whilst South Africa found themselves on the podium again with Leo Davis and Jozef Muller taking silver.
Men's pair's from South Africa, Italy and France proudly stand on the podium at the 2012 World University Rowing Championships, Kazan, RUS.

The women’s double sculls was another scramble for positions which resulted in one of the closest finishes of the day. Such a close race was conducted by names that are familiar from the senior international scene, thus showing the depth of talent in this boat class in Kazan. After an immense struggle by crews to establish their rank, less than half a second separated the top two finishers. Germany’s double, which included Beijing Olympian Nina Wengert, took gold over their Hungarian challengers. The Czech Republic boat, with London Olympian Lenka Antosova, crossed the line in third place.

Italy came out on top in the men’s double sculls. The duo of Federico Ustolin and Francesco  Cardaiolo are no strangers to international competition. Ustolin has raced at multiple Samsung World Rowing Cups this season and has an under-23 silver medal from 2008 to his name, while Francesco Cardaioli took silver in this boat class at the 2012 World Rowing Under 23 Championships earlier this season. They reached the Kazan course finish line ahead of Russia, who took silver and France who earned bronze.
Patrick Loliger of Mexico, Sergii Gumennyi of the Ukraine and New Zealand's Matthew Glenn are delighted with their medals from the men's single sculls at the 2012 World University Rowing Championships, Kazan, RUS.

The men’s and women’s single sculls both saw London Olympic athletes earn a spot on the podium. In the women’s single, the Czech Republic’s Jitka Antosova took top honours as she crossed the line with a clear water lead over second place Dutch sculler, Lisa Ingeborg Scheenaard. Italy’s Laura Schiavone finished in third to earn a World University Rowing Championships bronze medal. The men’s single final resulted in the second closest finish of the day with just 0.18 seconds between the relatively inexperienced Sergii Gumennyi  of Ukraine and Mexico’s double Olympian Patrick Loliger. Loliger had controlled the race up until the final metres when a real burst by Gumennyi  saw him come level with the Mexican sculler and pip him to the line. Newcomer Matthew Glenn of New Zealand took bronze, his first international medal.

The closest result of the 2012 World University Rowing Championships came in the men’s four, resulting from the battle between two crews – Germany and the Netherlands. These two crews battled down the 2,000m course, with the Germans just pushing ahead of the Dutch at the half-way point. But it remained stoke-for-stroke for the remainder of the race and a final charge from both crews coming into the finish line left the crowd and the crews themselves unsure of who had claimed gold. It was then announced that Germany were victorious, the Netherlands had gotten silver and Poland were the clear winners of bronze.

Great Britain’s Gharlotte Gillian Burgess and Eleanor Alice Mary Piggott had showed great form and promise in the heats of the lightweight women’s double sculls and their performance on Friday had earned them a direct route through to Sunday’s final. They proved themselves as the fastest crew in challenging conditions, leading from the first strokes and holding a lead over Russia’s Elena Senyukova and Anna Yazykova. France’s Carlotte Culty and Camille Leclerc crossed the line ahead the Czechs to claim bronze.
Russian, French and British lightweight women's double medallist at the 2012 World University Rowing Championships, Kazan, RUS.

Matthias Arnold and Julius Peschel of Germany came to this regatta as bronze medallists from the World Rowing Under 23 Championships this year and were favourites coming into the final. The duo lived up to expectation, building a clear-water lead over the rest of the field through the second quarter of the race. They maintained this lead over the remainder of the course to claim gold at these championships. Italy took silver while Hungary came away with bronze.

The final of the lightweight men’s four saw a mixture of experience in the athletes who lined up at the start in Kazan. It was the French crew, who are all medallists from this year’s under-23 championships (in different boats), who saw victory. They led from the start to finish a length ahead of silver medallists Italy. Russia’s four were a further length back and held off the South Africans to take bronze.
Medallists from the men's eight at the 2012 World University Rowing Championships, Kazan, RUS.

The final event of the day was the blue riband men’s eight. After Friday’s exhibition race it was clear that the Polish crew were on form, but knowing how the race would pan out was difficult to predict. Out of the blocks it was Belarus who made the initial stamp on this race. However, it was not long-lived, as the Polish crew settled into a powerful rhythm that brought them to the front of the pack. They held of the chasing British crew to take gold and claim the title of 2012 World University Rowing champions.

Athletes enjoyed the facilities of the Rowing Centre, built on the Middle Kaban Lake in Kazan, which was completed earlier this year. All crews were also provided with new boats for this competition, which proved to be a big success. University athletes will return to Kazan in 2013 for the 27th Summer Universiade, which will see a total of 13,000 students descend on the Russian sports capital.

For full results from the 2012 World University Rowing Championships click here. Take a look at the crews in action in our photo gallery here.