Who can shake up the men's pair?
Murray and Bond, Pinsent and Cracknell, Ginn and Tomkins. The men's pair has produced some combinations that have become synonymous with the best in rowing. Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand presently hold that mantle.
This time last year Murray and Bond went into the record books with the most consecutive wins in rowing. At the Olympic, World Championship and World Cup level the number was 16. They are now at 18 and heading towards their 19th consecutive win when the race at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Saturday 20 August.
While some may say this domination has made the men’s pair 'uninteresting,' at these world championships the status quo may be in for a shake up. To add another element to their training, coach Noel Donaldson added the men's coxed pair to Murray and Bond's training. The coxed pair, a former Olympic boat class, adds a coxswain to the boat so that the two rowers have 55kg of weight to propel through the water.
Yesterday, in the coxed pair final, Murray and Bond not only won but they set a new World Best Time in the boat class. As soon as they were off the water and preparing for the medals ceremony, Murray and Bond got onto stationary bikes to get their legs prepared for the coxless pair final.
“It's going to be a big challenge, a heavier racing schedule. You're not just taking on the 20 countries in one event, you're taking on the 35 in two events and they're targeting a singular event whereas you're targeting two events," says Bond. "We're conscious that we're spreading ourselves, hopefully not too thin."
Murray and Bond will be hoping their legs are still fresh for the final of the coxless pair because charging them down will be the fast pair of Matt Langridge and James Foad of Great Britain. Langridge and Foad recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats and then lined up for the first time in the semifinals against the New Zealand pair. Langridge and Foad found themselves ahead at 500 metres. New Zealand came back to overtake them, but the margin of three seconds at the finish line is not the typically open-water lead that the Kiwis normally attain.
Langridge and Foad came to the pair late in the season. “We are coming from different routes; I was injured at the beginning of the season so I missed the European (Championships) as James was in the eight. Then we were both in the eight for the second World Cup and from then on we were in the pair. So it’s kind of going up and down but since we are in the pair it has always been getting better,” says Langridge.
The British duo will certainly have a challenge ahead of them, but it doesn’t stop them from aiming high. “Of course we are going to go for gold. This is only going to be our sixth race on 2k side by side so I’m sure we are going to gain from this semi. And once you get to the start line of a final anything can happen. So we are going to race for gold and see what happens,” Langridge says.
Also coming through the semifinals in a strong position were the German crew of Anton Braun and Bastian Bechler. They have had a mixed season this year with a silver medal from the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. But in their semifinal they out-raced the charging Spanish and South African crews. All of these crews will meet in the A-final. Can anyone upset the Kiwi’s and take home the gold medal?
Watch live at 13:28 CET on 30 August 2014 on www.worldrowing.com.