Who to Watch – Samsung World Rowing Cup III, Munich, Germany
The Samsung World Rowing Cup III in Munich, Germany is the very last chance for crews to race each other before they meet at the Olympic Games in London. This means that many of the top contenders for Olympic gold will be giving it their all on Munich’s 1972 Olympic regatta course. Watch out for the action from 15 – 17 June, 2012.
Women’s Pair (W2-)
Can Great Britain continue their winning streak? Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain have won each stage of the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup so far (in Belgrade and then in Lucerne) and head to the third and final stage of the Samsung World Rowing Cup series wearing the leader’s yellow jersey. Glover and Stanning will again be up against World Champions from New Zealand Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown who finished nearly four seconds behind them in Lucerne.
They are the Olympic Champions in this event from 2004 and 2008 and are making a comeback. Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu of Romania arrived on the international rowing scene in Belgrade where they finished seventh. But don’t dismiss them on the medals front. They would not be doing this without gold medal goals.
Keep an eye out too for Australia’s Sarah Tait and Kate Hornsey. The 2011 bronze medallists were fourth last month in Lucerne, but will no doubt improve, coming to Munich more acclimatised.
Germany’s Marlene Sinnig and Kerstin Hartmann qualified their pair for the Olympic Games at the 2012 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta after finishing fifth in Belgrade. Their qualification will no doubt give them a boost of confidence as they line up in Munich.
Men’s Pair (M2-)
In rowing there have been some mighty combinations in the men’s pair – the Landvoigt brothers, Pinsent and Redgrave, James Tomkins and Drew Ginn. Now there is Hamish Bond and Eric Murray from New Zealand. Bond and Murray remain unbeaten since they joined together in 2009. Lucerne will be just another stepping stone for Bond and Murray on their way to their four-year plan of Olympic gold.
To catch Bond and Murray will take a monumental effort and in the absence of the Canadians and the Greeks it will be up to Germany’s Anton Braun and Felix Drahotta to give their best. Braun and Drahotta won the first stage of the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup, but then slipped back to fourth at the second stage in Lucerne. Braun and Drahotta will have to keep an eye out for Italy’s Niccolo Mornati and World Rowing’s June Athlete of the Month Lorenzo Carboncini.
A surprise performance may come from James Marburg and Brodie Buckland of Australia. A month of training in Europe could help their racing chances.
Watch out too for the newly Olympic-qualified combination of Dorian Mortelette and Germain Chardin of France. Both were part of the 2010 World Champion men’s four and also won Olympic bronze in the four in Beijing. The British duo has withdrawn.
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)
Racing at Munich will be another step towards the quest of Britain’s most successful female rower, Katherine Grainger, to win the elusive Olympic gold. Grainger has three Olympic silver medals, but gold is still missing from her collection. When Grainger teamed up in the double with Anna Watkins in 2010 it was instant success. The duo has not lost a race since. They go to Munich as favourites with the rest of their competitors likely to be racing for silver.
At the front of this quest are Magdalena Fularczyk and Julia Michalska of Poland. Fularczyk and Michalska are 2009 World Champions and their silver medal at the second stage of the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne shows that they are coming up to speed again.
A careful eye should be kept on Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley of Australia. Pratley has come back from injury to join 2011 world silver medallist Crow in the double. Crow must be on a high. In the absence of Pratley, Crow raced to a phenomenal second-place finish in the women’s single sculls at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. If Pratley is back at full strength it is likely this combination could surprise.
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)
Three boats finished within one second of each other at the second stage of the Samsung World Rowing Cup. Leading the field were 2009 World Champions Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger of Germany. Knittel and Krueger had an injury-plagued 2011 but look to be back to full strength this year and so far have gone unbeaten.
Following behind the Germans were Olympic Champions David Crawshay and Scott Brennan of Australia who crossed the line in a photo finish with Cedric Berrest and Julien Bahain of France. Crawshay and Brennan are working to defend their Olympic title, while Berrest and Bahain (who won Olympic bronze in the quad in Beijing) are the top medal hopes for France in rowing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
This tough event also includes Slovenia’s best and Olympic Champions from 2000, Iztok Cop and Luka Spik. They finished a very close fourth in Lucerne after being in a medal position for most of the race.
Don’t discount current World Champions New Zealand (Joseph Sullivan and NathanCohen). Sullivan and Cohen had an unsuccessful Lucerne regatta, but will likely have the sense to sort out their rhythm and get back into medal-winning form.
Men’s Four (M4-)
An epic battle between Australia and Great Britain at last month’s Samsung World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne was one of the highlights of the regatta. Australia, featuring three-time Olympic Champion Drew Ginn, led for the majority of the race but didn’t have the legs in the final sprint against World Champions Great Britain who finished first. These two crews will meet again in Munich.
The Australian-British encounter left all other boats a distance back. In the absence of Lucerne third-place finishers Greece, fourth-place finishers Belarus, who won bronze in Belgrade, may get an opportunity to step up into the medals again.
Keep an eye out too for the Czech Republic’s Horvath, Podrazil, Bruncvik and Klang. They finished fourth at Samsung World Rowing Cup I in Belgrade and then went on to win at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)
In Lucerne, Louise Ayling and Julia Edward of New Zealand set a new World Best Time and then went on to finish second behind China in the final. The Chinese are not racing in Munich, and neither are two-time World Champions Alexandra Tsiavou and Christina Giazitzidou of Greece, meaning that Ayling and Edward will be the crew to beat.
It is likely to be Great Britain and Denmark breathing down the New Zealander’s backs. Great Britain’s Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland were second at Samsung World Rowing Cup I and then slipped into fifth in Lucerne. After ironing out some glitches Hosking and Copeland will be back for Munich with medals on their minds.
The Danes Juliane Rasmussen and Anne Lolk Thomsen are regular A-finalists, finishing fourth in Belgrade and sixth in Lucerne and, with a good race, they look to have the potential to medal.
Keep an eye out as well for Australia and Brazil. Both of these crews finished in the B-final in Lucerne, but both countries have experience in the boat that should see them improve this time around.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
At the London Olympic Games 20 countries will compete in this event. In Munich, 13 of them will compete against each other while a further five crews will want to test themselves against the Olympians. Last year’s World Rowing Championship medallists are all there – Great Britain (Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter), New Zealand (Storm Uru and Peter Taylor) and Italy (Elia Luini and Lorenzo Bertini).
So far this season World Champions Purchase and Hunter have had a bumpy ride. They were first in Belgrade but slipped back to sixth in Lucerne. Uru and Taylor raced in Lucerne taking silver while Luini and Bertini raced at Samsung World Rowing Cup I where they took bronze.
The big news of this event, however, is the new French duo of Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre. Azou and Delayre won against the classy Lucerne field in their first international outing together. Was it beginners luck or a sign of things to come? Munich racing should give a good indication.
Watch out too for Denmark’s Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist. These Olympic medallists from 2008 know what it takes to be at the top and will only improve as the Olympic Games draw closer.
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)
Olympic Champions Denmark always race to win, so do the British. These two crews will come head-to-head in Munich. Great Britain has scored silver and bronze this season while Denmark has one gold and a fourth-place finish. Great Britain may have the upper edge as they return to a full-strength crew with Peter Chambers back in the boat.
In the absence of Lucerne winners China, there should be the opportunity for another crew to step up into the medals spot. France and Australia have the capability. Australia (Anthony Edwards, Samuel Beltz, Benjamin Cureton and Todd Skipworth) are the reigning World Champions. However, in their first international outing for 2012, Australia finished seventh at Samsung World Rowing Cup II. France has remained consistent with two fifth place finishes from both stages of the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup series.
Keep an eye out for the Italians. They are racing in Munich for the first time this season and as the 2011 world silver medallist it is likely they will be able to show considerable boatspeed in this last showdown before the London Olympic Games.
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
Ukraine has prioritised this boat for the Olympic Games and so far has won two gold medals at Samsung World Rowing Cup I and II this season. But Ukraine will have to be on their toes as Germany moved their best two scullers out of the double and into the quad to take on Ukraine. Britta Oppelt and Annekatrin Thiele have been added to the German boat.
Ukraine looked good this season in their racing-from-the-front strategy, but it will be interesting to see how they handle the new strength in the German boat.
There has also been a bit of a shuffle since the last regatta in the British and Australian boats. Great Britain has a new stroke in the form of Olympic medallist Debbie Flood. Australia has brought in Amy Clay to take the place of Pippa Savage.
The crystal ball predicts that this race will see Ukraine and Germany battling it out at the front of the field with the remaining boats racing for bronze.
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)
Going into their fourth year together as a crew, Croatia’s Valent and Martin Sinkovic, David Sain and Damir Martin have become the crew to beat. Croatia has gold medals from both the first and second stages of the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup and have won their races by performing the best-paced racing style.
Earlier in this Olympic cycle it looked like 2008 Olympic Champions and four-time World Champions Poland would go to London as the crew to beat, but Croatia will now take over in this role. Poland is not racing in Munich but there is still a solid pack of competition including last year’s world silver medallists Germany. The Germans have finished second twice to Croatia this season.
At their international debut this year in Lucerne, World Champions Australia found themselves racing in the B-final. Now, with formerly injured Daniel Noonan back in the boat, the Australians will surely improve their position.
Watch out too for Estonia. They won the Final Olympic Qualification at the end of May and then raced to fourth at Samsung World Rowing Cup II a few days later.
Women’s Eight (W8+)
Romania is back for Munich and their prowess in Olympic eights is well-established. The Romanians won Olympic gold in 1996, 2000 and 2004 and know how to plan training to peak right on time for the Olympic Games. After missing out on gold at the 2008 Olympic
Games and winning bronze instead, Romania wants the top spot back and this race should be a true test of where they are at.
In the absence of Canada and the United States, the Netherlands are likely to be the toughest competition for Romania. The Dutch finished first at Samsung World Rowing Cup I in Belgrade and then took the bronze at Samsung World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne behind an epic battle between the North Americans which had the United States just holding on to first.
Keep an eye out too for Australia. They won the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta and then went on to take fourth in Lucerne. This crew is fired-up to race well after having to lobby Rowing Australia to put together a women’s eight for London.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
The 24 entries make up an assorted affair. None of the medallists from the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne will be in Munich but the field does include former Olympic and World Champion Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus. Karsten has not been seen racing yet this season and there will be much interest in her current form.
World Champion from 2010, Frida Svensson of Sweden, is back. Svensson finished fourth in Belgrade, pulled out of Lucerne for medical reasons and will go to Munich following a win at Amsterdam’s Holland Beker regatta. New Zealand’s world medallist Emma Twigg was to have raced at the Holland Beker regatta prior to Munich but pulled out to focus on being at full strength for Munich.
Watch out for Nataliya Mustafayeva of Azerbaijan. Mustafayeva picked up a bronze medal in Belgrade and then finished fourth in Lucerne. This puts Mustafayeva in a good medal winning chance at Munich.
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
At the Olympic Games there are spots for 33 men’s single scullers. In Munich 31 boats will line up and a number of them will not be in London. But of those London-bound, the calibre is high, despite the absence of Ondrej Synek (CZE) who won gold in Belgrade and in Lucerne.
Synek duelled with World Champion Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand last month, getting the better of the champion by half a second but then Drysdale comfortably beat Synek last weekend at the Holland Beker regatta in Amsterdam.
Drysdale is racing in Munich and it is likely his greatest threat will come from Alan Campbell of Great Britain. Campbell is a regular on the medals podium with one of the best sprints amongst the scullers.
Both Lassi Karonen (SWE) and Olaf Tufte (NOR) pulled out of the second stage of the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup for medical reasons. They are back in Munich and using this as their last chance to test their racing speed – which has been somewhat lacking so far this season – before the London Olympic Games.
Then there is Marcel Hacker of Germany. When he is at top speed he becomes a definite medal contender, but races do not go always completely go to plan for the German.
Men’s Eight (M8+)
Great Britain has tried everything this season to out-race Germany. So far they haven’t found the answer and, thus Germany has continued into year four of its winning streak. Meanwhile Great Britain has had to be content with two silver medals from the first and second World Rowing Cups this season.
In Munich, however, Germany will not race as a couple of crew members are not at full-strength. This could spell Great Britain’s chance at gold. The British have slightly tweaked their line up by swapping Mohamad Sbihi and Tom Ransley’s order in the boat.
If the second World Rowing Cup is anything to go by Great Britain has the best shot at gold. This will mean other boats in the field will have to pull out a monumental effort if they want to be in the gold medal spot. Odds are that the Netherlands, who have recently changed their coach, may have a chance of doing this. Poland may also have a chance if they are willing to make it their best race ever.