Who to watch at 2016 European Rowing Championships
The 2016 European Rowing Championships in Brandenburg, Germany begin this Friday, 6 May with some of the big hitters in the rowing world revealing their 2016 teams. There are more than 500 athletes competing from 34 European nations with both Germany and Great Britain sending large squads.Watch out for the new-look British men's four of Alex Gregory, Mohamed Sbihi, George Nash and Constantine Louloudis and Belarus's Ekaterina Karsten back in the women's single sculls.
Women’s Pair (W2-)
Undefeated this quadrennial and owners of the World Best Time, the women’s pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning from Great Britain will be the frontrunners in this event - their first international breakout for the 2016 season.
Other crews to look out for include Denmark’s Hedvig Rasmussen and Anne Andersen who finished fourth at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette. They will be racing for the first time this season.
Laura Oprea of Romania is one of the stars of the Romanian women's squad. She qualified the pair for the Olympics from seventh place last year at the Worlds and in Brandenburg she will race with new partner Madalina Beres. Oprea has already medalled twice in the pair at the European Rowing Championships.
Look out too for Olympic qualifiers Germany, Kerstin Hartmann and Kathrin Marchand, who recently finished fourth at World Rowing Cup I, as well as Russia who have yet to qualify for Rio but made the final in Varese.
Men’s Pair (M2-)
Great Britain and Serbia, respectively the 2015 world silver and bronze medallists, which puts them in the spotlight. The British line-up, however, is different from last year’s and also different from the crew that won gold in Varese at World Rowing Cup I. In Brandenburg, Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes will sit inside the boat instead.
Serbia’s crew of Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik has remained intact. But Vasic and Bedik only managed a seventh place at World Rowing Cup I, so their performance will be closely monitored.
Instead watch out for the Netherlands. They are sending the same crew of Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman that finished fourth at 2015 World Rowing Championships and then at World Rowing Cup I, they won silver.
Coming onto the scene for the first time this season are the two-time Olympic medallists from France, Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette. In 2012 they won silver in the men’s pair and in 2008 bronze in the men’s four. Last year at the World Rowing Championships they qualified their boat for Rio thanks to an eighth-place finish. Look out too for Russia, who will likely try and qualify for the Olympics later this season, as well as Spain, who have already qualified. Both boats made the final at World Rowing Cup I.
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)
Two of the World Championship medalling crews in the women’s double sculls will line up in Brandenburg – Greece, the silver medallists and Germany, the bronze medallists. Both nations have the same athletes on board at the European Rowing Championships: Aikaterini Nikolaidou and Sofia Asoumanaki for Greece and Julia Lier and Mareike Adams for Germany.
Look out too for 2013 World and European Champions from Lithuania, Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite. They finished fifth last year at the worlds and in recent years regularly feature on the podium and in the A-final.
Poland, though, must be the crew to beat. Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj finished fourth last year at the World Rowing Championships and were world silver medallists together in 2014. In Varese last month, they won gold. Fularczyk is also a World Champion in this event from 2009 and won Olympic bronze in 2012 with her former partner.
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)
All eyes will turn to Croatia’s superstars, the Sinkovic brothers, Martin and Valent when this boat class takes to the water. Not only do they demonstrate beautiful synchronised rowing, but they are also the 2014 and 2015 World Champion crew and also owns the World Best Time. They have already raced this season, winning gold at World Rowing Cup I in Varese.
Lithuania’s 2013 and 2015 world silver medallists, Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter will keep the field on their toes, while Germany’s Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger will be another top crew to look out for.
Also lining up are Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias from France, finalists at last year’s World Rowing Championships, as well as the British duo of John Collins and Jonathan Walton who finished eighth at the 2015 World Champs.
Keep an eye out for Norway’s Kjetl Borch and Olaf Tufte. Olaf Tufte is a two-time Olympic Champion in the men’s single sculls and has joined Borch this season potentially with Olympic aspirations. They rowed together to fourth at last month's World Rowing Cup I.
Men’s Four (M4-)
Great Britain are the 2015 world bronze medallists in this event. At these European Rowing Championships they are lining up a new crew, with four athletes hailing from Great Britain’s World Champion men’s eight: Alex Gregory, Mohamed Sbihi, George Nash and Constantine Louloudis. A top performance is expected as these athletes are the cream of British men's rowing.
Checking out the British will be 2015 World Championship finalist nations Germany and the Netherlands who will line up the same crews in Brandenburg as the ones that rowed at the World Champs. The Netherlands won bronze a few weeks ago behind the United States and Italy at World Rowing Cup I in Varese.
Denmark’s famed lightweight men’s four will be racing in the open weight category in Brandenburg, while the Czech Republic, Spain and France will line up crews that have yet to qualify for Rio.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
Five of the 14 female single scullers entered have qualified for Rio. Mirka Knapkova from the Czech Republic, the reigning Olympic Champion and 2015 silver medallist, is expected to lead the field.
Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus is back. The two-time Olympic Champion in the women’s single sculls raced to silver at World Rowing Cup I in Varese last month after having mostly competed in the women’s double sculls in the past three years. Belarus has yet to qualify for the Olympic Games in this event.
Look out too for Swiss sculler Jeannine Gmelin who qualified for the Olympics thanks to fifth-place finish at last year’s Worlds and she ranked fourth at World Rowing Cup I in Varese a few weeks ago.
Ireland’s Sanita Puspure took bronze at World Rowing Cup I and is no doubt hoping to claim one of the three final qualification spots available at the European Olympic Qualification Regatta.
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
Four of the 15 crews entered in the men’s single sculls in Brandenburg have qualified for the Rio Olympic Games and topping the list must be the supreme Czech sculler Ondrej Synek. Synek won each of the three World Rowing Championship titles in the men’s single in this current Olympic cycle. Synek also won European Championship gold in 2013 and 2014.
Mindaugas Griskonis from Lithuania was the bronze medallist at last year’s World Rowing Championships and is the 2011 and 2012 European Champion. He will be pushing into the medals at Brandenburg along with Damir Martin, the rising star in single sculling from Croatia. Martin recently won gold at the World Rowing Cup in Varese.
Look out too for Great Britain’s Alan Campbell, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and Belgium’s Hannes Obreno, who won bronze in Varese, as well as Robert Ven from Finland who finished fourth at World Rowing Cup I.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)
Approximately half of the boats lining up in Brandenburg in the lightweight women’s double sculls have already qualified for the upcoming Olympic Rowing Regatta. These include 2015 world silver medallists from Great Britain Charlotte Taylor and Katherine Copeland, as well as World Championship finalists from last year, Anne Lolk Thomsen and Juliane Rasmussen from Denmark and Fini Sturm and Marie-Louise Draeger from Germany.
British athlete Copeland was part of the 2012 Olympic Champion boat, while the Danish duo of Thomsen and Rasmussen finished fourth at London 2012. Germany’s Draeger was a finalist in the lightweight double at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Other crews likely to perform well in Brandenburg include Ireland’s Claire Lambe and Sinead Jennings as well as Poland’s Joanna Dorociak and Weronika Deresz.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
In the absence of France and Great Britain (the 2015 gold and silver medallists), Norway looks to be the crew to beat. This is the first major regatta of the 2016 season for Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway and being the 2013 World Champions and 2015 bronze medallists looks to put them in good stead against their competition.
Germany will be fielding the young but experienced combination of Moritz Moos and Jason Osborne. Together they finished sixth at the World Rowing Championships last year. The two athletes are the top lightweight single scullers in Germany, with Moos recently finishing ahead of Osborne at the national trials.
Watch out for Ireland. A few weeks ago Gary and Paul O’Donovan of Ireland won silver at the World Rowing Cup in Varese, Italy. Together they qualified their boat for the 2016 Olympic Games at last year’s World Rowing Championships by finishing 11th overall. The confidence they gained from medalling early this season will no doubt serve them well at the European Championships.
Belgium’s Tim Brys and Niels Van Zandweghe will be lining up again in Brandenburg after winning bronze in Varese. Watch out too for the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark who were all finalists at World Rowing Cup I. These crews have yet to qualify for the Olympic Games and will be aiming to show off their potential to any likely contenders.
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)
The reigning World and European Champions, Switzerland is lining up in Brandenburg. And this crew is off to a good start already this season. They won gold at the World Rowing Cup in Varese, Italy.
Denmark, the 2015 world silver medallists and also the World Champions from 2013 and 2014, will be racing in Brandenburg in the open weight men’s four so will not challenge Switzerland. Instead it will be up to the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic to push Switzerland. These three nations were all finalists in Varese. Germany has yet to qualify for Rio 2016 and in the lead-up to the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta they are building up valuable racing experience.
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
Three of the crews entered have qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games through last year’s World Rowing Championships: Germany who won silver, the Netherlands who won bronze and Poland who finished fourth.
At World Rowing Cup I, Poland and the Netherlands won gold and silver respectively, with Ukraine taking bronze and Great Britain finishing in fourth position. These crews will challenge each other again in Brandenburg. Ukraine and Great Britain have yet to qualify for Rio and they must be using the European Championships as part of their preparation for the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta later this month.
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)
Germany is the reigning Olympic and World Champions in this boat class and in Brandenburg they will show up with one change to the line-up that won gold last year in Aiguebelette at the World Championships; Tim Grohmann will replace Hans Gruhne in stroke. This is the crew's first international race of the season.
Look out for Russia. They have yet to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games but they look on track as they won gold at World Rowing Cup I in Varese. Poland, who qualified for Rio thanks to a seventh-place finish at the Worlds last year, took bronze in Varese and will aim just as high in Brandenburg.
Estonia’s 2015 world bronze medallists will also race at the European Rowing Championships after a fourth-place finish in Varese. And Great Britain will line up with one change to the crew that finished fourth at the 2015 World Rowing Championships: Angus Groom comes into the boat instead of Charles Cousins.
Women’s Eight (W8+)
Of the women’s eight crews that qualified for Rio in Aiguebelette, two will be racing at the European Rowing Championships: Great Britain and Russia. Look out as well for the Netherlands who have yet to qualify, but finished ahead of Russia at World Rowing Cup I in Varese. Germany will also send a boat, after finishing fourth in Varese.
Men’s Eight (M8+)
Five men’s eights qualified at last year's World Rowing Championships for the 2016 Olympic Games. In Brandenburg, four of them will line up. This included the World gold and silver medallists - Great Britain and Germany. Thus the Germany-British men's eight rivalry will resume for 2016 on Brandenburg's regatta course.
Getting in on the action will be the Netherlands who won bronze last year and Russia who finished fifth. The Netherlands also took gold last month at World Rowing Cup I and this must have earned them confidence on their path to Brandenburg.
In addition to these crews, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland and Ukraine will also be lining up. It is likely that these crews are all hoping to take one of the two remaining qualification spots later this month at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May.