Who to watch at the final 2016 World Rowing Cup - Poznan
World Rowing Cup III in Poznan, Poland is the final in more ways than one. It is the final of the 2016 World Rowing Cup series and it is also the final international regatta before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This means the field is chock-full of rowers already selected to race in Rio.
Will Mahe Drysdale finish ahead of Ondrej Synek in the men's single sculls. What will happen when Emma Twigg and Kim Brennan meet for the first time in over a year in the women's single sculls? Will the British men's eight find their way back onto the medals podium? It will all be happening beginning this Thursday 16 June on the waters of Malta Lake.
Women’s Pair (W2-)
Great Britain's Helen Glover and Heather Stanning have remained unbeatable ever since becoming Olympic Champions in front of their home crowd at the London Olympics. Glover and Stanning seem to be well on their way of winning a second Olympic title. Due to illness they did not compete in the final in Lucerne but will now be back in Poznan.
At this final World Rowing Cup of the season, the British boat will be up against New Zealanders Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown who won silver in Lucerne. New Zealand took world bronze in 2013 and 2014 and then silver in 2015. Scown was part of the boat in 2013 and 2014.
Other crews to look out for include Germany’s Kerstin Hartmann and Kathrin Marchand, who took European silver this year, as well as Denmark’s Hedvig Rasmussen and Anne Andersen who finished fifth in Lucerne.
Men’s Pair (M2-)
The Kiwi duo of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond has been unbeaten since 2009 and they seem well on their way to claim a second Olympic title. They have often left the rest of the field to race for silver. At World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, however, the margin at the finish seemed to close up. Is the New Zealand dominance shrinking?
In Poznan, Murray and Bond will face one of the crews that came close to them in Lucerne, Great Britain's Matthew Tarrant and Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell who took gold at World Rowing Cup I and bronze at World Rowing Cup II. Tarrant and Reilly-O'Donnell, however, may not be looking out for the Kiwis. The British duo will be racing against their fellow-countrymen Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes who missed Lucerne due to illness. This British two-boat entry looks to be a race-off to choose the Rio Olympic boat.
Watch out too for the newly crowned European Champions, Bela Simon and Adrian Juhasz of Hungary. They have been inconsistent in their racing, but know how to pull out a big result when needed. The Australians Spencer Turrin and Alexander Lloyd are also expected to be up for a challenge.
Women's Double Sculls (W2x)
Silver medallists from World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, Sally Kehoe and Genevieve Horton of Australia look to be the ones to beat in the absence of the Cup winners, Lithuania. The boat class, however, has proved to be difficult to predict so far this season. The European Champions, Yuliya Bichyk and Tatsiuana Kukhta of Belarus are back racing after average results in Lucerne and must be in contention. As must be the reigning World Champions, Eve MacFarlane and Zoe Stevenson of New Zealand. They finished sixth in Lucerne but with more time to settle in Europe, their results are likely to improve. Germany has tweaked their line up that finished fourth in Lucerne. Marie-Catherine Arnold is now joining Mareike Adams. All eyes will be on how this new combination fares.
Also vying for the medals will be Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj of Poland. They won at World Rowing Cup I in April and this is their first international race since. In front of their home crowd Fularczyk and Madaj will be a force of strength. Then there's Lenka Antosova and Kristyna Fleissnerova of the Czech Republic. They were the European bronze medallists and also won the recent Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.
A late British entry of Katherine Grainger and Victoria Thornley makes the women's double one of the highlighted races of the regatta. Olympic Champion Grainger and new partner Thornley have struggled to find the form they are after, but hope to be ready in time for Rio.
Men's Double Sculls (M2x)
There is no doubt that the unbeaten Sinkovic brothers will be going after another win in Poznan. But Martin and Valent Sinkovic of Croatia were challenged heavily at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne by the New Zealand duo of Christopher Harris and Robert Manson. These two crews will meet again with the addition of the new 2016 Norwegian combination of Olaf Tufte and Kjetil Borch.
Tufte and Borch qualified for the Rio Olympics at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May and they seem to be growing in confidence every time they race. Keep an eye out too for Germany. Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger finishing with silver at the European Rowing Championships and then too fourth at World Rowing Cup II.
Men's Four (M4-)
An epic battle went on between the London Olympic gold and silver medallists (Great Britain and Australia respectively) at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne. Australia was leading but a crab caught them just before the line giving Great Britain gold. These two crews will meet again in Poznan and there is every indication that the battle will continue to be intense especially now that Constantine Louloudis is back to full strength and back in the British boat. These two crews, however, will need to not just focus on each other. The 2015 World Champions, Italy are back. Castaldo, Di Costanzo, Lodo and Vicino finished second at World Rowing Cup I and this will be their final splash-out before the Rio Olympics.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
Two-time World Champion Kim Brennan of Australia took gold at her first international regatta this season, World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne. She finished ahead of Genevra Stone from the United States and the Czech Republic’s Mirka Knapkova, the reigning Olympic Champion. Brennan will be lining up again in Poznan.
The Aussie single sculler will be racing for the first time in nearly two years against New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, the 2014 World Champion. Twigg took time out from rowing in 2015 to complete a master’s course in sports management. She successfully qualified her boat for Rio at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May to prove she is back at full form and then won at the Holland Beker Regatta in early June.
Look out too for Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, the multi Olympic and World Champion in the women’s single sculls. She won silver at World Rowing Cup I and finished fourth at the European Rowing Championships. Sanita Puspure of Ireland has been a last minute withdrawal and this may open the door for Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig. Lobnig is this year’s European Champion and after missing the podium in Lucerne will be aiming to push through the ranks.
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
The reigning Olympic Champion and multi World Champion Mahe Drysdale took gold at his first regatta of this season, in Lucerne then gold again at the Holland Beker Regatta in the Netherlands. He did so both times ahead of World Champion Ondrej Synek from Czech Republic. They will meet again in Poznan.
Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez, now a two-time world medallist, is also likely to be in the medal mix. But don't discount Croatia’s Damir Martin. Martin did not race at World Rowing Cup II due to illness, but at World Rowing Cup I and at the European Rowing Championships he won gold. He has the potential of pushing into the top ranks at World Rowing Cup III.
Look out too for Great Britain’s Alan Campbell. Campbell won Olympic bronze in London, but has not yet made a World Championship podium in this Olympic cycle. In Lucerne, he finished fifth.
Lightweight Women's Double Sculls (LW2x)
So far this season there is no clear front-runner for the winning stakes. Last month at World Rowing Cup II, Canada and South Africa led the way while World Champions, Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie of New Zealand finished in third. The Canadians and South Africa will miss Poznan giving New Zealand the potential to step up. They will need to watch out for Maaike Head and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands. This duo are the reigning European Champions and recently won the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.
The world silver medallists Katherine Copeland and Charlotte Taylor of Great Britain return to international racing after an average finish at the European Rowing Championships. Copeland is the reigning Olympic Champion in this boat class and this will be her last chance to prove speed before Rio. Keep and eye out too for Denmark and Ireland. Both crews have the potential to medal.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
Many of the top Rio-bound lightweight men’s double scull crews will be racing in Poznan. Not least the French, who are the 2015 World Champions and won gold in Lucerne, their first international regatta this season. But there is a change in the boat compared to last year – Pierre Houin has replaced Stany Delayre and joined Jeremie Azou.
Last year’s world silver medallists, Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers of Great Britain lined up in Lucerne and finished fifth. No doubt they will be aiming to make their way back into the medals in Poznan.
The Irish have impressed so far this season. After finishing eleventh last year at the World Rowing Championships, brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan took silver at World Rowing Cup I, then gold at the European Rowing Championships. In Lucerne, they finished fourth and in Poznan will be looking to resume their medalling style.
Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway are always near the top. They are the 2013 World Champions and this season they have medalled twice, with bronze at the Europeans and silver at World Rowing Cup II.
Lightweight Men's Four (LM4-)
New Zealand stormed onto the international race scene at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne and came first against the World and European Champions, Switzerland. These two crews will face each other again in Poznan. For New Zealand they have brought Peter Taylor back into the boat after her had to sit out at Lucerne due to injury. Switzerland has maintained their 2015 line up.
Also still very much in the picture is Denmark. This is the priority boat for Denmark and nothing short of gold will satisfy them. The bronze medal they won at World Rowing Cup II was less than their expectations. Keep an eye out too for France. The crew took bronze at the 2015 World Rowing Championships and finished fourth at World Rowing Cup II in May.
Women's Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
Poland look to be the crew to beat as they race on their home waters with a strong 2016 record already behind them. The Poles have won both World Rowing Cups their only defeat has been at the European Rowing Championships when they finished second to the reigning World Champions, Germany. For Poznan, Germany has swapped Julia Lier into the boat to make a stronger line up and they will have only gold medals on their mind.
The Netherlands will be aiming for a podium finish. The Dutch were third at World Rowing Cup II in May and second at World Rowing Cup I in April.
Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x)
At World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne this boat class turned into a battle between Australia and Great Britain. At last year's World Rowing Championships Australia took silver and Great Britain came fourth. In Lucerne, Australia pipped the British on the line to earn gold. Switzerland, with a replacement in the boat, were third. The 2015 Swiss line up is back together and they will likely to again be chasing the medals.
Watch out too for the reigning European Champions, Estonia. They missed Lucerne but are back for Poznan and will be after the top of the podium.
Women’s Eight (W8+)
Four crews will line up in the women’s eight at World Rowing Cup III in Poznan. Three of them are Rio-bound. Top crews to look out for include Great Britain, who won silver at World Rowing Cup II, closely challenging the American crew that has remained unbeaten in the past ten years. The British boat also claimed the European title earlier this season ahead of the Netherlands.
The Dutch have two medals so far this season, winning World Rowing Cup I and then taking European silver. After skipping World Cup II they are back and will be measuring themselves against Great Britain once again. For the first time this season they will race the New Zealanders. The Kiwis raced at their first international regatta this year at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne and won bronze behind the United States and Great Britain, beating 2015 world bronze medallists Canada.
Men’s Eight (M8+)
Poznan will see five crews racing in the men’s eight, four of which are Rio-bound. The fifth crew is from Belarus. Great Britain has won the world title at each World Rowing Championships in this Olympic cycle. So far this season they have taken the European Championship title, but then missed the podium at World Rowing Cup II, finishing fourth behind the Netherlands, Germany and the United States.
Germany are the reigning Olympic Champions and, although they have not managed to beat the British to the World Championship title since 2012, they have not missed a single World Championship podium in the past three years. At World Rowing Cup II in May they took silver.
Keep and eye out for Poland who will seek to impress their home crowd. Their best result this season was a bronze medal at World Rowing Cup I.