Women’s single final an open book

Just when the rowing world thought every women’s single sculls final was going to look the same, the 2010 World Championships came and the status quo was truly shaken up. At last year’s championships the pocket dynamite, Frida Svensson of Sweden beat the seemingly unstoppable Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus to the line. That was just the start.

_O4N2049At the Lucerne World Rowing Cup in July, Karsten ended up out of the medals, in fourth. It was the first time Karsten, 39, had not made the podium in the single in over a decade. This time it was New Zealand’s 24-year-old Emma Twigg that got the gold medal with China’s Xiuyun Zhang in second.

Zhang has returned to elite rowing after announcing her retirement in 2009 and she has hit her stride this year in rapid style. Zhang, 35, turned to coaching young rowers on her retirement after 20 years of rowing and it was her students, watching Zhang row, who encouraged Zhang to give the top level another go.

Third place in Lucerne went to Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic. Knapkova, 30, has sat steadfastly behind Karsten ever since she joined the elite singles event 10 years ago. Knapkova has never won gold at the Rowing World Cup or the World Rowing Championships, but she has picked up plenty of medals in other colours.

Karsten will meet Twigg, Zhang and Knapkova again on Sunday, 4 September at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Svensson, who finished fifth at Lucerne, has had mixed results since her World Champion title. She has yet to make it to the podium this season, but, speaking today Svensson made it clear that she was after a medal in the final.

Newcomer to the final of the women’s single, Annekatrin Thiele of Germany has been racing in team boats since 2004 and has an Olympic silver from the double. She is currently Germany’s top single sculler and, after German team trials, Thiele chose to be in the single this year. Now she has set her sights on remaining in the single for the London Olympic Games. “I have a personal motivation to see where I can go in the single,” said Thiele who medalled at the first two Rowing World Cups this season.

Thiele, Twigg, Zhang, Knapkova, Karsten and Svensson will line up for the final of the women’s single sculls at 13:20 (CET) on Sunday 4 September. This will be the very last race of the 2011 World Rowing Championships.

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