Going by the statistics it looks like it’s France for the men and New Zealand for the women. But who knows what has gone on since these rowers last raced in July at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. We don’t want to jump to conclusions so you decide for yourself. Who will be walking away with those gold medals?

 LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN’S DOUBLE SCULLS

The 2017 Season

  • Poland raced at all three stages of the World Rowing Cup season as well as at the European Rowing Championships and did not miss a single podium. Weronika Deresz and Martyna Mikolajczak won the European Rowing Championships and took gold at World Rowing Cup I, as well as two World Rowing Cup silver medals.
  • Fastest Final & Closest Finish: At World Rowing Cup II, China won gold in 6:50.93. This was also the closest finish in any final for the lightweight women’s double sculls in 2017. A time difference of 1.70 seconds separated China in first from Poland in second - WATCH HERE
  • Two British crews raced at World Rowing Cup I and both medalled, one in silver and one in bronze. One athlete from each of those two boats was selected to create the combination of Katherine Copeland and Emily Craig who went on to win bronze at the European Rowing Championships - WATCH HERE. Katherine Copeland is the 2012 Olympic Champion in this boat class.
  • The Dutch lightweight sculler, Olympic Champion and World Best Time holder Ilse Paulis, joined forces with up-and-coming rowing star Marieke Keijser, aged 20, and raced just once this season at the European Rowing Championships. The newly formed duo won silver – WATCH HERE.
  • At World Rowing Cup III, New Zealand’s new line-up raced for the first time in 2017. Two-time senior World Champion and World Best Time holder in the lightweight women’s single sculls Zoe McBride raced with Jackie Kiddle. Together they registered the biggest winning margin this season, 4.64 seconds – WATCH HERE.

Zoe Mcbride (b), Jackie Kiddle (s), New Zealand, gold, Weronika Deresz (b), Martyna Mikolajczak (s), Poland, silver, Lightweight Women's Double Sculls, 2017 World Rowing Cup III, Lucerne, Switzerland © Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com


Predictions

Although they have raced only once this season together, New Zealand did so in a show of strength at World Rowing Cup III. Demolishing the rest of the field on the Rotsee, the Kiwis finished three lengths ahead of Poland, their nearest competitors. It seems that only a huge effort or sudden jump in performance from New Zealand’s rivals or a major mishap from the Kiwi crew would have the ability to jeopardise their upcoming World Championship title bid.

Poland is expected to pursue its medalling ways, while China could also realistically line up a combination of medal-winning standard.

Historical Facts

  • 2016 Olympic Champions: The Netherlands (Ilse Paulis, Maaike Head)
  • World Best Time: 06:47.69 set by The Netherlands in 2016.
  • Most Olympic wins: since the boat class joined the Olympics in 1996, Romania has won three Olympic golds. The Netherlands follow in second position with three medals overall – two golds and one bronze.
  • Most World Championship wins: Germany* (six gold medals of a possible 26 since 1985).

LIGHTWEIGHT MEN’S DOUBLE SCULLS

The 2017 Season

  • France’s Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou went undefeated in 2016 and the winning streak of duo seems to be on a roll. The Houin-Azou combination raced at three regattas this season, at two stages of the World Rowing Cup and at the European Rowing Championships - they did not lose.
  • Ireland raced at all three stages of the 2017 World Rowing Cup season, medalling twice with one silver and one bronze. They also won silver at the European Rowing Championships. O’Donovan brothers Paul and Gary are last year’s Olympic silver medallists. Then Paul prolonged the 2016 season to win gold a few weeks later in the lightweight men’s single sculls at the World Rowing Championships.
  • Pietro Ruta and Stefano Oppo from Italy finished fourth at the 2016 Olympic Games in the lightweight men’s four. In 2017 Ruta and Oppo won silver at World Rowing Cup III ahead of Ireland, while at this year’s European Rowing Championships they finished in bronze medal position.
  • Poland’s Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski won two bronze medals this season – at World Rowing Cup I and at World Rowing Cup III.
  • Closest Finish: The closest finish in a final this season so far was recorded at World Rowing Cup I. The Czech Republic finished 0.60 of a second behind Great Britain – WATCH HERE
  • Fastest Final: Houin and Azou crossed the line in 6:12.40 at World Rowing Cup II – WATCH HERE

Pierre Houin (b), Jeremie Azou (s), France, gold, Stefano Oppo (b), Pietro Ruta (s), Italy, silver, Gary O'Donovan (b), Paul O'Donovan (s), Ireland, bronze, Lightweight Men's Double Sculls, 2017 World Rowing Cup III, Lucerne, Switzerland © FISA Igor Meijer

 

Predictions

France is expected to head the field in Sarasota-Bradenton. They should beware of Ireland who, with their experience, will aim to put up the strongest challenge possible – especially in the closing sprint. The consistent results of Poland and Italy also place them on the list of possible medal contenders.

Historical Facts

  • The lightweight men’s double sculls has been part of the Olympic programme since 1996.
  • Poland tops the all-time Olympic medals table with two Olympic gold medals.
  • Most World Championship wins: Italy (12 golds out of a possible 33 since 1978)
  • 2016 Olympic Champions: France (Jeremie Azou & Pierre Houin)
  • World Best Time: 06:05.36 set by South Africa’s John Smith and James Thompson at the 2014 World Rowing Championships.

*For simplicity, these numbers include the results of both the former East Germany (GDR) and West Germany (FRG) as well as those of the current unified state of Germany (GER).