In cross head-wind conditions Croatia’s men’s quad set themselves up for a great final as did New Zealand’s men’s pair, with the men’s single going to be all about Ondrej Synek (CZE) and Mahe Drysdale (NZL).

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Semifinals
Is this going to be the year of Croatia? Finishing Semifinal One at the head of the field and qualifying with the fastest time, Croatia may be heading towards their first ever gold medal in rowing. But at the start of the race it was 2004 Olympic Champions, Russia in the lead. This boat contains two of the 2004 crew; Alexey Svirin and Sergey Fedorovtsev and along with Vladislav Ryabtsev and Nikita Morgachev they remained in the lead through the middle of the race.

Croatia’s David Sain (b), Martin Sinkovic, Damir Martin and Valent Sinkovic (s) of Croatia race in the men’s quadruple sculls semifinal A/B at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

Croatia’s David Sain, Damir Martin and Valent and Martin Sinkovic followed in second and were in a very good position to attack. And they did. A big piece going through the 1200m mark got Croatia up with the Russians and then into the lead. Russia had no more to give. Australia and Great Britain, meanwhile, were holding their own stroke-for-stroke battle. Australia are the reigning World Champions, while Great Britain finished seventh at last year’s World Rowing Championships.

Russia had gone out too hard. As the Russian’s limped through the last 500m Croatia looked dominating in the lead, Australia and Great Britain continued to battle. Coming to the line Croatia had taken a convincing win, Australia had come through to second and Great Britain become the first men’s quad ever to make an Olympic final.

Last year at the World Rowing Championships Germany (Karl Schulze, Philipp Wende, Lauritz Schoof and Tim Grohmann) were unlucky not to take gold when a crab stopped their boat just a couple of metres before the line. Since then they have had a positive build-up towards London and today they led Semifinal Two at the start.

Holding on tightly to the Germans was Estonia. The Estonians missed out on qualifying for the Olympics at last year’s World Rowing Championships and they adjusted their crew to qualify earlier this year. The crew of Jamas, Raja, Endrekson and Taimsoo remained overlapping and in contention to overtake the Germans.

As the final 500m came into view France poured the power on and tried to close the gap on the leaders. Olympic Champions, Poland were also moving. Poland, after going on a winning streak from 2005 until 2009, have not been so successful in the last couple of years and they are no longer the favoured crew. But Germany and Estonia had enough of a lead not to be impacted by France and Poland.
Germany crossed the line comfortably in first, Estonia in second and a very relieved Poland crossed the line in third.
Finalists: CRO, AUS, GBR, GER, EST, POL

Kaspar Taimsoo (EST) – M4x – Semifinal
The race went pretty well. We had a really good start which was quite a surprise for me. We had a really good pace and we managed to keep a good rhythm throughout the race, particularly in the third 500 (metres), which is normally our hardest. So, in the finish, we were really happy. We are going to do the best recovery we can. We are going to keep our thoughts on the next race. It was a really good race we had here today, and I think the emotions were electifying. That will give us a good start. We sure have to do our best race and keep our rhythm. If we manage to keep our heads clear, you can't think about a medal. If we do that, we are pretty good candidates for the gold medal, I think.

Damir Martin (CRO) – M4x – Semifinal
We are proud of how we rowed the race. We focused on ourselves and didn't give the Russians a chance to demotivate us. We made strong strokes, I believe 35 (strokes a minute). We are very satisfied. The final is open for everyone. We hope to get a chance, we are ready for it and hopefully it will be our best race.

Adrien Hardy (FRA) – M4x – Semifinal
"The training was the right one. We rowed a great race. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work and if we are not good enough, we are not good enough".

Steve Rowbotham (GBR) – M4x – Semifinal
"We really pushed the first 500m, the middle 1000 was more technical. Mentally, every time I made a call, we moved. That felt very good. I wasn't surprised with the Russians. They tend to do that. Myself and Matt (Matthew LANGRIDGE, GBR) won bronze (in the men's double sculls) in Beijing. Great Britain have never had a quad in the final since forever, I think. It's very pleasing."

Valent Sinkovic (CRO) – M4x – Semifinal
"We planned to stick with our race plan. We knew the Russians would be very fast but we'd be strong in the final 500 (metres) so we are very happy. We're going to go hard, but it's important for us to get our rhythm right first before going fast."

Men’s Pair (M2-) – Semifinals

When you draw a race with New Zealand’s Hamish Bond and Eric Murray in it, you know you are racing for second. But 2008 Olympic silver medallists, David Calder and Scott Frandsen of Canada have made it clear that they are going to give it their best to get in front of the New Zealanders. At the Beijing Olympics Bond and Murray raced to seventh in the men’s four. Very

Niccolo Mornati (b) and Lorenzo Carboncini (s) of Italy race in the men’s pair semifinal A/B at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

disappointed with this result, Bond and Murray have used this as motivation over the last three years.

Bond and Murray got out in front at the start of Semifinal One, with Calder and Frandsen chasing hard. But coming through the middle of the race Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini of Italy had moved ahead of Canada. Olympic medallist Mornati finished third last year at the World Rowing Championships with Carboncini and they have the Olympic credentials to do well.

Canada and Italy then carried out a battle for second with New Zealand now having an open-water lead. Rating 37 through the body of the race, Bond and Murray felt comfortable enough to take their stoke rate to a 35 in these head-wind conditions.

As the final sprint began Canada took their stroke rate to 41 with the threat of the United States now looming. The US had left their sprint too late. At the line Italy and Canada had held on to their qualifying positions. New Zealand’s finishing time of 6:48 was 40 seconds off their World Best Time, indicating the slower conditions here today at Dorney Lake.  

Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette of France leapt out at the start of Semifinal Two looking like they were going for the strategy of leading for the entire race. But the margins between the entire field was close with Great Britain’s George Nash and William Satch leaping into the lead, much to the delight of the crowd. Chardin and Mortelette held on tightly as Poland and Australia battled it out for the remaining qualifying spot.

Nash and Satch must have loved hearing the crowd as this young duo then moved clean away from France. Chardin and Mortelette then found James Marburg and Brodie Buckland of Australia bearing down on them. France held them off.

Great Britain, France and Australia earn qualifying spots.
Finalists: NZL, ITA, CAN, GBR, FRA, AUS

Dave Calder (CAN) – M2 – Semifinal
"We got the job done. We're in the final. It wasn't necessarily our best performance, but we certainly couldn't be racing for a medal if we didn't come in the top three today. So, we're through and now we have to focus on what it takes for us to get into the medals. Scott and I have an incredible rhythm. With the weight of the headwind slowing the race down a bit, we don't feel like we hit that invincible rhythm, but it was good enough to get us through. We saw Italy take a good swat at us, but when Scott and I are on, you'll see a difference in the way the boat runs and the way it looks in the water. As we say, we are nowhere near the panic button."

Scott Frandsen (CAN) – M2- Semifinal
"Today wasn't our best effort. This is our first Olympics, and although that might knock our confidence, we know we can switch it around in the next 48 hours and get back to our rhythm and our ease. We have full confidence we can do it."

George Nash (GBR) – M2- – Semifinal
We knew it was going to be a long race, so we went out loose and kept strong through the middle.

William Satch (GBR) – M2- Semifinal
"The audience here is incredible. The messages on social media are incredible too. We just want to do Britain proud".

Germain Chardin (FRA) – M2- -Semifinal
"Experience helps. I am not sure if it is just down to the last four years of experience but it helps. The fact that we already have a medal from four years ago makes us want to win another. It's small things that make that we get better."

Hamish Bond (NZL) – M2- Semifinal
"We always go out to lead from the front, that's no secret. We've never been beaten so I guess you could say that our capabilities are as yet untapped."

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals

Semifinal One was tough! The Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte (NOR) was there, so was the World Champion, Mahe Drysdale (NZL) and Olympic medallist from 2000, Marcel Hacker (GER). There was also Sweden’s regular A-finallist Lassi Karonen.

Karonen has had mixed results since racing at the 2008 Olympics, but he has spent the last Olympic quadrennial  putting it all together for these Olympic Games. Today Karonen jumped out to control of the race at the start with only Drysdale able to match his awesome opening power.

As the scullers settled into the body of the race, Drysdale held on to Karonen, with the under-performing Tufte at the back of the field. After a rather sluggish start, Hacker had settled into his rhythm and pushed into third. Then coming through the third 500, Drysdale clearly did a push, rating 35, and by the 1450m point he had got his nose ahead of Karonen.

Lassi Karonen of Sweden finishes second after New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale in the semifinal A/B of the men’s single sculls at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

The race, however, was not over and Karonen refused to let Drysdale go, pressing the World Champion with strong strokes. Where was Tufte? Coming into the last 300m with Drysdale still in the lead both him and Karonen looked to be content in their positions and slightly backed off. Hacker kept the pressure on and kept his boat comfortably in third. Drysdale, Karonen and Hacker are in the final.

There is no doubting Alan Campbell of Great Britain fast starts and he showed it today in Semifinal Two with a flier that took him into the lead and took more than half a boat length out of his competition. Campbell  has a lot riding on these Olympics. He failed to fire in Beijing due to an injury and he is hoping to put it all right in London.

Following Campbell was the 2010 World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Synek is a favourite not only to medal here in London but also a potential gold medallist and he is known to be a cunning racer. As Campbell continued to lead Synek stuck with the Brit from second with Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan following in third.

Then, in similar fashion to Drysdale in semifinal one, Synek used the third 500 to make his move. Taking the stroke rate to 34, Synek was taking out Campbell with every stroke. By the final 500m Synek had the lead and he continued to move. There seemed to be nothing that Campbell could do. At the line Synek, Campbell and Aleksandrov had places in the London Olympic final

This is quite a feat for Aleksandrov. Aleksandrov, 22, started his career with Bulgaria becoming the junior champion in the single in 2007. He then moved to Azerbaijan and had been working his way up through the men’s singles ranks. This is his best result to date.
Finalists: NZL, SWE, GER, CZE, GBR, AZE

Lassi Karonen (SWE) – M1x – Semifinal
It was the toughest so far. I felt good in the middle half, I could glide through my stroke. I think it could be even, but I'm aiming for a top-three place, I think I could do that. The Olympic Games is the big thing this year. We've been trying to focus everything on the Games. I had a slow start (in the season) but it's working now.

Olaf Tufte (NOR) – M1x – Semifinal
"This is not my Games, no. I had such a good day. I was so prepared. I was in it. And then I lost it in the first 100 metres."

Alan Campbell (GBR) – M1x – Semifinal
"I was happy with the semifinal draw. There was no need to hurt myself in this race. I had to save myself for the final race. It was just a case of doing what had to be done and in the final I will have one of the four middle lanes. I am in such a better place than four years ago."