Rio 2016 will be the first time a South American country has hosted the Olympic Games and the choice of Rio de Janeiro sees the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon being used as the rowing regatta venue. In the heart of Rio, the lagoon creates a picture of quintessential Rio including palm trees, high rise apartment buildings and the cone-shaped hills to create an unforgettable backdrop.  

Rowing at the 2016 Olympics will begin on 6 August, the day after the opening ceremony, and continue for the first week of the Games. The main qualification regatta for the Olympics is this year’s World Rowing Championships which will take place at the end of this month in Aiguebelette, France. There will also be continental qualification regattas and a final qualification regatta in May 2016.

These World Rowing Junior Championships double as a test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and occur in the middle of a week of Olympic-styled entertainment. Today, junior racing included heats for the men’s single sculls.

Men’s Single Sculls (JM1x) – Heats

A full field of 25 nations had entered this boat class making it the biggest of the regatta and the only boat class having to compete through the extra round of racing – quarterfinals. For these scullers a top four place would get them into the quarterfinals set to be raced tomorrow. Giacomo Gentili of Italy was the first to stir up the waters of the Lagoa Regatta Stadium in the heart of Rio. Gentili finished Heat One in the lead followed by Adrian Lindgren of Norway, then Peru and Tunisia in the remaining two qualifying spots. Brazil’s Igor Cunha has a great sprint to the line but will have to race in the repechage. Cunha caused the crowd to gasp as he fell in the water after the finish line.

Germany’s Henrik Runge was the leading boat in Heat Two. Runge is a gold medallist from racing in the men’s quadruple sculls at last year’s World Rowing Junior Championships. Behind Runge Armandas Kelmelis of Lithuania also qualified. In a field dominated by 18-year-olds, Kelmelis is one of the younger ones at 17 years old. Ukraine and Sweden also qualified. Runge recorded a time of 7:18 which gave him the fastest qualifying time.

Heat Three had Mexico’s Alexis Lopez Garcia leading from start to finish. Lopez raced last year in the men’s double sculls at the junior championships and now in the single he finished in a solid time of 7:21. Following Lopez and into the quarterfinals were Tim Mahne of Slovenia then Turkey and Uruguay.

United States sculler, Andrew Morley decided to stake his dominance as he leapt out into the lead of Heat Four. Morley held the lead through the middle of the race and it looked like no one was willing to challenge his lead. Hungary’s Tamas Szegedi slotted into second with Croatia and Zimbabwe in the remaining qualifying spots.  In the final heat, Heat Five New Zealand’s Benjamin Watkinson-Boyle had the fastest start but with Australia and Belgium right on his tail. Australia’s Adam Bakker then did a push that earned his a handy advantage. Watkinson-Boyle did not seem to have an answer and now had to contend with Ruben Claeys of Belgium. In the close of the race Bakker did not need to sprint. Bakker had qualified along with Belgium, the Czech Republic and New Zealand.