The Dutch dominated their semifinal yesterday and they looked to be the favourites for today. Next to them, however, was China who won the other semi. Peibing Zhang of China had won this race last year and she was joined by a new partner this year, Hairong Zhang. Greece took off at 48 strokes per minute and had the best speed. Then Germany’s Jette Prehm and Judith Guhse took over in the lead. China was underrating the field at 35 but now had the best speed and got to the 500m mark in the lead. Lisa Bruijnincx and Jacobien van Westreenen of the Netherlands looked smooth, together and gaining on China. Germany and Lithuania now held a battle for the third position.

In the third 500 the Dutch seemed to be gaining on Zhang and Zhang with every stroke. The Dutch had pulled level with China who were at 31 and did not react. Meanwhile Lithuania had gone to 40 and had overtaken Germany and were closing on China. China was at 32 with the Dutch at 34. The Netherlands had one.


Jacobien Van Westreenen (s), Netherlands, Gold
“We stuck to the plan, trusted the process, hoped it would be ok, and it all was! It feels very special to win here in Tokyo, the conditions were great.” 

Peibing Zhang (s), People’s Republic of China, Silver
“The race was great, we gave it our best.”

Ugne Juzenaite (b), Lithuania, Bronze
“We had no expectation for this race. We wanted to do our best. It was so hot out there but the conditions were pretty good. We were 4th the 1st thousand, but we knew our strength is in the 2nd thousand. The wind was also in our favour.”

Re-watch the race here!


The British and Italians had almost identical times in the semifinals and they sat next to each other today. Italy was the leading crew at the start. Then Belgium did a big push and got into the lead. The Italians held on with the United States now taking chase. Italy and Belgium remained as the two leading crews as the final sprint came into view. Then Italy put their foot down and got away to an open water lead. What a finish!


Re-watch the race here!