Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Quarterfinals

Quarterfinal One featured reigning World Champion, Marcello Miani of Italy. Miani also owns the World Best Time and he must be a favourite especially after his convincing win in the heat a couple of days ago. But it was China’s Yajun Li that got away the quickest before Miani took over in front. Going through the middle of the race margins were tight with New Zealand’s Adam Ling, Yajun and Tim Brys of Belgium all within a second of each other. Ling and Miani then went stroke for stroke through the final 500m. To the cheers of “Kiwi”, Ling, rating 35, crossed the line just a fraction ahead of Miani.

Germany’s Konstantin Steinheubel is getting a reputation for fast starts and he did exactly that in Quarterfinal Two today. But then Rajko Hrvat of Slovenia pushed into the lead and remained there for the rest of the race. Hrvat recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats and his season so far has been very positive. Behind Hrvat the race turned into a bit of a procession with nice gaps between the top three rowers with Peru’s Rnezo Leon Garcia coming through to qualify from third.

Quarterfinal Three had Milos Stanojevic of Serbia out in front at the start. Once in the lead Stanojevic, holding a steady 34 stroke rate pace, moved out in front with the biggest challenge coming from a tight battle between Hungary’s Gabor Csepregi and Spyridon Giannaros of Greece. Then coming to the line Jerzy Kowlaski pulled out a flyer to get into third and deny Giannaros of a spot in the semifinals. Stanojevic had recorded the fastest qualifying time, but it was just by a fraction of a second with all winning boats within a second of each other.

The final quarterfinal was incredibly tight. Great Britain’s Jamie Kirkwood led the way with a virtual line forming behind him between the rest of the field. Then Nicholas Trojan of the United States managed to break away and go after Kirkwood. Kirkwood was very disappointed not to be part of his country’s Olympic boat, the lightweight four, but he was making the best of it in the single and held a very high 36 stroke rate coming through the third 500m. In the finals sprint Trojan really wound it up, but Kirkwood wound further, going to 41 to stay ahead of the American.


Men’s Pair (M2-) – Quarterfinals

Getting the racing going in Quarterfinal One were the phenomenal New Zealanders. Hamish Bond and Eric Murray of New Zealand are on an unbroken 57-race winning streak. They have gone undefeated for seven years and this season indicated already that they were still at the top of their game. Bond and Murray don’t always have the fastest start, and it was Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman of the Netherlands who got away first. Then the New Zealanders pushed ahead and worked their way to an open water lead. Cruising home at an easy 32 stroke rate pace, Bond and Murray were able to watch the storm going on behind them. Braas and Steenman, rating 37, remained in second while the United States (Michael Di Santos and Dariush Aghai) were rating 43 and giving it their all to overtake Germany. At the line Di Santos and Agahai kept their Olympic qualification hopes alive while Germany had missed out on that opportunity by less than a second. Despite their rather low rating, New Zealand recorded the fastest qualifying time.

Serbia’s Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik of Serbia have scored a couple of medals already this season and they led the way in Quarterfinal Two. Behind them Alexander Sigurbjonsson Benet and Pau Vela Maggi of Spain went head-to-head with Jack Hargreaves and Nicholas Wheatley of Australia. Crossing safely in first was Serbia, the under-23 medallists, Australia followed in second and Spain scored third.

Back on the game, Niccolo Mornati of Italy was showing his rowing pedigree by leading Quarterfinal Three with partner Vincenzp Capelli. Then Great Britain’s James Foad and Matt Langridge upped their stroke rate to 38 and overtook the Italians. Foad and Langridge are the European Champions and took silver at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and they were slowly pulling away from Italy. With the British and Italy in front, Canada’s Michael Evans and Martin Barakso had to up their stroke rate to 43 to hold off a charging Belarus. Belarus, rating 45, was giving it their all to stay in a qualifying spot. At the line they had missed out by less than half a second  and thus their Olympic qualification chances were over.

Russia got off to a flying start but could not hold it and started to fade in the second half of Quarterfinal Four. France’s Olympic silver medallists of Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette then took the lead with South Africa’s David Hunt and Shaun Keeling moving with them. These two boats, both rating 39, went through the third quarter together. In the final sprint Chardin and Mortelette were able to break away and, much to the crowd’s delight, finish first. Romania took advantage of a couple of wobbly strokes by Russia to grab third.


Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Quarterfinals

Quarterfinal One featured the reigning World Champions, John Smith and James Thompson from South Africa. This duo feature today on the Olympic Channel video reviewing their 2012 Olympic win in the lightweight men’s four. Smith and Thompson got away quickly and managed to keep a couple of seconds ahead of Andrew Campbell and Joshua Konieczny of the United States. The resilient Campbell is back for another go at Olympic qualification after only just missing out in getting to go to London and it looks like everything is lined up well this year. Greece (Panagiotis Magdanis and Eleftherios Konsolas) followed in third and the order did not change in the close of the race. The South Africans had set the fastest overall qualifying time.

After an initial lead by Great Britain’s William Fletcher and Richard Chambers, Italy pushed ahead. But margins were incredibly tight and Fletcher and Chambers got back out in front. Andrea Micheletti and Pietro Ruta of Italy held on and this helped keep them ahead of a battle going on between New Zealand and Ireland. A slightly better sprint by Paul and Gary O’Donovan of Ireland denied New Zealand of qualifying for the semifinal and thus missing out on Olympic qualification. There was no denying the absolute joy of Ireland.

Brun and Strandli of Norway led the way in Quarterfinal Three. The Norwegian duo are the 2013 World Champions and have been having a very consistent 2015 season. Meanwhile behind Norway, Denmark’s new line up followed closely. Then there was a virtual line between Mexico, Switzerland and Poland. This line remained coming into the final sprint with ratings hitting the low 40s. At the line it was Denmark’s Henrik Stephansen and Jens Nielsen that had missed out. Joining Norway in the semifinals was Daniel Wiederkehr and Michael Schmid of Switzerland and Artur Mikolajczewski and Milosz Jankoswski of Poland.

It was no surprise to see France’s rowing heroes and 2015 World Rowing Cup winners, Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre out in front. This left a very tight battle between Germany, Austria and Turkey. One crew would miss out. The commentator could not call it at the line. Germany’s Moritz Moos and Jason Osborne got through in second with the high rating Austria (Paul and Bernhard Sieber) managing to cross just a fraction ahead of Turkey.


Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Quarterfinals

Denmark’s Juliane Rasmussen and Anne Lolk Thomsen had the fastest qualifying time in the heats and they were gunning it today in Quarterfinal One. Taking the lead, Denmark had a small margin over Sweden’s Cecilia Lilja and Emma Fredh and Australia. Then in the second half of the race Great Britain began to pick up the pace. Charlotte Taylor and Katherine Copeland of Great Britain have come together this season with Copeland being the 2012 Olympic Champion in this boat class. They took their stroke rate up and, rating 40, pushed past Sweden, Australia and then Denmark to take the lead.

The reigning World Champions, Sophie MacKenzie and Julia Edward of New Zealand moved away in the lead position in Quarterfinal Two. China and the Netherlands followed most closely. This remained the same through the middle of the race with MacKenzie and Edward trying hard to get a lead. But China’s Cuiming Chen and Feihong Pan were not giving up and Canada’s 2012 Olympic double of Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee had now put on a burst and were taking on the Dutch. In the final sprint China, rating 38, overtook New Zealand, rating 39, with Canada, at 44, flying through to take third. At the line China had scored the fastest overall qualifying time.

Germany’s Fini Sturm and Marie-Louise Draeger got away the quickest in Quarterfinal Three. Poland and Ireland followed very closely with Romania also very much on the pace. A push by Claire Lambe and Sinead Jennings of Ireland – who won their heat a couple of days ago – put them into second. Poland’s Joanna Dorociak and Weronika Deresz did not let the Irish get away. These three boats charged towards the finish line with their fight denying any other crew of qualifying. The order remained the same to the line.

South Africa’s Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler grabbed Quarterfinal Four and would not let it go. Getting out the quickest McCann and Grobler left it to the rest of the field to chase them. This left the battle to be for second and third and taking up the challenge was the United States, Austria and Greece with Russia and France also very much in the pace. This race was going to go right through to the final sprint. Devery Karz and Michelle Sechser of the United States then managed to get their nose into second, but Alena Shatagina and Anastasiia Ianina of Russia had found another gear and, rating 40, they were taking on the United States and trying to shake off Greece. At the line Russia and the United States had done it. They will join South Africa in the semifinals.


Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Quarterfinals

Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania took on some big names in single sculling, and won. Griskonis raced at the head of the field in Quarterfinal One. Behind him was Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba and the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Champion, Olaf Tufte of Norway. Keeping a steady stroke rate in the mid 30s, Griskonis remained in front and showed the form that earned him a medal at the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Coming into the final sprint, Tufte rated 37 to be in second while Fournier, in third, looked rather tired. These were the qualifying boats. Griskonis had secured the fastest overall qualifying time.

Canada’s Pascal Lussier  had the lead at the start of Quarterfinal Two before he was overtaken by Olympic Champion, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand. Once in the lead the long, powerful strokes of Drysdale kept him in front with Israel’s Dani Fridman having the race of his career to keep with Canada and try and hold off Hannes Obreno of Belgium. Then Obreno moved into second with Israel and Canada going neck-and-neck. A 40 stroke rate sprint by Fridman denied Lussier a spot in the semifinals.

Quarterfinal Three had the World Champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic in the lead right from the start. Synek has had a rather average season, but this race made it look like everything was coming together at the right time as he led over Great Britain’s Alan Campbell and Robert Ven of Finland. Rating a quiet 27 at the finish, Synek was able to watch the sprint behind him. Campbell had moved into second with Stanislau Shcharbachenia of Belarus charging through to take on Ven. At the line Ven missed out on qualifying by less than a second.

The 20-year-old Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk of Poland had the edge in Quarterfinal Four. He was followed by Argentina and Damir Martin of Croatia. Wegrzycki-Szymczyk finished third at this year’s World Rowing Under 23 Championships while Martin comes out of the very successful World Champion Croatian men’s quadruple sculls. In the second half of the race Martin pulled ahead of Wegrzycki-Szymczyk with Sverri Nielsen of Denmark doing his best to stay in the third qualifying spot. The order did not change. Martin, Wegrzycki-Szymczyk and Nielsen will go to the semifinals.


Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Quarterfinals

Quarterfinal One had Magdalena Lobnig of Austria in the lead – but it was a very slight lead. By the middle of the race Jingli Duan of China had pulled into the lead with Lobnig now battling with Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland. Gmelin then managed to get the edge over Lobnig. Meanwhile Duan had managed to move away to a rather nice lead. The finishing order looked all but sorted. Duan, who took bronze at last year’s World Rowing Championships, finished comfortably in first.

A flying start by World Rowing Cup winner, Kim Crow of Australia in Quarterfinal Two, showed her dominating form. Crow, who was the 2014 silver medallist, then left the rest of the field behind – as she has done all season. Genevra Stone of the United States slotted into second, just a little ahead of Lina Salltyte of Lithuania. This order remained the same through to the line with Crow looking comfortable ahead of Stone rating 37 and Saltyte rating 33. The semifinalists had been decided.

Although she is the Olympic Champion, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic has been inconsistent over the last couple of years. Today, Knapkova raced in Quarterfinal Three and made no mistakes as she led the way from start to finish. Carling Zeeman of Canada – who has become well-known for her erg scores – followed in second with Germany’s Julia Richter pacing the Canadian. Sweden tried to get in on the action, but the three leaders and a slowing Richter gave Anna Malvina Svennung of Sweden the opportunity she was looking for. Svennung qualified for the semifinals at the expense of Richter.

Quarterfinal Four had Sanita Puspure of Ireland in the lead. Puspure raced at the 2012 Olympics and since then has overcome injury to come back to today’s form. Puspure still had the lead at the half way point with Denmark’s Olympic medallist, Fie Udby Erichsen following closely in second and Tatsiana Kukhta of Belarus moving with her. These three scullers came into the final sprint separated by less than a second. Micheen Thornycroft of Zimbabwe followed in fourth. Then New Zealand’s Fiona Bourke came burning down the outside. The top three boats was far from being decided. At the line the Olympic medallist, Erichsen was out, the Zimbabwean was in and Kukhta was the winner. Puspure held on to also qualify.