Olympic medal action continued at the Sea Forest Waterway for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Rowing Regatta. Croatia’s Sinkovic brothers became the first rowers to win gold in both the men’s pair and men’s double sculls. Italy’s Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini became the first Olympic medallists in rowing for Italian women and Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are the first-ever Olympic Champions in rowing for Ireland.
Men’s pair (M2-) – Final
At the Rio Olympics Martin and Valent Sinkovic of Croatia took gold in the men’s double sculls and in London they won silver in the men’s quadruple sculls. If they win gold here today in the pair they would be making history. And everything indicated that the Sinkovic brothers were ready to do this. But in the semifinals yesterday, Romania won their race and recorded the fastest qualifying time. They were off and the highest stroke rate went to Denmark. But the first to show was Croatia. The Sinkovic brothers had the best boat speed with Denmark following in second as Canada’s McCabe and Langerfeld went a little crooked.
Martin and Valent Sinkovic then took a full boat length lead with Romania now moving up to overtake Denmark. Spain followed in fourth with the rest of the field right on top of them. Romania’s Tudosa and Cozmiuc and Denmark’s Vystavel and Sutton were now going head to head. Then Tudosa and Cozmiuc pushed away and closed on the Croatians. But the Sinkovics were ready for the Romanian sprint finish. They took the stroke rate up as Romania came at them with every stroke. The margins got closer. Now Denmark was under threat for bronze by the rest of the field. Croatia had held off Romania. Denmark only just held off Canada for bronze. This is Denmark’s first medal in this event since 1968.
Results: CRO, ROU, DEN, CAN, SRB, ESP
To see New Zealand, Australia and Italy in a b-final really says something about the talent at these Olympic Games. And what an adventure to get to this stage. Italy had a boat change, Australia just missed out in the semifinals, the French had major internal selection to be chosen. The field was pretty even at the start with the Turlan twins of France having the edge. Going under the 700m bridge the field remained tightly packed with Austral and New Zealand coming up on the French. Then the Netherlands moved into a piece and at the half way point the Dutch had a small lead.
Nicolas van Sprang and Guillaume Krommenhoek of the Netherlands have quite a height difference with Krommenhoek 202cm tall and van Sprang at 187cm. They won the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. The Dutch continued to push away with Belarus now coming into second over France. Belarus was having a great row and in the final sprint they pushed it. So did France. The Dutch lead shrunk away. Then the French started to go crooked. It looked like steering problems and they changed lanes but still held on to third.
Results: NED, BLR, FRA, AUS, ITA, NZL
Women’s pair (W2-) – Final
Setting a new World Best Time in yesterday’s semifinals put the mark on Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand. They are the World Champions and also racing at this regatta in the women’s eight. But today they were up against Great Britain’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann. Glover is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Champion in this boat class. At the start Filmer and Janssens of Canada got off very quickly. Their tactic to blast out put them in the lead with a line forming behind them. Then New Zealand started to move and they were in second with Great Britain following closely. At the 700m bridge Canada continued to lead with ROC moving up on Great Britain. Now Prendergast and Gowler started to push and they were overlapping with the Canadians. There was more work to do and at the mid way point Canada had half a second over the Kiwis. Prendergast and Gowler had got the lead and were moving the quickest on the water. Filmer glanced out of the boat and tried to hold on. And they did. New Zealand and Canada were neck-and-neck with ROC now overtaking the British. Stepanova and Oriabinskaia had found another gear for ROC.
New Zealand did another push and were just ahead of the Canadians as ROC came at them. Great Britain looked to be out of it. Great Britain came back. It wasn’t over yet. Stepanova and Oriabinskaia were having the sprint of their life. Prendergast and Gowler had done it. Olympic Champions.
Results: NZL, ROC, CAN, GBR, GRE, ESP
Australia missed out on an A-final spot by a heart breaking 0.36 of a second yesterday in the semifinals. They had become Olympic Champions earlier in the day in the women’s four and McIntyre and Morrison of Australia were not out the front today. Romania led the way. Going under the 700m bridge Australia started to move and got ahead of Romania, with Ireland also up there.
McIntyre and Morrison then moved out as Denmark began to shift. The Danes qualified at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta with Olympic single sculler Erichsen coming into the boat with Rasmussen who medalled in the pair at the Rio Olympics. It is a big ask to peak twice in two months and it was great to see the Danes doing their best here. Denmark couldn’t catch Australia but have to be pleased with eighth overall.
Results: AUS, DEN, ROU, USA, IRL, ITA
Lightweight men’s double sculls (LM2x) – Final
The German – Irish showdown was on today. Ireland’s duo of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are the World Champions while Germany’s Jason Osborne and Jonathan Rommelmann have been burning up the course through this Olympic regatta and medalled at the 2019 World Rowing Championships. As predicted Osborne and Rommelmann went out fast and they hit the first 500m mark in the lead over Italy and Ireland. These three boats were leaving the rest of the field behind as they passed under the 700m mark. The Irish then did a push and coming through the middle of the race Ireland had overtaken Italy’s Ruta and Oppo and were moving up on Germany.
At the Rio Olympics O’Donovan took silver in this boat class with his brother Gary they were the first ever Olympic rowing medal for Ireland. Would this be the first Olympic rowing gold for Ireland? The third 500 saw Ireland and Germany going neck-and-neck. At the 1500m mark the Irish had the lead. But then Germany came back. Ireland has the better sprint and Germany knew it. Ireland came back and hit the front with 250m to go. With that Ireland took off. Pure class as O’Donovan and McCarthy showed why they were the favourites. In just over the World Best Time O’Donovan and McCarthy had won the first every Olympic rowing gold for Ireland. Germany had kept up with the Irish sprint to take silver and Italy had held off the Czechs to be the bronze medallists.
Results: IRL, GER, ITA, CZE, BEL, URU
Poland had a great start along with Spain and these two boats moved out at the head of the field. Poland only just missed out on the A-final in yesterday’s semifinals making them the fastest qualifiers. But Spain’s Pombo and Balastegui still held a small leading edge. Spain had taken seventh at the 2021 European Championships. Then Poland took the lead.
In the final sprint Ukraine was flying. Spain and Poland held on. The boats closed up with Spain and Poland only just holding off Ukraine. A special mention to Olympic medallists from Rio, Norway flipped in their semifinal yesterday and were unable to compete today. Also a mention to Arjun Laljat and Arvind Singh of India who finished 11th at these Olympics – an excellent result for India.
Results: ESP, POL, UKR, CAN, IND (NOR, did not start)
Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x) – Final
Italy and Great Britain had fabulous races yesterday to win their respective semifinals and get nearly identical finishing times. Today they would meet each other and go after Olympic gold. Also in the mix was France and the United States – both who look to be improving with every race they do. And then there’s Romania and the reigning Olympic Champions, the Dutch. Not here are the World Champions New Zealand with the retirement of Zoe McBride.
It was incredibly equal at the start with the Netherlands and France moving just a bit faster. Then Great Britain took a small lead with France and Italy the closest. Craig and Grant of Great Britain had a cracker of a race yesterday and they had gone out fast then as well. There was less than a second separating the top four boats at the half way point with France, the Netherlands, Italy and Great Britain all in it. Keijser and Paulis of the Netherlands had the lead and had the fastest pace. Ilse Paulis is going after her second Olympic Champion title and she is with new partner Marieke Keijser.
It was still incredibly close at the final 500m mark with the top four boats remaining in striking distance as the Americans started to charge. Keijser then made a call and they sprinted. Great Britain was coming. France and Italy also. There was nothing in it as the United States continued to charge. The Netherlands had a slight lead. Italy was coming. A slight crab by the Dutch. Oh my gosh. A photo finish! The rowers waited for the results. Italy’s Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini waited. Then Cesarini screamed. The Italians had won gold and the first-ever Olympic gold, or Olympic medal, for Italian women’s rowing. The rest of the crews waited. France’s Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove had won silver and the Netherlands took bronze. The British had missed out by just 0.01 of a second.
Results: ITA, FRA, NED, GBR, USA, ROU
Ireland went out the quickest. The crew of Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey qualified through the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta and Casey is the daughter of coach Dominick Casey, who coaches the gold-medal winning lightweight men’s double. Switzerland then took over in the lead with ROC dropping back as Ireland held on to second. Switzerland’s Rol and Merz have rowed together since 2011 and just missed out on selection for Rio. ROC then moved up and pushed Japan into fourth.
The sprint was on before the 1500m mark and Ireland was moving up on Switzerland. Casey and Cremen pushed on and overtook the Swiss. Switzerland held on and it was going to come down to who had the passion and energy to hold on. Switzerland came back, so did Ireland. It was neck-and-neck. At the line Rol and Merz had done it. They were seventh in the world. And a shout out to Japan for their great result in finishing tenth overall.
Results: SUI, IRL, ROC, JPN, BLR, CAN