Full House for GB on Repechage Day in Japan
All seven British crews competing in today’s repechages – or "second chance" races – qualified either for semi-finals or finals at the BearingPoint World Rowing Championships in Gifu, Japan.
The men’s and women’s eight both made the finals by finishing second today. Each feat was as remarkable as the other given that the men had to oust the 2003 World Champions from Canada to book a place behind winners Italy – something they managed by just under three tenths of a second in a tense battle to the line – whilst the women are very much the "new kids on the block".
All six of Britain’s female Athens Olympic medallists are through to finals now because Debbie Flood and Elise Laverick today won their repechage of the women’s double scull. They join the Camelot-sponsored women’s quadruple scull, stroked by Katherine Grainger, who have already made their final.
The lightweight women’s quadruple scull looked strong in winning their repechage today and will now race in the final on Sunday.
Perhaps the gutsiest performance of the day came from Colin Smith in the men’s single scull. He emerged from a torrid three-boat battle to win his repechage and move into the semi-finals.
Both lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls also progressed to semi-finals – the women by winning and the men by taking second place behind Poland.
"I’m so pleased with the way it has gone today", said GB Team Manager David Tanner. "The women’s eight have made a step up, the men’s eight have shown they have what it takes at this level – especially in that last 750m of the course. The lightweight women’s double scull did much better as did the lightweight men’s double, the lightweight women’s quad showed strength, the women’s double did what they needed to do and we shouldn’t forget that performance by Colin Smith who rowed out of his skin. It’s been a great day!"
Britain has now qualified five crews for the finals and 11 boats have semi-finals to contest. Further finalists could come from the two adaptive (disability) crews who have their heats on Friday.
There are semi-finals tomorrow and Friday with the finals on Saturday and Sunday.
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On one of the most successful repechage days for Britain at recent World Rowing Championships it was hard to make a pick from a string of outstanding results.
Until the men’s and women’s eights took to the course for their own battles you would have said that few could better the British performance of the event to date from single sculler Colin Smith.
Forced into rowing’s gruelling and ultimate test by his double scull partner’s pre-trip illness, Smith produced the race of his life so far to win this morning’s repechage and qualify for tomorrow’s semi-finals in 6:38.73 just two seconds outside the world best time set by Germany’s Marcel Hacker with a roaring tailwind in Seville three years ago.
Smith, considered small in physique for the event and with a target of making the top ten here on his senior world championships single scull debut, bolted out of the starters blocks, had almost a length on the field by 200m and kept plugging away. His main challengers were David Crawshay of Australia and Kostiantyn Zaitzev of the Ukraine. Twice the Ukrainian hauled him back and passed him, with the Australian in close order. Twice Smith responded until the Ukrainian, finally broken in the last 150m, faded back to fourth. Crawshay was second and Kristaps Bokums of Latvia third.
Jubilant would be the word to describe the British reaction. Smith himself was pleased but much calmer: "I didn’t come here to plod along. At no point did I think I wasn’t going to win. It was my best single sculling race ever, my best performance so far.
"I had to change my race plan today as my second 500m had been a bit weak. I’m glad it worked, I didn’t know if it would. I had to push every single second today", he said.
If the British contingent were "jubilant" after that early effort, "ecstatic" would better describe the mood by the time the British men’s eight had crossed the line 0.27 seconds ahead of Canada to take second place in their repechage and book a place in the final in the last race of this morning’s schedule.
In customary style the Italians were fast at the start of this race. They got out in front and stayed there. But the British did not lose contact and the Canadians snapped at their heels, too.
"Today we knew at that halfway point that we were still in it because Acer (Nethercott – the cox) had been telling us we were still in contact with the Italians and tracking the Canadians", said strokeman Kieran West afterwards.
"In the final 500m I’m not sure exactly where we were I knew it was close but I wasn’t sure how close", he said but as the crew crossed the line they knew they had done enough. "I said to Acer – "what a difference a day makes"", explained West of a crew that were so disappointed after yesterday’s heats.
The British women’s eight, fresh from their own success in also taking second place to qualify for the final, were still on the water and able to thump their boat loudly and cheer the men on.
In the women’s race it was the USA who showed early with the rest in a chasing pack. Britain, furthest from the grandstands, were third at 500m – a second down on Belarus. By the halfway point the British had moved into second and were closing on the USA with Germany now threatening.
"We discussed as a crew before the race that we had to commit to that third 500m, to tell ourselves it was a new race from 1000m", said Carla Ashford afterwards. "The whole crew wanted it so badly today and I think that made a difference", she said.
In a very close second half, the Germans marginally overhauled the British momentarily before a final push saw Britain take second place, Australia third and Germany fourth. The USA won in 6:01.26 with GB finishing in 6:03.31.
Britain’s other repechage winner was the lightweight women’s quadruple scull. Fast off the mark they got ahead early and never let up. Their performance today ahead of the Netherlands suggests they are genuine contenders for a medal in Sunday’s final.
"We are really pleased about how it went today. We dominated the race and let others fight it out behind us. It was nice to be out front and watch the bunfight develop", said Tanya Brady who sculls at bow and who is a captain in the Royal Logistics Corps of the army – an employer who has backed her all the way to compete at this level.
Elise Laverick and Debbie Flood "did the job they had to do" according to GB Team Manager David Tanner today. The job at hand was to qualify for the women’s double scull final which they duly did by winning their repechage in 6:43.47.
Both of the British women are experienced as individuals. Each has an Athens Olympic medal to their name. As a double scull, though, they are still relatively untried even if they did win bronze at the final world cup of the season in Lucerne six weeks ago.
In today’s race they had engineered a length lead by the 1000m mark. Several times the second-placed Australians attempted to come back at them but to no avail.
"The repechage today was always going to be tough", said Flood. "We knew the other three crews would be pushing hard. We got a lead then just needed to maintain it. We were a bit more relaxed than in the heat".
Laverick and Flood’s win today means that all six of Britain’s female Olympic medallists from Athens will now appear in the finals here – the double scull on Saturday and the quadruple scull on Sunday.
In the early part of their lightweight women’s double scull repechage today Helen Casey and Jennifer Goldsack, at the head of the race, were pushed by the Spanish. The British got their noses in front by the 1000m and were perhaps a little surprised that the Spanish didn’t come back on them. From there it was just a question of staying focussed.
"We have a really good second half normally to our races so we were confident once we got ahead of Spain that we could keep there", said Casey.
"It’s given us a lot of confidence for the semi-final. We know the race plan works", added her Wallingford club-mate Goldsack.
Leander club captain Mark Hunter and his bowman James Lindsay-Fynn also got off to a good start in the equivalent men’s event. By the halfway mark they were still marginally ahead of Poland. And, although the Poles then pushed on past them, the British were not perturbed and came home to take the second qualifying spot.
As coach Robin Williams explained: "Basically we had to beat the Slovenians. That was the plan. We knew they were the main threat and we took the Slovenians in the first minute so, I suppose, you could say "Job done".
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RESULTS DAY THREE
(Races involving British crews only)
1. USA 6:01.26
2. Beth Rodford/Natasha Page/Anna Bebington/
Carla Ashford/Natasha Howard/Jessica Eddie/
Katie Greves/Alison Knowles/Caroline O’Connor (cox)
(GREAT BRITAIN) 6:03.31
3. Australia 6:04.09
4. Germany 6:04.60
5. Belarus 6:06.00
6. Russia 6:14.43
1. Elise Laverick/Debbie Flood (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:43.37
2. Amber Bradley/Sally Kehoe (Australia) 6:43.37
3. Marianne Nordahl/Heidi Veeser (Norway) 6:45.47
4. Lia Pernell/Megan Cooke (USA) 6:49.50
1. Italy 5:26.64
2. Simon Fieldhouse/Tom Stallard/Jonno Devlin/
Richard Egington/Josh West/Henry Bailhache-Webb/
Tom Parker/Kieran West/Acer Nethercott (cox)
(GREAT BRITAIN) 5:28.59
3. Canada 5:28.86
4. Belarus 5:37.15
5. Romania 5:41.13
1. Colin Smith (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:38.73
2. David Crawshay (Australia) 6:39.34
3. Kristaps Bokums (Latvia) 6:44.90
4. Kostiantyn Zaitsev (Ukraine) 7:04.42
5. Amine Zerdali (Morocco) 7:41.71
1. Helen Casey/Jennifer Goldsack (GREAT BRITAIN)
2. Lourdes Guillen Cruz/Maria Almuedo Castillo (Spain)
3. Kyoko Aoyama/Maho Fukuda (Japan) 7:01.93
4. Sevara & Zarrina Ganieva (Uzbekistan) 7:05.49
5. Phuttaraksa Nikree/Bussayamas Phaengkathok
6. Femy Batuwael/Rosmina Sanggrang Bano (Indonesia)
1. Tanya Brady/Lorna Norris/Hester Goodsell/Noami
Hoogesteger (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:19.86
2. France 6:21.53
3. Netherlands 6:22.31
4. Japan 6:26.26
5. USA 6:26.40
1. Pawel Randa/Robert Sycz (Poland) 6:12.68
2. Mark Hunter/James Lindsay-Fynn 6:18.53
3. Igor Ronchi/Mitja Trkov (Slovenia) 6:23.18
4. Nuno Mendes/Rui Seixo (Portugal) 6:27.97
5. Ruslan Naurzaliyev/Sergey Bogdanov (Uzebekistan)
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