Six GB boats in Saturday’s Finals
Six out of eight GB crews ensured that they will be in the starting line up for Saturday’s finals at the World Championships, sponsored by Siemens – and in position to take advantage of huge home support – by qualifying through today’s semi-finals. The conditions played their part on a day when technique was just as critical as power.
The men’s four – sponsored by Camelot – won their semi-final in a race which largely followed a familiar pattern. The GB boat was first to 250m and had developed around a length’s lead on the field by halfway. As the race progressed, it became apparent that the German crew carried the greatest threat. The Germans threw everything at the GB four in the last 500m, but to the relief of the grandstand crowd, Williams, Reed, Partridge and Hodge were able to prevail.
Other bright spots included a return to form of the men’s pair who finished strongly to take second spot in their semi-final. The men’s and women’s doubles qualified for Saturday’s ‘A’ finals and there was a great controlled win from Zac Purchase in the lightweight single.
The day’s events satisfied GB Rowing’s Performance Director, David Tanner, "We have 6 finalists from the 8 boats that raced today, so I’m pleased with that. The conditions were difficult for racing today. They were fair, but they challenged a lot of crews – not just those from GB.
"The two wins for Zac Purchase and the men’s four were great and it was also good to see the men’s pair back in form. Today’s events just show how hard medals are going to be to win this weekend."
THURSDAY’S RACING IN FULL
The men’s four – sponsored by Camelot – won their semi-final as many would have expected and although they got in front early on, they were pushed all the way to the line by a determined German outfit. The GB boat was first to 250m and had developed around a length’s lead on the field by halfway. The Germans threw everything at the GB four in the last 500m, but to the relief of the grandstand crowd, Williams, Reed, Partridge and Hodge were able to prevail.
Steve Williams summed up the proceedings, "We did pretty well with the fast conditions and strong tail wind. The race was always going to be fast and we wanted to be out in front and away from fight for positions. It was a bit close towards the finish, but we came through comfortably enough in the end."
The men’s pair knew their semi-final was going to be a test and so it proved. The Australian crew containing the experienced Drew Ginn was the first to show and led the field at the first marker. The GB crew remained in touch alongside the other early pace-setters from Italy. By 1500m the Australians had established a cushion that seemed like it would be decisive, but then Smith and James started a push for the line, passing the Italians and taking them to within a second of the Australians at the finish. The GB pair progressed to the final knowing that they will still be very much in contention.
Colin Smith explained that the conditions played their part, "The race went according to plan in that we made it through to the final. It was a tough race because of the conditions and it wasn’t until the last 300-400m that I was sure that we were in the top 3."
The men’s double’s semi-final proved to be a procession behind a quality outfit from Slovenia, who took control of the race early on. Behind them, a dog fight broke out between the evenly matched crews of GB and Poland. The Poles eventually prevailed at the finish – to their evident delight – but Wells and Rowbotham held on to third and a place in the starting line-up for Saturday’s final.
As far as Matthew Wells was concerned, the main objective was achieved, "Priority one was to reach the final, second priority was to win this race. It got choppier after 500m and we hit more blades than the rest. Now, we race for the medals."
In the second semi-final of the women’s double sculls, the GB crew of Vernon and Bebington were up against it as the strong Belarusian pair set off well and led from start to finish. Around the halfway mark the GB crew was fighting for second place with Germany and the US, but over the final 500m the field had spread out and with Germany in front, the GB crew had to hold off a late charge from the French to secure their place in Saturday’s final.
Anna Bebington "To be honest I didn’t have my radar on as it should be, the French gave us a little surprise, but it turned out to be fine. We’ve trained for 12 months for this one race on Saturday, we’re not in it for recreation, we’re in it to win."
The women’s eight were the first to race on Thursday morning, having had their repechage held over from the previous afternoon. The Germans in lane 4 were the first to show and broke clear of the field after the first 500m. The race for the second final berth was then between GB and Canada. Canada edged ahead after the halfway mark and established a cushion of around half a length. Try as they might, the GB eight couldn’t make inroads into the Canadians and the end result was a third place finish.
Elise Laverick explained that the crew will now reflect on what they’ve learned during the World Championships, "We’ve had a good season, but we’re a young crew and it’s a big step up from World Cups to the World Championships. We didn’t put our best race in in the heats and it’s hard to turn things around from there.
"But part of being an elite sportsperson is going through times like this and realising how much you want it. The biggest event in rowing is the Olympic Games and now we need to look at how we can move ourselves forward over the next two years, to get where we need to be in Beijing."
In the men’s lightweight single, Zac Purchase was joined in the semi-final by Pappas of Greece who had tested him earlier in the week during the heats. Indeed, it was Pappas who made the early running in today’s semi-final. Purchase went with him and was back on terms by halfway. In a controlled and mature piece of sculling, the 20 year old from Tewkesbury took a length’s lead with a quarter to go and the result was a comfortable win in tough conditions.
Purchase acknowledged that he perhaps made the race look easier than it was, "It was a good paced race. The conditions were faster than in the heat and the wind and waves made the last 500m very challenging."
In the women’s lightweight single, Antonia van Deventer didn’t get the best of starts and, in the conditions, it was always going to be tough playing catch-up. She failed to get back in amongst the pack, but will have learned plenty fro her World Championships experience.
=============================== =============================== WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ETON, GREAT BRITAIN RESULTS DAY FIVE (Races involving British crews only)
Eight – Repechage
1. Germany 6.05.57
2. Canada 6.10.26
3. Beth Rodford/Natasha Page/Vicki Etiebet/Carla Ashford/Natasha Howard/Alison Knowles/Katie Greves/Elise Laverick/Caroline O’Connor (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:14.87
4. France 6:15.55
5. Russia 6:15.56
1. Volha Beraznioza/Yuliya Bichyk (Belarus) 6:54.62
2. Britta Oppelt/Susanne Schmidt (Germany) 6:56.48
3. Annie Vernon/Anna Bebington (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:59.16
4. Celine Cuisant-Garcia/Inene Pascal-Pretre (France) 7:00.07
5. Brett Sickler/Susan Francia (United States) 7:06.26
6. Aliz Konya/Lidia Veroci (Hungary) 7:11.01
1. Drew Ginn/Duncan Free (Australia) 6:22.37
2. Colin Smith/Tom James (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:23.87
3. Kevin Light/Malcolm Howard (Canada) 6:25.52
4. Goran Jagar/Nikola Stojic (Serbia) 6:34.21
5. Giuseppe De Vita/Lorenzo Porzio (Italy) 6:36.30
6. Jakub Makovicka/Jan Schindler (Czech Republic) 6:46.19
1. Steve Williams/Peter Reed/Alex Partridge/Andrew Hodge (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:49.94
2. Germany 5:50.55
3. Slovenia 5:53.02
4. Canada 5:55.55
5. Ireland 5:59.13
6. Italy 6:07.04
1. Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic) 6:45.12
2. Olaf Tufte (Norway) 6:46.52
3. Alan Campbell (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:47.43
4. Yoennis Hernandez Arruez (Cuba) 6:48.54
5. Sjoerd Hamburger (Netherlands) 6:50.84
6. Jamie Schroeder (United States) 6:54.22
1. Luka Spik/Iztok Cop (Slovenia) 6:14.34
2. Michal Sloma/Marcin Brzezinski (Poland) 6:16.32
3. Matthew Wells/Stephen Rowbotham (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:17.73
4. Nils-Torolv Simonsen/Morten Adamsen (Norway) 6:18.58
5. Valery Radzevich/Pavel Shurmei (Belarus) 6:29.06
6. Kestutis Keblys/Mindaugas Griskonis (Lithuania) 6:35.29
1.Pamela Weisshaupt (Switzerland) 7:44.29
2. Marit Van Eupen (Holland) 7:44.45
3. Teresa Mas De Xaxars (Spain) 7:44.71
4. Ismaray Marrero Aria (Cuba) 7:45.28
5. Hilde Gudem (Norway) 8:00.97
6. Antonia Van Deventer (GREAT BRITAIN) 8:02.73
1. Zac Purchase (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:56.72
2. Elias Pappas (Greece) 6:58.56
3. Duncan Grant (New Zealand) 7:00.21
4. Jonathan Koch (Germany) 7:03.21
5. Jeff Bujas (Canada) 7:03.82
6. Edgar Nanne (Guatamala) 7:11.19