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Junior Worlds Saturday: Golden at Eton
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Ed Hewitt, row2k
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All smiles in the USA JW4-

Does anybody celebrate better than the Italians?

As noted in yesterday's report, Sunday's racing has been reduced and rescheduled to avoid severe storms predicted for the afternoon. As a result, all B finals will be run on six-minute centers from 9-9:30, and A finals from 9:40-11:05, local time.

The first day of finals featured what looked like a pretty fair tailwind, decent if a bit bumpy water, 8 hours of racing with most of it on six-minute centers, and six A finals of extremely happy young Worlds medalists, wow. From among a pretty solid group of challengers, the Italian men's eight out-celebrated the entire world pretty handily; check the galleries for the evidence, whew.

But the finals started with a wire-to-wire win for the US women, an unspeakably tremendous birthday gift to bow seat Jessica Eiffert, who turned 18 today. "It is so cool, I became 18 years old today, and this is going to be my golden year," she said, and it already is. "I'm super, super excited," she said after celebrating her birthday on the medal stand. "It's been my goal all year to win the gold. It made it extra special since it's my birthday. It just seemed so surreal at the start. I'm just happy that we won. I think we were confident going in, but I don't think we were over confident. We knew we had to get a quick 250, which we had shown in the heat."

Eifferts was not the only person in the regatta to win gold on their 18th birthday, Malte Jakschik of the gold medal German men's four also turned 18 today.

Along with Lucy Grinalds and Chandler Lally, Eiffert won silver in the event last year; the three made a pact to take gold this year, joined by national team rookie, 14-year-old Mia Croonquist.

"I'm ecstatic right now. I can't believe it all came together," said three-seat Lucy Grinalds, now on her fourth junior team. "I've been nervous about it for the past month, but I've been visualizing it every day. When we started, I was like, 'Is this actually starting.' After we crossed the first 500 and saw that we were up, we were so happy. We just kept pushing it and pushing it, and we had open water going into the last 500. It just feels like my four years have paid off."

Of the other three US crews in the A finals, the best result came in the women's quad, who hung tough in an extremely tight race to place fourth, a half second out of the medals, and only a second off of silver (the women's pair placed sixth, and the men's eight fifth).

"It was a great race," said two-seat Erin Reelick. "It's one of the best performances of the quad (ever), so we're really happy with it. But, it's so hard to be that close and not be able to get the medal. We were really happy with the race. We executed exactly the way we wanted to and that's the best we could do. We put it all out there."

Before the A finals started, there were a slew of semis; perhaps the most interesting international development was the semi-winning efforts of both the men's and women's single scullers from Ireland; when is the last time Ireland won two semis in one day at a World Championship?

The Italian coxed four includes Vincenzo Abbagnale, son of the famous coxed pair Olympic champion; the crew also includes Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York? Nah, can't be. While we're at it, Adam Smith was rowing in the NZ crew; no one asked him what he thought about the present world economy, however. And finally, the GB crew included Alexander Wilding; hopefully he does not fulfill his namesake tonight now that he is done racing.

One Norwegian crew was called to the weigh-in tent after their race, where their boat was found to be fully 5k overweight, which explained why they had not made any trips to the practice scales this week. The officials asked about the shell, and were told that it was "the best boat available in Norway."

Two fourteen year olds won medals today; Mia Croonquist in the US women's four, and coxswain Dario Favilla in the Italian men's four. At six feet tall, Mia looks a bit older than her years; Dario does not.

Quotes from the medalists and from Saturday's semifinalists follow.

Amber de Vere (GB)
It's amazing, really amazing. Because we weren't in the top five, we were just hoping to get in the medals. It was a bit messy because of the conditions but it was really good. We were neck and neck with the Kiwis, but we are happy because we came closer to them in the race than we did two days ago.

Nicole Lamb, GB
We knew to have a consistent middle part of the race, so we relaxed knowing that we've got it.

Catherine Shields, NZ
Everyone responded to every call. We were up against some very strong girls. I am really proud of the girls, everyone deserved the medals they got.

Stuart Sim, Australia
We have all been training hard over the years individually, and it is really great that it all came together like this. We have only been together for one month as a crew.

Aaron Wright, Australia
In the semifinal we never really got into our rhythm, which we were determined to do this time. We wanted to shut out the other crews early on.

Alexander Hill, Australia
Unbelievable, amazing, fantastic, awesome!

Adam Smith, NZ
Everyone came out very fast and there was lots of noise and excitement. We spent the whole race catching up to the other crew and concentrating on what our coxswain was telling us.

Louis van Velthooven, NZ
We did our moves well and we raced well. You never feel comfortable in the race because there is always more that you can do. (Aiming for 2016) is a good goal and I've love to be in the squad but we'll just have to see how it goes from here.

Andrew Potter, NZ
Everything went well for us but we are very young guys and the Australians are more experienced than us. So often it does come down to experience.

Mario Cuomo, Italy
It could have been better but still it's great to win a medal. And of course it's a great feeling to win a medal in the pre-Olympic year on the Olympic regatta course.

Giorgia Lo Bue, Italy
We did not expect this at all. At the beginning it went well but we just were in third place. Then we realized that we were getting faster and faster which pushed us quite a lot. Suddenly we were second and the in the last 250 meters we managed to get even better. I still can't believe it.

Eleni Diamanti, Greece
We were last after the start and got stronger. Now, I feel exhausted and empty.

Michelle Lauer, Germany
We are so glad. It is our first championship. I can't remember much about the race, I just can remember we were second after the start and then we came third. My legs hurt a lot but Italy were so fast we couldn't have caught them. We will try to reach Rio 2016, but who knows.

Lukas-Frederik Mueller, Germany
The start was fantastic. We were in first place and we could not give up the fight.

Malte Jakschik, Germany
This is the best birthday present I could have. I can't believe it.

Jaime Lara Pacheco, Spain
We couldn't believe it. I am really happy to get this medal.

Vasile Agafitei, Romania
It is not good but we came in third place. We didn't feel so good today. It's still just amazing.

Rona Schulz, Germany, whose squad was wearing Union Jack socks
It was the idea of our coach. It's been a great championship and we wanted to thank you for your hospitality and kindness.

Anne Marie Kroll, Germany
We knew we were going to win immediately after the start when we managed to keep ahead of Romania and then managed to keep them away. The water was perfect today, but then everything always is if you win.

Ilse Paulis, Netherlands
The start went well but it could have been better. So after that we were just go, go, go. At 50 meters from the finish we couldn't think of anything else but winning a medal, which was what our coach told us to do.


Bernardo Nannini, Italy
It was a perfect day and a perfect race. Everyone is so happy and it is like a dream. This is my first gold medal, and after the disappointment in Racice we are just amazed. We tried to attack straight away; it was a really short race since the wind was strong. We were leading the whole race.

Pietro Zileri, Italy
I want to tell my teammates they are the best in the world. Our strength is in the head and not in the body. We are so happy that we are World Champions.

Luke Briggs, GB
We took it one step at a time, and the Italians went off fast along with Germany. To be honest we race it like a time trial for as long as we could and only in the last 500 meters did we really see where the other crews were. We are really pleased. To get a silver is a great outcome.

Cameron MacRitchie, GB
The Italians were just too quick, but it feels really good to go home with a medal. It's my first and only World Championship, and it's good to get a medal.

Nico Merget, Germany
We started four weeks ago, one week after our national finals. Halfway through our practice we switched our stroke man, so we started quite late. I think the bronze medal is very good at the World Championships. The Italians are the best crew this year. Some of us might be angry and little bit, but we had a very good race plan.

Quotes from Saturday's semifinalists:

Vlad-Dragos Aicoboae, Romania
We were in the final last year and are world rowing champions. Maybe we will win again tomorrow. Serbia and Greece are our main rivals for the final. We had a good start and were strong in the middle of the race.

Vuk Matovic, Serbia
We tried to be fast during the first 1000 meters, to beat the Romanians was the main thing in this semifinal. We hope to be world champions, or second place.

Konstantinos Christomanos, Greece
This will be our first final. Tomorrow will be more difficult that today, but I think we will be okay. Germany may be our main rivals but not sure about who is strong from the other semifinal.

Alexandros Louloudis, Greece
It was a very difficult race. The heats were very easy compared to this. Tomorrow will be extrememly difficult, I know, but we are ready for that. We were leading all the way from the beginning, even though we didn't have a good start, but we found it later and came through. (To become World Champions) is a dream, and this is certainly our goal, to win again the world championships. But the Germans, Romanians, and Serbians will be tough to beat.

Milda Valcuikaite, Lithuania
We wanted to win and finally did. The German girls are very strong, and we could not expect such a great race from Spain, but we overcame that.

Julia Leiding, Germany
Our start was not great. But over the meters it went better and was even better in the last 250 meters.

Constanze Sydow, Germany
It was very exhausting. The last 250 meters were great. We could go more frequent (means fast)

Lindsay Boland, Canada (team manager)
They had a great race. They stuck to their race plan exactly. They did exactly as they were told.

Jan Kanduc, Slovenia
It went according to plans, but we did expect it to be easier. It might have been the water conditions or the strength of the other competitors, but we had to work hard. At the start we were afraid of the Belgians because they are always very fast in the last 500 meters, but I looked around and they wer behind us. (On their main rivals): After this semifinal everyone.

Edward Grisedale, GB
We raced much harder than our race plan. It was a bit of a scrap but we just raced as hard as we could all the way.

Kai Fuhrmann, Germany
It's a great feeling to win the race and to know you are in the A final. The water was optimum for us as we train in very similar water. The weather was just as we like it. We must do more in the final if we are to beat our main rivals, France and the Czech Republic. They are very strong teams.

Denis Sittel, Germany
Our plan for the final is to make sure we are in front of France at the 500 meter mark. As far as we are concerned France are the ones to beat.

Maximilian Schadfer, Germany
We have had a quick start and we were able to work well in the first 1000 meters. We left the other nations with a chance to catch up, but we maintained our distance to the Netherlands all the way to the end. This is a completely new crew for 2011, but we will try to retain our title. For us, this is very important.

Abe Wiersma, Netherlands
I thought I would have more energy for the last 500 meters but I was seriously exhausted by then. For us the first 500 meters were too fast, but we will change it and have more energy for the final. Everything will be faster.

Marco Calamaro, Italy
It has not been a difficult race. We were first from the beginning, with Romania and New Zealand stronger than the others, but overall the race was fairly easy. Obviously the final is another thing, so we will give everything we have. We are increasing our speed each day. We were better than yesterday but tomorrow we hope to go even faster still. The German crew is all new this year, but half of our boat has experience from the world championships last year, so we know we have an advantage.


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