The 2010 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Brest, Belarus, finished up today - with Canada bringing home two medals.
The men's pair race was Canada's first podium performance. The Canadians (Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont. and Anthony Jacob of Vancouver, B.C.) had a good start, but at the 1000-metre mark South Africa had a lead on the field by a touch of open water. The other five boats were very close through the middle. Canada kept attacking pushing the rest of the field back, and they moved just short of even with South Africa, but it wasn't quite enough to take the lead.
South Africa won gold in 6:45.46, Canada was a close second in 6:46.96 and Romania held bronze position in 6:49.22 - followed by Germany (6:51.63), France (6:52.89) and Serbia (6:55.99). All times over 2000 metres.
"The goal was gold, but we had our best race on the day and we're both happy with that. Moving forward it will only add to the motivation to improve, and put more fuel on the fire," said McCabe, a University of Washington student.
McCabe and Anthony are no strangers to the podium - they brought home a silver from the Junior Worlds in Beijing in 2007 and both were in the Under 23 eight that was second in the World in 2008. This year, they joined the senior team for a World Cup in Lucerne just before the trip to Belarus.
Canada's second medal today was in the women's eight. The Canadian eight had a solid start in its final race, but the U.S. took over by the middle and stayed up front. Canada and New Zealand kept pushing each other, and although the Canadians put on a great last effort, they didn't catch New Zealand, who took silver.
The Americans' winning time was 6:31.97, next was New Zealand in 6:36.48; with Canada getting the bronze in 6:38.16. Germany (6:41.83), France (6:57.66) and Belarus (7:01.42) rounded out the final field.
The Canadian eight overcame a challenging week to pick up this medal - one of the crew members, Rosie DeBoef, was too ill to row, so lightweight Patricia Obee stepped in today - rowing in both her event, the lightweight double, and filling in for DeBoef, who is now on the road to recovery, in the eight.
"There was no question that we were going to give it all that we had today," said member of the bronze-medal crew, Lauren Wilkinson. "We weren't just rowing for ourselves, we were rowing for Rosie and for Patricia, and for the rest of the Canadian team - including all the coaches and support staff who have helped us through the week."
The eight for this race was (coxswain) Kristen Kit of St. Catharines, ON, Laura Cowal of Thorold, ON, Natalie Mastracci of Thorold, ON, Lauren Wilkinson of North Vancouver, BC, Christine Roper of Reading, Jamaica, Catherine Hart of Westmount, QC, Sarah Black of Ottawa, ON, Patricia Obee of Victoria, BC, and Ashton Brown of Calgary, AB.
"We are all proud of the way the women handled the changes in the lineup this week and of they way they performed today," said Peter Cookson, High Performance Director for Rowing Canada Aviron. "Overall, the Under 23 program is an important stage in our athlete development strategy and we will continue to use and expand on this program to help prepare athletes for the senior team."
In other Canadian racing, the lightweight women's single finished fourth in 8:22.29. Catherine Bouchard-Pilote of Boucherville, QC stayed in third position for half of the race, but couldn't hold off a strong charge by the Japanese sculler who ended up in second. Belarus, Japan and South Africa won medals in this event today.
"The women all had exciting races today," said women's development coach Michelle Darvill. "We are proud of their performances and extremely grateful for the support we've received."
The lightweight women's double (Elizabeth Fenje and Patricia Obee, both of Victoria, B.C.) was fifth overall in a time of 7:43.23. Greece took gold in this event in 7:28.71.
The lightweight men's quad was third in its B final in 6:32.60 - ninth overall. Members of this crew are Kevin Mitchell of Victoria, Renaud Garon-Gendron of Boucherville, QC, Thomas Watson of Victoria, B.C., and Kristjan Joubert of St-Lambert, QC,
The lightweight men's pair (Eric Woelfl of St. Catharines, ON, and Stuart Taylor of Brockville ON) was sixth in the B final in 7:36.04, or 12th overall.
Yesterday, the Canadian men's coxed four was fifth overall.
On this second day of finals at the U23 Worlds, 15 events raced with gold medals being spread over 12 different nations.