The British team showed up on the medal podium in every sweep event; Lottery dollars notwithstanding, that is one impressive feat. The run-up to 2012 could certainly have something to do with it; if you have a chance a year out to make a case you should be on the team for possibly the only home Olympics in your lifetime, you're going to make it.
Here's what happened today, as we saw it and in the words of the people who made it happen.
Great Britain's adaptive team is deep and robust, and after ceding the title in this event to Canada last year, they took back the crown today with a wire-to-wire win over Canada, who had to settle for silver, and Germany in bronze. The US crew had trouble getting a good head of steam, and placed sixth – they had already qualified for 2012 in the top eight event.
Yu LI (CHN)
"The race was great. We hope to row that well at the Paralympics in London. It was a tough race today. "
"Very very very good. This was the last race for the Ukraine and our last chance to shine, that is why we had to concentrate. We are all very happy."
Light Men's Quad
A very veteran Italian squad won this race on the last stroke of the race, after the Germans had almost sprinted through them. How veteran? Their birthdates are in 1974, 1976, 1977, and the baby in the bow in 1987. All told, they have 28 world championship titles among them! The US crew never quite got themselves in the medal hunt, and had to settle for fifth overall. "We gave it our best shot," said bow seat Shane Madden. "We have to go home, get back to work. We have to get strong. We have to get faster."
Interview with Franco Sancassani
Experience is fundamental for doing this kind of race, and we trained for the last 500 meters, which we knew was very important to win the race. But Germany was stronger, but we… (makes the motion of flexing his bicep and pulling hard, and laughs).
Question: What were you thinking these last 15 strokes?
I hope that my leg and arms don't stop, don't leave me.
Stefano Basalini (ITA) – Gold
"After Lucerne, we especially trained for the finish of the race and we definitely improved. It was a really tough race and we were very aware of the Germans. On the last 300m, my eyes were closed and we just went for it. This is awesome, it's my seventh World Championship title, the ninth for Franco. Daniele is our most medalled man with now his 11th title and it's the first World Champs for our youngster in the bow and already the gold medal for him as well. Fantastic!
Michael Wieler (GER) – Silver
"We had trouble coping with the waves in the first 1000 metres, we lost too much to win here. Not overly happy now."
Stefan Wallat (GER) - Silver
"We won in Lucerne, and we really wanted to win here, after we crossed the finish line I could only curse myself."
Martin Batenburg (DEN) – Bronze
"The water conditions were difficult and we had to concentrate on our balance. It was like a tunnel race. Impossible to look at the other boats. At the end we knew that we are the quickest in the last 500m."
Lightweight men's eight
After a less than eye-opening race in the preliminary race for lanes on Thursday, the Australian crew uncorked a deadly sprint today to slip by the high-stroking Italian crew and nab the gold by 0.16 seconds. It seemed like a long wait for the results, so when the board lit up with results, the crew was clearly excited. Coached by former US and Princeton coach Curtis Jordan, and with two of their guys doubling into the light pair, the crew has been doing practices with members of the women's four in the bow section, which caused them to lose very little speed in practice, as they explain below.
"It doesn't matter how you prepare, you just don't expect this feeling when you finish, it's pretty exciting. The eight have been together as a core group from last year, and we just really developed a good brotherhood, and I was doing it for the rest of the boys."
Interview with Tommy Bertrand and Nick Baker, AUS LM8
Question: you guys are coached by an American, how did that go?
Bertrand: Yeah, Curtis is amazing. I think a lot of the guys really recognize his passion for rowing, such a good demeanor, and really knows how to get the most out of everyone. He's been great.
Question: How did you turn around from this preliminary race, where you weren't on top, to go and win this race?
Bertrand: In the preliminary race we had a couple of guys race earlier in the day in the pair, Tom Gibson and Blair Tunevitsch, so they were a little disappointed with their row in the pair, so we just needed to get through to today. We stayed calm, and we knew we were out there to do a job today.
Question: you have been doing pieces with some of the women in your boat, how did that go?
Bertrand: Yeah, that's right, because the other guys were in the pair, we were fortunate enough to have two girls out of the four, Peta (White) and Renee (Chatterton), and I have to say I could hardly feel the difference! They got a silver in the women's four yesterday.
Question: You were doing pieces for time this week with them, how did they hold up?
Baker: We did 96% progs (prognostics), so, better than most of the other crews! (both laugh)
Darryn Purcell (AUS) – Gold
"I had no idea where we were. We just kept pushing and pushing to the line. The plan was to get out well and on the second 1000 to just go for courage. This is awesome."
David Webster (AUS) – Gold
"Honestly, I thought we hadn't won. With the different boats, seats, the excitement I just couldn't tell. When it then came up on the board it was just unbelievable. And I still can't believe it!"
Gianluca Santi (ITA) – Silver
"We had the best race we could. Of course it's a bit bitter-sweet but it was a perfect race for us, but Australia was just a little bit better than us."
Christian Pedersen (DEN) – Bronze
"We had a reasonable start, better than in the race for lanes. We couldn't hang on to the Australians, but in the end we just battled and battled, aiming for the second place. Only after the finish line I noticed that France was close as well, just finishing in fourth."
The British boat is really on a roll this summer, and they wrapped up the squad's seventh gold of the week in this event, with a medal in every sweep event they entered on both the men's and women's side. They spotted Greece and Australia a couple seats in the early going, then opened it up, and were never really under threat too much. The US crew shadowed the medals pack by about a length for most of the race, and closed in aggressively approaching the line, but couldn't make up enough water.
"It was a good effort from the whole team," said Guiseppe Lanzone, who was in the four last year at Lake Karapiro and finished fifth. "We had to work hard to get through each race. There are no easy races in the straight four. It definitely took a toll from yesterday's race, but everybody had to race hard yesterday. It's a matter of how can we recover faster and have that edge on everybody else and still have that pop."
The Greek crew capped off a great summer with a silver medal. "From the start we tried to keep the distance with the British, but it was too hard for us, so we stayed near to them and we tried to attack at the end," said Ioannis Tsilis of the Greek crew. "We tried but it was too fast, this time. We hope next year!" Asked what is special about the boat, he said "Good and hard training. All the summer, all the winter, all the year. All the year we are all together at the training camps, and we try to be at the top always."
Interview with Drew Ginn, AUS 2-seat
You guys have had a long summer, and then it seemed to come together here.
Yeah, it's good. We're a pretty new combination, so when we race Lucerne, there had been a change; Sam had come in and we were finding our way back in Melbourne. Since then we had a good training block in Italy, and feel like we can go better, but really good to get our result today.
Question: what have you changed, what has gotten better?
I think just understanding how to move together, understanding each other. These guys have done a bit of rowing together the last couple years, but I was completely new to the group, so it's taken us a while to get familiar with each other. Even the movement in the boat, just challenging how we row. It's not about what we've done in the past, or about what these guys have done, but about finding what works for us as a four, so it's been good.
Question: You were pretty banged up a couple years ago; how are you feeling now?
Marvelous. I'm feeling like an eighteen year old again. Just row with young blokes and you'll be fine! No, it's good; I was, not overly confident at the start of it all 12 months ago that the body would hold up, but it's been better than what I could ask for. And it's good rowing with guys that are all enthusiastic and keen and committed, so it means you have something to look forward to every time you go out on the water.
Question: What is the age gap from the youngest guy to you?
What is it, 15 years. I'm 36 years young!
Question: Do you like their music?
I'm getting exposed to music and movies that I never thought I'd see!
Richard Egington (GBR) – Gold
"The pressure in our boat was very heavy because we were unbeaten this season. Now the challenge is to stay unbeaten in London. The Australians are coming on very strong. . "
Josh Dunkley-Smith (AUS) – Bronze
"We kinda watched the greek guys and wanted to challenge the British as much as we could. We'll have a bit of downtime, but get back into it quickly and we'll step up again for next year."
Light Women's Double
A searing sprint by the Canadian double almost completely upended the apparent standings going across the 500 to go mark; only winner Greece, who had led the whole way, failed to drop a spot as the Canadians blasted through for silver. The GB crew had to settle for bronze, and the US crew a close fourth, just out of the medals, ouch. "This is bittersweet," said Kristin Hedstrom. "This caps off a great season with Julie and I. It's been one heck of a wild ride this summer. To come away with fourth is certainly an achievement, but it's always hard to be right out of the medals, to just miss them."
interview with the Canadian LW2x Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee
Jennerich: We are earning ourselves a reputation (for sprinting). What I like about that is that we know that, as long as we're in the pack by about a boat length with 500 to go, we've got what it takes to get through.
Question: Do you like racing this way?
Jennerich: (laughs) I'd prefer to lead, but I also consider that somewhat stupid or arrogant to think that you can do that in every race in a field like this. Sometimes you just have to find what works for you and your partner, so where Tracey and I were used to leading, Obee and I we haven't done that in this regatta, at least to the 500, so I think we found our own way to do it. I'm really proud of us for getting this silver medal.
Question: you haven't been together long, how did you get this to click so quickly?
Obee: Lindsay has really good boat feel, and I have a lot of power, but not really how to move the boat, and Lindsay really helped me put the power to moving the boat. She makes it really easy for me to row in front of her, so I think together we were able to find a way to bring our best together.
Jennerich: we trained together a lot all winter on the ergs, so I saw what kind of output she had, so I knew that, when we got in this boat four weeks ago, if I could just make the boat feel like an erg for her, I had every confidence I'd get the most out of her. She's a racer, and that's what you need in stroke seat.
Question: People sometimes say that doubles are born, not made; did this boat come together right away, do you believe in that?
Jennerich: I do; I think to make a great double, it needs to start out good. I think today we weren't a great double, but I think that Obee and I have the potential to be a great double.
Jennerich: I'm really proud of how she composed herself this regatta, and how we just mentally stuck to the job, and it paid off today so much. I'd say that this silver for me is as good.
Question: at 19 years old, did you think you would be up here?
Obee: I hoped! I had to believe that I would be, but it's a little bit of a shock. I wouldn't have thought that I'd be up here three weeks ago, because I wasn't even in the boat, but how we've been going in the regatta, I got more and more confident every race that, if we rowed the race we could, we'd be up here.
Interview with Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hoskin, GB LW2x
Goodsell: Today was just about going and attacking. And it's really such as before we came out. It's about desire and we so desired a medal. Absolutely and utterly we desired a medal. And it's more than that we thought we could do it and we just had to put that into fruition and, you know, I mean Soph we did an amazing job basically leading us out. I knew that Reedy said to me yesterday that you've got to lead it and I've got to put myself in exactly the same place. I mean it was so tight. I thought we might have the silver at one stage. But the Canadians have the most incredible wind and we just went for it at the end. We still won a bronze.
Question: How disappointed were you with the semifinal in which you really had to push to get into the final.
Hosking: I think it really motivated us in terms that it was a wake up. I've not been through qualification before, so it was a real learning point in terms of how much it means to everyone. Obviously it means a huge amount to us. But we know that in that position and battling for the final and I think that we were caught a bit unaware in the last part of the race because up till then I felt like we were sort of rowing a good race. But it was a massive motivation and we had 24 hours to think about it and put it right. We had a lot of talking and came up with a lot of good things. At the end of the day of talking it was just about getting on the water and going out there and doing the job. And we've done that. It's just that every step now is a practice for next year. The pressure upping and upping and upping and I'm just really pleased that with all the pressure that we've got on ourselves this morning we were able to deliver the result.
Question: What were you thinking while you were waiting for this result to come? Did you think you had it?
Goodsell: I think I did. Yeah.
Question: Did you take a look?
Goodsell: Of course. I mean, I didn't know. I thought we might have had silver but I didn't realize how quite close it was until I saw the board. But we raced our hearts out.
Christina Giazitzidou (GRE) – Gold
"We are very happy. We trained a lot and hard to have a good level but this was really unexpected. Now we know we are able to do this and we will train hard to keep this level. "
Hester Goodsell (GBR) – Bronze
"We didn't have a good semi, but today was great and we raced our heart out. We so desired a medal and we were confident we could do, but had to put it all into action. Soph did an amazing job leading us out. At some stage I thought it might be silver, but I the Canadians were just amazing and bronze is great."
Light Men's Double
The GB men overcame a snakebitten spring and summer to win gold, albeit by a bowball, over an NZ crew that threw everything they had at the Brits, but it wasn't quite enough. The NZ crew was crushed by the loss, while the veteran Italians were very happy with bronze. It didn't come easy for the GB crew, tho; stroke Mark Hunter lost his lunch in the boat once, and on the dock twice.
Interview with Elia Luini, Italian LM2x
Question: how many teams have you been on?
Luini: in 1997 I started at the world championships, on fourteen teams. In the final Olympics, gold, in Athens, no final, final B.
How many medals?
In Olympics, three gold medals, and in world championships, two second place, and four third place.
Question: do you feel like all your years help you in a race this close?
Yes, yes. Because now the race is very competitive. I remember in 2001 and 2002, I was still with Pettinari, and we would start fast, and I could view the other boats. Now, the level is higher.
In the last 15 strokes, what were you thinking?
I thought yesterday, Germany yes, but not now.
Interview with Storm Uru, NZ LM2x
Question: Well guys it was close but not quite today, but you certainly did go wondering if you put it all out of the course.
Storm Uru Yea, we had a pretty good idea of what they were going to try and do to us out here today. We covered the first 1500 but didn't quite have the juice to get us over the line first.
Question: It was pretty close all the way but you could you feel them coming over that last 500?
Storm Uru Yeah we had about a canvas coming into the last 400-450 meter and they were really pushing up on us. You know, we were trying to respond but we just didn't quite have it and gave it a good last go from about the last 150 meters to the line. We got nearly even with them but they just every time seemed to respond to us and we just couldn't get in front.
Question: So when did it start to hurt the most?
Storm Uru I don't know. The whole way, the intensity was just so high. It was absolutely knackered but every stroke going was intense when I was approaching the final. We really wanted to carry on with what everyone else was doing, you know, the gold medals. Really not quite fast enough.
Question: It's a shame, Great Britain obviously getting you on the line. I guess the others one but you prefer it wasn't you that they did it too.
Storm Uru Yeah, they were out in front of us gives us confidence and going fast enough. The end of the day, you know, at the world champs, the top two or three spots is always separated by less than a second. With 500 to go, they kept throwing at us, and I just couldn't respond to it. We need to work on for next year. We pulled up another thousandth from last year and now we've gone a lot quicker . Now we know what we need to work on for next year.
Question: So do you think you could have tackled this race differently? What do you think the ideal race with what you've been training today?
Storm Uru Like every race done in a period over in Europe, we've taken a step up and close another case of it. Every single day we try to work on our race. And we did that again today. We've got a really strong second 500 but they just didn't respond to us. What else can you do instead except put it on the line?
Question: Next year is another year and you guys are obviously looking damn good at the moment, so not too much more, just a little bit more. You know, you've got to be tougher than most.
Storm Uru You know every time comes into Olympic year something else creeps up. This year is done and gone. We're in a good spot going into the Olympic year. .4 of a second off of the fastest crew. It's close enough to winning and it's all about what we do between now and August. It really determines how the last four years has gone.
Question: Would you trade your missing out on a gold in the World Champs for an Olympic gold?
Storm Uru I'll tell you what I'd trade everything I own for that, for the Olympic gold medal. As long as we're learning everyday and we're getting faster.
Question: Exactly. I know it hurts today but down the track when you look back at this perhaps it's a good learning experience for you.
Storm Uru You kind of learn more in your biggest defeats. Today was gut wrenching. Absolutely gut wrenching. We've got to take a lot more out of this year than last year. Getting your ass absolutely caned on our own waters. This year really stepped up and it was close, but not close enough. That's going to give us our motivation for next year.
Question: Do you feel like this is an improvement over last year?
Storm Uru Remarkable. Remarkable improvement.
Question: Inside the boat, what is the big difference?
Storm Uru Well, we've been to a bit of adversity this year and this year coming out on top. Last year we didn't respond well to adversity. It's pretty much the difference. We came to do it as a team this year and we've got a solid play form going into next year.
Question: Do you feel like this could have gone either way today?
Storm Uru You know we did everything we could. They responded to everything we gave them. So, you know, they won today, we've wanted it to go a different way. But they've covered us every time today, hats off to them.
Question: Do you think this fuel to the fire over ten months training?
Storm Uru (Laughing) I think I've talked about winning what you really want to win and motivation towards a medal over what we got today. The goal is what it is.
Zac Purchase (GBR) – Gold
"It was a tough race. We knew that we could win and we never been nervous by the pressure from the kiwis. When they were in front of us at the halfway mark we were confident and knew that we could beat them in the second part of the race."
Uru Storm (NZL) – Silver
"This was our best race, it was just not enough today. They were faster. I am really disappointed. Might appreciate the silver later."
Elia Luini (ITA) – Bronze
"We didn't have the best start, but still managed to be with the field. At the end it was a race for third with Germany. On the last strokes I only thought it was Germany ahead yesterday, but not today. It's great to be on the podium. Only one more year to go. The winter will be hard, but we hope to be back in the double next year and hope we showed our federation that we should be the double."
For the second year in a row, a relatively diminutive (she is about 5'9" I would say) but upbeat and still fierce sculler won the women's single – last year it was Frida Svensson, this year it was Mirka Knapkova's turn. Knapkova's success this year dates back to the Dad Vail, of all places, where she beat Karsten for the first time this summer. Previously, Knapkova had a collection of fourth place Worlds finishes, topped off by a silver in 2006. This year she took it all, and the joy she felt was palpable.
Interview with Mirka Knapkova
I can't believe it, it is amazing, it is my first winning, I am so happy. I think that the conditions was very good, and it was fantastic.
Did you know that you were two seconds behind and then you won?
I didn't look the first half of the race, and then I took a look at my competitors, and I decided to move forward.
You have had a great summer starting back in Philadelphia; how do you look back on the summer?
Yes, I think this season was very hard, very difficult, because during winter, I had a lot of absence from training, so spring was very difficult, but I trained hard, and prepared with my other colleague, so it makes the result.
How did you find the extra speed after a bad winter?
Maybe the change in boat; I feel very comfortable in this boat. And also my coach and my other coach helped me with technique and strong performance, so this maybe helped me.
With 10 strokes to go, did you think you had it?
Well, maybe five meters, because I know Ekaterina, she is really fast at the finish, so I waited until the finish to check the result.
Interview with Emma Twigg, NZ
Interviewer: The world champs, you really gave it to them and made them come get you.
Yeah, that was the aim. I had a pretty average semifinal yesterday, so we wanted to go out and take them, but unfortunately I just didn't have the legs in the final 500.
Question: could you feel them coming?
Ah, yeah, it's kind of an ominous feeling when they are approach rather rapidly, and the line isn't coming as quickly as I'd like it to. I think I spent a little bit too much in the first 1000 and didn't quite hang on. Knapkova has been in great shape this regatta; you know I came here to qualify, and we did that, and to be where I was last year, if not a little bit faster, it's great looking forward to London.
Ekatarina Karsten (BLR) – Silver
"It was a hard race. In the final with the six fastest women you never know what will happen. I wanted to do the start well, but Emma and Mirka got ahead. I tried to move up, which worked with Emma, but not with Mirka. I wanted gold, but today Mirka was fast. There's still next year."
Overall Medal Tally
The GB won a total of 14 medals at these worlds, including seven golds; in fact, every GB sweep rower won a medal – woah. Australia was second with three golds among 10 medals, and NZ third with four golds among nine medals. Germany and Italy also each had nine medals, followed by Canada with five, the US with four, and France and Denmark with three.
The US effort is widely seen as well off standard, due in some measure part to the perception created by failing to qualify the men's eight, and the lack of any medals on the men's side – with the very unusual and crucial note of the light men missing Olympic qualification in both the four and double. Overall the US won four medals, and with a couple fourth place finishes today, wasn't far off six medals, which would actually be a very good year for the US, overall. The expected soul-searching and hard, official assessments are already underway in the US camp, although it is too soon to say what will come of it. The big picture does depend a lot on that eight, tho, doesn't it? Make it a bronze in the men's eight, and with a fourth in the four and a qualification in the pair, you have a decent year. The US should be able to fix this problem given the history in the eight-man boat; we'll have to see what they come up with.
Notes from the course:
Any thoughts out there about the new racing schedule of four days of finals? FISA has said clearly that this is an experiment, and are looking for feedback from athletes, media, and other 'stakeholders,' which would include rowing fans of course. Maybe post in comments below, and we can pass on anything particularly cogent.
One consequence of the change is that the athlete party probably won't be as quite off the hook as it usually gets, as many crews and even entire teams have already gone home, having finished racing on Thursday or Friday.
We did 15 interviews yesterday and 13 more today, all of which we transcribed for the reports, and it has been positive, entertaining, and a little strange to see the 'row2k interviews' we conducted show up in the press worldwide - the FISA folks have also asked that we have questions ready for all the formal press conferences to help get things rolling and avoid awkward silences, which has been fun. Everyone doing their part is how it all hangs together for the sport of rowing.
Check out this photo – the shadow of the blade shows on the swan in the moment before impact. The swan got hit pretty hard, but swam away without much more than a shrug; these are big, thick birds.
There were a few babies up on the dock this year, including one with mom , and one with Dad , and some doing what kids will do at times.
At the end of the regatta, FISA conducts a ceremony thanking the organizer of the current regatta (the Bled folks did a fantastic job), and presenting the FISA flag to the next host – in this case, Korea in 2013. But beyond the folks in that ceremony, not one athlete's mind is looking past 2012, and not because of Mayan calendar predictions. It's London or bust from here out.
And so ends row2k's coverage; we did tens of thousands of words, thousands of photos, 40 videos, a heap of blogs and bigger heaps of news, and more; we're completely gassed, but we enjoyed it, and hope you did as well. Congrats and well done to all the crews, thanks to all the bloggers who shared their World experience with us, and thanks to everyone who helped and to the superb Bled folks. It's a wrap!!