Getting to London, Final Look posted by: John FX Flynn (September 4, 2011)
USA M4x making sure they are 'On to London'
Final installment of row2k's daily look at which US crews are On to London, and which are now Facing Final Qualification.
On to London: W4x, W2-, W8, M4x, M2-, M1x, M4-, LW2x The US didn't collect any more spots on the final day, and so the team returns from Bled with 8 guaranteed spots for London, out of the 14 Olympic events they entered.
How is that as a tally? Obviously, not nearly enough for the athletes in the six boats that didn't make the cut--and particularly bad if you happen to be a lightweight male Olympic hopeful--but here is some context:
Great Britain qualified 13, the most of any nation in their run-up to the home Olympics. Team GB missed only in the W1x, and there just barely when Frances Houghton finished one place shy. Germany also went after all 14 events and gobbled up 12 spots, with just the women's eight and pair falling short (somewhat inexplicably).
New Zealand and Australia entered fewer events, but like GB, also qualified all but one: the Kiwis went 11 for 12, faltering in the M8, and the Aussies went 10 for 11, with just Nick Hudson in the single running into trouble.
The US total of eight ranks next, tied with China (which also went 8 for 14) followed by the seven spots collected by Canada and Italy, both of which missed in three of the ten events they contested: Canada falling short in the LM4-, W2-, and W2x; Italy in the M2x, M1x, and W4x. (China, for the record, missed in both eights, the M2-, M2x, M4-, and M4x).
Facing Final Qualification: M2x, LM4-, LM2x, M8+, W2x, W1x Any US athletes hoping to race in these events at the London Games will have to win their respective trials in early spring, then head to Lucerne in the late spring and secure a podium-worthy performance--or better--before a summer in London is even an option. Whoa: no wonder one New Zealand paper is already calling the Final Qualifier the "regatta of death." Here, again, is just how high the stakes are for each crew:
Men's eight: must finish first Men's double: must finish top two Women's double: must finish top two Women's single: must finish top three Light Men's four: must finish top two Light Men's double: must finish top two
Of course it is hard to say just who the competition will be, but it is a good bet that the competition will be stiff. New Zealand's eight is already planning to go and it is hard to imagine Canada's lightweight four skipping the Olympics altogether. Add to that a host of European sculling nations, and that weekend in Lucerne promises to be a heater.
Paralympic Qualification On the Adaptive side, which we've also been watching, the criterion in all four events was a top-eight finish, so the US won two spots there, when the LTAMix Four and Ron Harvey, in the ASM1x, made the A Finals.
In the other two events, the ASW1x and TAMix2x, the US adaptive athletes made the B Final, but finished in 10th and 9th respectively, so those boats will need to be qualified with a good result next summer in order to make it to the Paralympics.
Olympic Qualification Summary - USA (Final) 14 Olympic Events total In = 8 - W4x, W2-, W8, M4x, M2-, M1x, M4-, LW2x Out = 6 - M2x, LM4-, LM2x, M8+, W2x, W1x
World Champions!! posted by: Jamie Redman (September 4, 2011)
Celebrating World Championship
Six minutes, three seconds: the past ten months of training, the hundreds of kilometers on the water, the gallons and gallons of sweat… and it all came down to the six minutes and three-point-six-five seconds. The competition was tight, and the rowing wasn’t always pretty, but when those six-odd minutes were over, it was the American bowball that crossed the finish line first.
At the close of our prerace pep talk, Coach reminded us of Olympic qualification. “Just try to get top five,” he said, only half-joking. We were strong and fast enough to contend for the gold, he told us, but if a catastrophe should occur (as it did in 2003), we should fight to the death for that fifth qualifying position. So when we crossed the 500m mark in fifth place, I suppose Coach might’ve worried that we took his final advice a little too seriously!
Great Britain, Netherlands, Canada, Romania, and China were all extremely fast off the start, and the first few minutes found us in the back of the pack (eek!). However, Mary kept us from panicking or becoming frazzled. Our lane was right in between Great Britain and Canada; the two English-speaking coxswains could’ve rattled our concentration, but we had prepared for the distractions during our pre-race visualization… amidst all the yelling coxswains and splashing oars and cheering spectators, Mary’s voice was the only sound we heard. And because all eight rowers were absolutely focused on their coxswain, when she told us to move, we MOVED!
Gradually, seat by seat, we worked our way back through the field. We pushed our way through Great Britain and the Netherlands, but the Canadian crew was determined to hold our charge. As we crossed the 1500m mark, we were neck and neck. I don’t remember too much of the next ninety-seconds: exercise-induced amnesia, if you will. My lungs were burning, I couldn’t feel my legs, I heard Mary call for the final build, and I just prayed that we would make it to the line before my arms fell off!
But all of our training paid off during that final sprint, and the Americans earned the gold medal by point-seven seconds! An absolutely thrilling race!
As we stood on the medals dock and listened to the national anthem, I felt so honored and proud to be wearing the red, white, and blue. This 2011 Final was a telling preview of the tight and intense racing we can expect at the 2012 Olympics. This was not an easy victory for the Americans: Canada fought us for every single inch. In fact, every boat in our final displayed impressive speed and racing strategy, as evidenced by the tight margins between first and fifth place. We will have to work especially diligently during the next eleven months to defend our title!
What’s on tap for the next few weeks? Well, under the new Worlds schedule, there are still two days of finals. So I plan to cheer on my teammates, enjoy the sunshine, and sample Bled’s many tourist attractions. Then Mom and I are off for a week’s tour of the Slovenian Alps (!!), before I head back to New Jersey to recommence training. Thank you so much for all your messages and positive support! I could not have achieved this success without all your encouragement!
P.S. I just discovered that I might or might not have added the wrong postage to all my postcards. Oops. But never fear, they should arrive by Christmas…