Very long day of finals today, hard to know exactly where to start, so I'll start right in by taking the long view.
But first, more from Mr. Roboto
Conditions: HOT, with temps predicted at around 34 degrees (high 90s), and a light cross-headwind early that strengthened a bit as the day wore on. The waves never got too bad, but it was choppy enough that some crews struggled at points.
The crowd for the racing was formidable today, with an estimated 27,000 in attendance including athletes. The banks were full from the finish line all the way to the starting line; it looked like Henley out there. There are neighborhoods just on the other side of the levee that contains the course, and the locals just strolled across the two-lane road, down the steps of the levee, and sat down on the banks. All rowing races should be so lucky; maybe a "free above the 750m or 1000m mark" policy would work; make it really easy for people to go see rowing.
A stronger headwind and rain are expected tomorrow; as a result, racing has been moved up 45 minutes from a 9:30 start. Racing will now start at 8:45 local time, and the B finals will be raced on five-minute centers; the A finals, which will now start at 9:30, will be on the normal 15 minute centers to allow for medal ceremonies.
National squad of the day: the New Zealand squad, with no less than four medals, all of them gold. They also occurred in four consecutive races, so it was all N Zed, all the time, for a good hour.
The FISA Athlete's Commission ruled today that all of the world's records set thus far will be wiped from the record books due to the significant river flow on the Nagarawa. The ruling:
Based on the recommendation of the FISA Athletes Commission, the FISA Council determined that race times recorded on regatta courses with a significant water mass flow will not be considered as World Best Times.
Based on this principle, the race times recorded at the 2005 World Championships in Gifu, Japan will not be considered and the World Best Times up until these Championships will be returned to the record books.
The FISA Council and relevant Commissions will start a study to determine the threshold level of water mass flow for future FISA Events.
The FISA Council
3 September 2005
One observer mused the following: "Interesting that it's the athlete's commission, innit? I wonder how many of them have their names on some of those records?" Idle speculation of course, and said in jest; long day, as I said, have to keep the mind occupied.
On the US side, Michelle Guerrette continued to fill the cup after a long dry spell for the US in the women's single. After becoming the first US woman to make the A final in the event since 1996, Guerrette today became the first woman since 1998 to win a medal in the event since 1988.
Just after getting off the water, I asked if she was surprised to find herself headed for the medal stand. "Yeah, I am surprised; I had to try to fake myself out a little bit that I should be here, but it's hard to forget that you're out there racing Olympic champions!"
More from Michelle: "I am so psyched," said Guerette after the race. "This whole racing week has been kind of a mystery. I didn?t know what was going to happen. I was training for Lucerne and got injured, so I just stayed in Boston to cross-train and then get back on the water as soon as I could. I just wanted to race every race hard, improve on something each race and just take each race to the next level."
And paraphrasing slightly, as the row2k microphone failed us: "Training in Boston, I was always racing against guys, so I was used to trying to punch out at the start, go really hard. We found out after a while that my fastest 500 was always my second 500, and then I would lose some speed. Today we thought if we could keep the speed going a bit in the third 500, and stay with the leaders, that might put me in a good position."
In the semis, Guerrette felt that she had a good third 500, but was rowing "a little bit scrappy" while duking it out with Sophie Balmary of France. "We tried to take the same approach, but maybe stay a little more calm, row a little better."
It seemed to work, and Guerrette earned herself a bronze. Asked if she would stay in the single, Guerrette said "I really do like the single, it has been really interesting to row, so maybe!"
Karsten almost walked away with the event; she had 1/2 length open on the field at around 300 meters in. Ratings in the stiffening headwind were low; Karsten rowed much of the middle of the race at 29-30; Michelle was around 31; the Czech sculler ranging from 29-31.
The disappointment of the day for the US squad had to be the men's four, which may have had some health issues this week on which I'll probably be able to report in tomorrow's final Worlds update.
The women's pair also looked really good in the first 1000 meters, but struggled considerably in the second 1000. The crew doubled up in the eight, and the schedule was compressed as well, requiring them to row two reps on the same day on Wednesday. The level of rowing in the A final in the pair is insanely high already, and seasoned vets with fresh pins have enough trouble; you never know how hard Worlds are until you've rowed it, and it seemed to prove a little too fast for two newcomers with slightly heavy legs. The upside is that these two extremely promising rowers got a heap of racing experience here in Japan; probably won't hurt in the long run.
There were some steaming events out there today, even in non-Olympic events. For example, every sculler in the light women's single has won at least one international medal.
In the men's single, Drysdale of the NZ, he of the rower-hit-by-water-skier accident earlier this year, ran away with a surprise win in the final. Olaf Tufte, who had to be thinking the race was in his reach this year, once again showed himself to be an exception sportsman in taking silver; he prodded the Czech sculler to hoist Drysdale aloft on the medal platform. Tufte's comments on the race:
"Drysdale today was amazing, he was good; he was surviving the waves from boats out there... he was the best man today, no doubt! He is a real champion. "
"I had a really tough year this year with illness and media stress. I can't be disappointed after the races this weekend; I really thought I would be able to have this race, but today, it was too fast for me."
Asked if he planned to race in the double, Tufte said "There are four people in the country who are rowing for fun, so for now I'm in the single."
Hacker had a bad day; apparently he hit a log near the 1000, lost his fin, and spent the rest of the race skidding around; he then ended up in the drink at the finish line, his boat floating back up the course in the headwind. That's three times in six years Hacker has ended up in the water.
The Greek lighweight single sculler was way better than anyone else out there; he made it look easy, and left the rest of the field to bring in a nasty scrap over the scraps of the medals.
The light eight included a disappointing two entries today; as a result, apparently the status of the event, which was spared from elimination last winter (as reported on row2k), will be sent back to committee. One does wonder why inclusion on the Olympic docket would almost gut the numbers rowing at the elite level.
The adaptive events were contested for medals today; the event is coming along, albeit slowly, with the best crews doing a pretty good job, but the overall level of competitiveness still considerably off the mark. For now, at least they're out there and it is happening; here's to rapid and widespread improvement in the racing.
Quote and more quotes: Verzotti, ITA M2+, on rowing in Olympic class boats: "I have done this before but for this non-Olympic year, this was a chance to row in an international event. Of course, over the next years, it will become more of a priority to qualify for an Olympic boat. I already tried this for the M8 for Athens last year."
Sam Conrad, AUS 2+: "We were disappointed that only three crews were participating, but both other crews here are quite strong, especially Italy. It was a good experience. We are still young. We both hope to be in the eight next year, and through until Beijing."
Luzuy-Dorfman, FRA LW1x, on stopping rowing for several years: "Yes, after Sydney, as i had two children, a girl and a boy." On coming back to rowing: "With the children it was good to sometimes have a break and be alone, so i got back in a boat every now and then. I went to the French championships, and it went well, so one thing led to another and I came back. I started training again in July 2004. It's too early to think about Beijing, we will see how things go with the children."
Marit van Eupen, NED LW1x, on plans to go back in the 2x: "I do a lot of training in the single. I like the single, so it was not a problem to change. The coach decided at the last moment to let me start in the single. I was at my best speed in the single when I was training in the double. I also do a lot of training with young athletes, and enjoy that very much. I am already thinking about Beijing, but will take it step by step. I will not go back into last year's double; it was a very good double, but it is in the past."
Fabrice Moreau, FRA LM1x: "It was really hard. I came into the last 500 meters a length behind 2nd and 3rd, but I know from my previous races that I am capable of coming back in the last 500 to 250 meters so I was counting on that, and it is what helped. It's what I wanted to do, and it's what I did, so I'm happy. I had a stress fracture on my ribs earlier this season, so to get to this result is great!"
Martino Goretti, LM8 ITA: "Racing against only one other is not very motivating, but we only found out about it late, and we had done the training and prepared at our best during the year. We did a great result in Lucerne, 8 seconds ahead of Ireland. Due to this and the distance, this may have prevented others from coming. Other crews may have been a bit scared, as we have proven that we would be hard to beat. I know the USA eight did selections to come here, but didn't finish in the required time. So this is a reward for our season's efforts. Other crews may have been a bit scared, as we have proven that we would be hard to beat."
Kerstin Neumann, GER W4: "Our goal was to be in the W8+, not being selected was hard in the first moment. But as we saw that we had a good chance for a good result it was not so bad anymore. We are very pleased with this 2nd place. For Beijing, the goal is to be in the W8+ as international events are considered second class in Germany, but really, what are we rowing for? For success and not for money!"
Nicky Cole, NZL W2: How can you explain the success of New Zealand this year? "Our coach, Richard Tonks, he's an incredibly hard coach. He has worked very, very hard with us here, but is has so paid off. He's awesome. We just worked so hard, but it's been fantastic!"
You only raced one other time on Monday, how did you spend your time here? "We still did a bit of training, watching TV, and just trying to relax, trying to do not too much shopping! Just take time to relax and think about our race."
Finally, the Brit-centric announcer comment of the day, in reference to a bucketed four: "The bow woman is also on strokeside."
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