Boom! On the last day of the 2010 Worlds, the US Women's Eight mowed down the field for the Gold, and in doing so provided somewhat of a silver lining (no pun intended) for the US experience here. The US Women rowed as dominant a race as I've seen in the eights at a Worlds, winning by a little bit of open water, but both athletes and coach Tom Terharr were quick to point out that the win was more valued than the margin; the athletes are not expecting to be this far ahead of the pack as the Olympic Games draw closer.
"We knew that the Canadians would have a very fast start, and that the Dutch and the Romanians would have a very good charge at the end, so we just wanted to get into our rhythm and inch by inch get closer to the finish line," said coxswain Mary Whipple after the race. "We knew it would take the whole 2000 meters, so we just stuck to the plan. I don't know how we did it, but I know we did it together."
"You plan for it to be close," said Terharr. "We told the athletes, it's early in the cycle, don't get used to it. It was a great race for them; they're very fit, so if they get off with everyone, they have the endurance to finish. We don't set the bar off of coming in first, we set the bar off of 'how good are you now, and how much better can you be?' These are young kids, they can be much better. We had a good day today, I want to make sure that if we have a bad day, we can still get a medal."
This makes it five straight for the US Women's 8+, but no one we talked to here seemed to place much stock in streaks; everyone is looking ahead.
For the US Men's Eight, 6th place in the final ended what by all accounts had been a very succesful preparation on a sour note; coaches and athletes could not offer a specific reason for the result.
"I have no explanation for this result," said Men's Eight coach Kris Korzeniowski. "We had a great preparation with this boat."
Outside of the Women's Eight, today's racing was probably more frustrating for US crews than anything else; the Women's Double of Katie Bertko and Stesha Carle finished 5th, while the Men's Lightweight Eight and Julie Nichols in the Women's Lightweight Single all finished last in their Finals today.
The US also had two crews in action in the B-Finals this morning; US Light Me's Single Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg finished 4th in his race for 10th place overall, while Warren Anderson and Glenn Ochal capped a strong week here with a win in the Petite, for 7th overall.
Germany had the golden-est day today, winning the Men's 8+, Lightweight 8+ and Women's Lightweight Single. Racing in that Light Single was Marie-Louise Draeger, who also won the Lightweight Women's quad yesterday, making her the only double gold-medallist here. Germany might also be the Italians of the moment in lightweight rowing, winning four gold medals in the non-olympic lightweight events, silver in the light women's double and coming in 4th in the Men's Light Four.
Pretty good story that we heard this week was of a combined team training camp where the lightweight eight took a few pieces from that country's heavyweight eight, to the point where the heavies needed an intervention from the team shrink. In the end it all worked out, as both eights medalled here today.
The hosts New Zealand bagged 11 medals overall, enough to put them second to the GB in the overall medals table, with Germany 3rd. Any angle you take on the NZ performance is impressive; they just about ruled the small boats, with wins in both pairs and the men's double, podium in both open singles and the women's lightweight single. In addition, a number of lesser-known/underhyped NZ crews over-achieved on the weekend, taking full advantage of the home track and any additional adrenaline/emotion that might have added.
The GB squad is firmly on track for their own hometown show on the Olympic raceourse in Eton in two years time, taking top honors in the medals table and showing some pretty fearsome depth across the board. GB crews added another Gold medal in the Women's Double today, as well as Silver in the Men's Eight and Men's Double
The US Women's Eight wore pink ribbons to honor 4-seat Taylor Ritzel's mother, who is currently battling cancer. The GB crews racing in the finals were also wearing black ribbons this week, in honor of "the late great Andy Holmes."
Former Aussie rower James Tomkins was honored with FISA's Thomas Keller medal for achievement in the sport of rowing today; beyond being a good guy, Tomkins has the distinction of having raced in 6 Olympics and having medalled in all 5 men's sweep boat classes at the World Championships.
I'd never seen this before, but apparently it's fairly common here in NZ; every car leaving the city of Cambridge, where the rowing venue is located, had to pass a breathalyzer on the way out of town yesterday, whew.
We've been here eight days now, and the general, earnest effort by the locals to put on a great regatta has not gone unnoticed. In fact, it was visible today when the Austrian Men's Lightweight Single rowed his Final in a borrowed NZ uni (with tape over the country name). As we reported earlier in the week, the Austrian teams bags were stolen early in their stay here in NZ, so the Kiwi team pitched in and loaned the Austrian athletes some gear for the regatta.
It was also an earnest effort by NZ to put on a worlds that could "measurably" compete with others; the last press release we got as we closed down the media center for the 8th straight day was the announcement that this Worlds had set a record for cumulative attendance, at just over 66,000 for the 8 days of rowing.
(Our own thanks also to Rob Bristow for his assistance, good humor and unflagging good cheer throughout the week!)
Thus ends our coverage of the 2010 Rowing World Championships; we hope that you have enjoyed the coverage from New Zealand, it has been our pleasure bringing it to you!
Race 155 - Women's Lightweight Single Sculls (LW1x)
Marie-Louise Draeger (GER) – Gold
"This was great and my kind of conditions with a bit of a head wind. Everything went as I had imagined. I wanted to go out fast and be in front and that worked out. It might have looked like I had a big lead, but I was panicking a bit that the Italian might still come up. But the second 1000m are my strong part and I had a good finish. Only on the last 250m I felt that it might have been all a bit fast. The crowd gave me the final kick. I wanted to be in the single this year to have a bit of a break and this was supported by our head coach, but I plan to be the fastest lightweight in Germany again next year and want to be back in the double then."
Louise Ayling (NZL) – Silver
"I only knew right at the end that I had come second when I heard the announcement. It wasn't my perfect race, because I had some trouble at the start. But I powered on through. The crowd got me home."
Laura Milani (ITA) – Bronze
"I was very focused on my race and half way I had hoped to be second like last year in Poznan. At the end I'm happy with the third place, because I was very tired. I didn't know where I had finished and had to wait for the results to come up on the scoreboard to be sure that I had won a medal."
Race 156 - Men's Lightweight Single Sculls (LM1x)
Marcello Miani (ITA) – Gold
"I don't know how my race was, because I only turned my head at 200m from the finish line. And at this moment I was sure of my victory. Before the race I was confident and I hoped to win and I felt very good this morning. It was easier because Duncan Grant wasn't in the final."
Lukas Babac (SVK) – Silver
"I felt really good, this is my seventh race this week and I'm really satisfied with this result. I jumped off the boat at the end to go celebrate with my friends."
Peter Galambos (HUN) – Bronze
"The first 1000m I enjoyed the race, the 2nd 1000m I was expecting a tail wind but got a head wind. Unfortunately my equipment suited a tail wind so I was a little disappointed."
Race 157 - Lightweight Men's Eight (LM8+)
Lars Wichert (GER) – Gold
"It was awesome! We raced very hard on the start. The middle was the best and at the finish we went for the sprint. It was amazing we've only rowed a few times together in New Zealand, so this achievement was great for us."
Darryn Purcell (AUS) – Silver
"We did this for Ben, who we had to replace at short notice. It was tough to loose a guy, but Ben was still there with us during the race and great to have a silver medallist fill in with Blair. It was a good race and we moved when we wanted. The Germans were just better today."
Blair Tunevitsch (AUS) – Silver
"Ben just gave me my second World Championship medal. It was great to be part of this team and it's good to see Australia on the podium twice for the lighties."
Davide Riccardi (ITA) – Bronze
"I'm not too disappointed, because I knew the wind was very strong in our lane and in this conditions it's good to be third. The Australian and German crews are teams of big value and it was difficult to get in, but we hoped during the whole race we could win. But now third is ok as well, that's sport."
Race 158 - Women's Double Sculls (W2x)
Kathryn Grainger (GBR) – Gold
"From all the results this year we were quietly confident coming into this race, but we also knew that we had to bring our best race. And we are pleased with the result."
Anna Watkins (GBR) - Gold
"The crowd is so loud, you can't help but race your game on that last 500m."
Kim Crow (AUS) – Silver
"Great race and I'm very pleased with the result. Kerry just pulled me down the course. We had planned to just row our race and stay internal. It was a really tough race and the British girls were awesome. I think the doubling up in the quad worked in our favour. This is our first regatta together and instead of one race we had five under our belt. It was also really important to have Sally and Brooke there on our team."
MagdalenaFularczyk (POL) – Bronze
"The wind was very hard on my shoulder. We have only been training together for four months because I had an operation on my leg so the race was quite hard. Next year we hope to train for ten months before coming to Bled."
Julia Michalska (POL) – Bronze
"This is only our second start after the European Rowing Championships, but we were always in the medals, which is good."
Race 159 - Men's Double Sculls (M2x)
Nathan Cohen (NZL) – Gold
"It's an awesome feeling. I can't even describe it. It hasn't even sunk in. We could hear everyone yelling, so we had full blinkers on and we were sprinting for the finish line. We always wanted this day to happen, but with the quality of the competition we didn't know. It's a dream come true for Joe and I."
Joseph Sullivan (NZL) – Gold
"We stuck to what we decided and didn't let anything phase out. We did everything to plan."
Matthew Wells (GBR) – Silver
"This has been our best ever world performance. We were confident for 75% of the race. We went through all our gears, but the Kiwis started another gear at the end. The crowd helps with the last bit."
Marcus Bateman (GBR) – Silver
"We didn't expect the Kiwis to go up at the end. We were level most of the way and we pushed and pushed -- at 1000m, at 500m, at 250m."
Cederic Berrest (FRA) – Bronze
"We don't have many regrets on the race. We struggled with the New Zealanders and the British in the first part of the race, but we couldn't start with them when the battle began partly because we were in lane 1, a long way away from them. In the last quarter it was too late. We continued to attack, but we knew it was impossible to win. We were also sure of our bronze medal, because we knew that we had a big gap on the other crews."
Race 160 - Women's Eight (M8+)
Taylor Ritzel (USA) – Gold
"My mum is battling cancer at the moment and we are all wearing pink ribbons. She is watching at home at the computer. She is my inspiration and I was thinking of her stroke by stroke."
Esther Lofgren (USA) – Gold
"We realised we could do it at the 1000m mark. We just pushed and pushed."
Mary Whipple (USA) – Gold
"We got into our rhythm and I made them shove it inch by inch. We achieved our goal and we supported each other internally."
Andreanne Morin (CAN) – Silver
"We had a good race. We executed well and it was a good fight with the US. And for this new crew we are quite excited for the years to come."
Leslie Thompson-Willie (CAN) - Silver
"It was a good solid 500. We felt comfortable where we were. We were trying to attack the US, but I think they were too strong for us."
Eniko Mironcic (ROU) – Bronze
"We had a very good start, but we lost the race in the second 500m. USA and Canada were too strong for us. We hoped to win, but we won a medal and we are happy with that because we are a very young crew. It's the second year we row together and I think we will improve our level for the Olympic Games."
Race 161 - Men's Eight (M8+)
Sebastian Schmidt (GER) – Gold
"This was an awesome race by all crews. Everybody fought endlessly and we had the lucky end. It was pretty much a head on head race for the whole way and we only managed to get a small lead towards the end. It was all much tighter than last year. The field was great with more very strong boats. You can tell that the Olympic Games are coming up."
Phelan Hill (GBR) – Silver
"I think today was a fantastic race. All credit to the Germans, especially in the last 250m. Before the race we had said that we would have no regrets when we came off the water. This is a four year project to the Olympics. So perhaps not gold today, but silver is very respectable."
Cameron McKenzie-McHarg (AUS) – Bronze
"It was close all the way down, but we stayed internal and we executed our plan. A podium finish is a good start to our 2012 campaign and we are looking forward to coming strong."
Toby Lister (AUS) – Bronze
"The Germans got a good quick start and we were unable to peg them back."