The Rio Olympic Games – review

Rio 2016

Now that the dust has well and truly settled after an enthralling Olympic Games, I thought it was time to have a look back and review the Olympic regatta (and see how my predictions panned out).

The Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas certainly made life interesting, when the wind blew it resembled something out of “The Perfect Storm” and claimed more than one victim.

SRB M2- capsize.jpg

The Serbian M2- capsized during their heat

But, when the weather gods played nice it was a truly stunning venue to hold a regatta. Overall I think the racing was very fair and by the time the finals came around the conditions weren’t a factor.

Overall I don’t think any of the major rowing nations can come away from the Olympics fully satisfied. Great Britain may have finished top of the medal table with 3 golds and 2 silvers but this was one short of the minimum 6 medals that was their target. Sir David Tanner may have avoided some awkward conversations thanks to the quality, rather than quantity of his charges haul. UK Sport have already said there will be no “knee-jerk reaction” to getting 5 instead of 6 medals. It could well be that the unexpected silver medal won by Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley may have just secured the future funding of the British Rowing Team. But, this success can’t hide the more disappointing aspects of the British performances. The Lightweight team in particular had a very disappointing regatta. For the first time since the Athens Olympics none of the GB lightweights made the A-final. The M4X were unlucky to miss out on the medals having had to make a late crew change and the M2- may also be a little disappointed to miss the medals.

But, it wasn’t just the British who didn’t quite deliver as expected. The other rowing “super-power”, New Zealand also a somewhat mixed regatta. The M2- maintained their unbeaten run and Mahe Drysdale was involved in one of the best M1X races in the history of the Olympics. The Women’s pair also delivered a strong silver. But, as with the British there were some crews who didn’t quite hit the mark when it mattered. The W2x World Champions have looked out of sorts all season and Emma Twigg’s showdown with Kim Brennan never really materialised. Neither the World Champion LW2X nor the LM4- were in the hunt for the medals and the W8, strongly tipped to challenge for silver, also missed out. Questions are already being asked in the New Zealand media about the relative under-performance from their best funded Olympic sport.

The Germans successes in the men’s & women’s Quads will be some consolation to the men’s 8 losing to GB (again), but beyond that no other German crew reached the A-Final. The Americans took an expected gold in the W8 and Gevvie Stone took a brilliant silver in the W1X, but the much-vaunted W2- missed the medals and only one men’s heavyweight boat reached the final. The US’s no.1 men’s boat, the M4- were well off the pace in the semi-final finishing 8 seconds behind the winner.

So, how did my predictions get on….

 

M1X

Predicted: Gold New Zealand, silver Croatia, bronze Czech Republic

Actual: New Zealand, Croatia, Czech Republic

OK, feeling quite smug about this one, but what a race. The greyhound Damir Martin against the diesel-engine Mahe Drysdale. Martin did what he does best, get out quick and hang on. Mahe went off steadier, but when the torque of his engine got going it reeled the Croatian in. I really thought that with 150m to go Martin was done, but incredibly he had a sprint in him and wouldn’t let the Kiwi get away. In the end both were awarded the same time but the gold went to Drysdale by the narrowest of narrow margins, no more than 2cm after 2000m…that’s 0.001%…incredible. There was quite a lot of protesting on Twitter that both should’ve been awarded the gold and that somehow the photo-finish wasn’t accurate….basically nonsense. In the end, a wonderful race to watch, and, as seems likely, a fitting end to Mahe’s international career.

photo finish.jpg

The photo-finish of the M1X final

 

M2-

Predicted: Gold New Zealand, Silver Great Britain, Bronze The Netherlands

Actual: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy

No surprises about who would take gold. Murray and Bond end their pairs partnership after 8 years having never lost a race…incredible. They’ve just published their memoirs which should make fascinating reading, especially the relationship with former coach Dick Tonks. I’ve got a copy winging its way to me and I’ll post a review as soon as I’ve had a chance to read it. Anyway, back to the race. In the build up to the Olympics it looked likely that the British and Dutch would be the main challengers for a medal, but in the end the British just ran out of steam having been in the silver medal position with 500 to go. The Dutch looked out of sorts all regatta and failed to make the A-Final. Instead it was the South Africans, Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling who won the sprint for the line ahead of a delighted Italian crew. What’s most surprising about the Italian boat is that they are pretty much a scratch pair. The original combination were disbanded after Niccolo Mornati was banned for a doping offence. The Italians’ Marco Di Constanzo and Giovanni Abagnale had never competed internationally as a pair before Rio. A great result for the Azzuri.

 

M2X

Predicted: Gold Croatia, silver New Zealand, bronze Norway

Actual: Croatia, Lithuania, Norway

No great surprises about the winners here either, although the Sinkovic’s didn’t look as smooth or as convincing as they had in previous regattas. But, as the old adage goes, “make your worst better than your opponents best” and they held on to win. The surprise of the event were the silver medal Lithuanians. After an injury to Rolandas Mascinskas, I didn’t expect the new double of Griskonis and Ritter to be a significant threat, but threat they were, leading the Croatians with 500m to go and in the end losing out by just 1 second. A fabulous performance considering the late change to the line-up. It was also fantastic to see the “old man” Olaf Tufte win yet another Olympic medal at his 6th Games.

 

M4-

Predicted: Gold Great Britain, Silver Australia, bronze Italy

Actual: Great Britain, Australia, Italy

This was a classic GB v Aussie dual, just like in London and Beijing. The Australians gave it a real go in the 2nd 500m, drawing level with the British, but they couldn’t cope with the pace the British laid down in the 3rd 500. Britain’s flagship crew delivered when it mattered and won the 5th straight M4- title. No more to be said really, the top US and Canadian crews were disappointing and the 2015 World Champions from Italy ably played their bit-part role in the GB v Aussie showdown.

 

M4X

Predicted: Gold Australia, silver Germany, bronze Great Britain

Actual: Germany, Australia, Estonia

A bit of a disappointed for the Green & Gold. They had looked in stunning, almost unbeatable, form coming into the Olympics, whereas the World Champion Germans had had a very mixed season. But when it came to the crunch the Germans found their mojo and produced a stunning display of power sculling and led from the first to the last stroke. I was really disappointed for the Brits, so often they have looked on the verge of winning a major championship only to be thwarted by injury. And so it proved again in Rio. Graeme Thomas was ruled out with a virus before racing started and was replaced by Jack Beaumont. They raced brilliantly in the circumstances to make the final, but ran out of steam in the 2nd half. But, they’re a young crew and good things will come.

 

M8

Predicted: Gold Great Britain, silver Germany, bronze The Netherlands

Actual: Great Britain, Germany, The Netherlands

Another prediction I can feel pretty smug about! So, so pleased for the GB guys. They produced a superb row, very reminiscent of the Sydney 2000 win. They took the race by the scruff of the neck and were on it from the very first stroke. The Germans, by contrast, looked a little flat and I was surprised at the distance the British were able to open up on them. As it was the gold never looked in doubt but the Germans had a real battle on their hands to hold off the Dutch for the silver medal. So, in the end the British achieved what they set out to do, the emulated the German’s feat of winning all three world Championships and the Olympic gold in a single Olympiad. GB’s coach, Jurgen Grobler was overcome with emotion at the finish….it was another medal to add to his tally, his crews have won medals at every Olympics since 1972 (the only exception being LA in 1984 when East Germany didn’t attend), an astonishing record (and he shows no sign of stopping!)

 

W1X

Predicted: Gold Kim Brennan, silver Emma Twigg, bronze Gevvie Stone

Actual: Kim Brennan, Gevvie Stone, Jingli Duan

One of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups never really materialised. All the pre-Olympic talk had been the impending showdown between Kim Brennan of Australia and Emma Twigg of New Zealand. But in the end Twigg was outclassed by the Aussie. Instead, it was the USA’s Gevvie Stone who stepped up to challenge Brennan emulating the silver medal won by Michelle Guerette in Beijing. It was a big disappointed to the Kiwis that Twigg missed the podium altogether.

 

W2-

Predicted: Gold Great Britain, silver New Zealand, bronze USA

Actual: Great Britain, New Zealand, Denmark

In the build up to the Olympics much had been spoken of the US pair. They would be the ones to end the British domination of this event. Felice Mueller & Grace Luczak chose to race the pair over the W8 and really felt they could dethrone the British. But, if I’m being a little controversial here, I don’t think the US women row the pairs very well. The current US women are immensely powerful rowers, but they have a tendency to “bully” boats along, whereas for the smaller boats it takes a little more sensitivity and touch to make it fly. That’s what the British have, they are nowhere near as big or as powerful as their opposition but they row incredibly efficiently (most of the time!) They gave their fans a bit of a scare in the heat when they only just beat a superb Danish pair, but by the semi “normal service” had been resumed. The Danes, Hedvig Rasmussen and Anne Andersen, were, perhaps the stars of the event. Coming into the regatta they had shown no great form (only making the podium once before, in Lucerne 2015) but they raced superbly and gave the Brits a real run for their money in the heat. In the final they just ran out of steam and couldn’t hold off the fancied New Zealand pair for the silver medal.

 

W2X

Predicted: Gold New Zealand, silver Lithuania, bronze Poland

Actual: Poland, Great Britain, Lithuania

This was so nearly the fairy-tale ending for the British. After all the trials and tribulations, the break-ups and the tantrums, for this crew to get so close to gold was an incredible achievement that even the most jingoistic of GB supporters couldn’t have expected. For 1900 metres the gold looked like it was heading back to Britain, but the superb Polish crew timed their race to perfection and they reeled in the British and surged ahead in the closing stages for a deserved win. But all the attention was on the British. In the post-race interview Grainger said that this silver medal meant as much, if not more than her gold from London, because of everything she and Thornley went through. It is a fitting end to a superb athlete, five Olympic Games, four silver and one gold. Surely her CBE will be upgraded to a full Dame-hood in this year’s honours list. Hopefully Vicky Thornely will carry on with her international career and hasn’t been too battered and bruised by the experience this year. She is one of Britain’s most talented scullers and I reckon, if she’s given all the necessary support she could win some major medals in the W1X.

The Kiwis had a disappointing regatta in this event, their world championship winning double looked out of form all season and to miss the A-final was a big blow.

 

W4X

Predicted: Gold Germany, silver Poland, bronze The Netherlands

Actual: Germany, The Netherlands, Poland

The winner of this was never in doubt. The Germans have pretty much owned this boat class this year but they had a real fight on their hands in the final. With 1500m gone they were trailing the Poles by 1.5 seconds. For their part the Polish had clearly decided to go for broke and try and break the Germans. But in the sprint to the line the Germans pushed through and the Polish paid the price for their boldness losing the sprint for the silver to the Dutch.

 

W8

Predicted: Gold USA, silver Great Britain, bronze New Zealand

Actual: USA, GB, Romania

I’ve said before that I’m not a great fan of the way the Americans row eights, they give it an almighty heave at the finish…I’ve heard it described as “brute force and ignorance”. But, it’s impossible to argue with its effectiveness. The USA have not lost a World Championships or Olympic Games since 2005….that’s an 11 year winning streak, and a streak that shows no sign of ending (the US U23 W8 have just won their world title by 7 seconds in Rotterdam….ominous for the rest of the world). But, whilst the winners were never in doubt it was great to see the British finally deliver on the promise they’ve been showing in the past few seasons. This crew has been years in the making and their silver medal was the first ever W8 Olympic medal for a British crew. The bronze was a surprise. A lot of the talk heading into the regatta was on the Kiwi 8, it was going to be a battle between the British and the New Zealanders for the silver medal. But in the end it was the Romanians, the previous dominatrices of the W8 who stepped up and took the bronze. A great performance from a crew who had to qualify for Rio via the “Regatta of Death”.

 

LM2X

Predicted: Gold France, silver Ireland, bronze Great Britain

Actual: France, Ireland, Norway

Another event where the real story was in the lesser medals rather than the gold. France looked imperious throughout the regatta and led the final from start to finish. But, behind them it was a great race for the minor medals. I’ve really liked the look of the Irish all season and one of my boldest predictions was that the O’Donovan brothers would take the silver and they didn’t let me down! They also won the hearts of everyone who saw them in their post-race interview….it’s a true classic!

 

LM4-

Predicted: Gold New Zealand, silver Switzerland, bronze Great Britain

Actual: Switzerland, Denmark, France

A major disappointment for both the New Zealanders and the British. Both would’ve been expecting to be on the podium, but the New Zealanders finished 6 seconds off of bronze and the British didn’t even make the final. In the end it was a superb performance of lightweight fours racing by the Swiss and Danes in the fight for gold and silver. The Swiss followed up their world championship victory with an Olympic gold medal, the first medal of any colour in this event for the Swiss. Indeed, the first 3 places in Rio mirrored those of the 2015 World Championships. The big question now is; is this the last ever appearance of the LM4- at the Olympics? We shall see, but the omens do not look promising.

 

LW2X

No predictions made (ran out of time!)

Actuals: The Netherlands, Canada, China

A Dutch win at an international regatta is always a popular occasion as it triggers the mass swim by supporters to congratulate their crew. All the talk of the potentially lethal waters of the Lagoa didn’t dissuade the Dutch from continuing this tradition in Rio. Paulis and Head were a delight to watch, they moved the boat beautifully and looked in total control. Behind them, the Canadians restored some small sense of pride for the Cannucks who had, up till then, been having a dismal regatta. One of the major talking points of this event was who wasn’t among the medals. The British had a dismal regatta ending up 2nd in the C-Final (14th overall). The Kiwi World Champions faired a little better making the A-final but they were never in the hunt for the medals finishing over 4 seconds off bronze.

 

So that’s it….all in all I think it was a fabulous regatta. Lots of surprises and a good spread of medals. If, as I (and others) predicted the majority of golds were won by GB and NZ then the attention of the IOC could’ve been even sharper on rowing to increase its diversity. But, with 10 countries winning gold and 21 countries winning some colour of medal, it’s given the sport as a whole a big boost and may, just may, have saved it as an Olympic sport for the foreseeable future.

The Olympic Men’s Lightweight double preview

Time for a whistle-stop look at the entries for the LM2X

 

Angola

Angola: Andre Matias & Jean-Luc Rasamoelina

32nd in the World last year and qualified for Rio by finishing 2nd at the African Olympic Qualifying Regatta. They raced in Varese finishing 15th and Lucerne where they finished 13th out of 13.

 

Austria.jpg

Austria: Bernhard Sieber & Paul Sieber

2012’s U23 LM2X World Champions the Sieber brothers have yet to transfer that promise into the seniors. They’ve reached the A-Final at a few World Cups and their best ever result was 4th at the 2012 Europeans, but typically they are a mid-B Final crew.

 

Brazil.jpg

Brazil: Xavier Vela Maggi & Willian Giaretton

The home nation have only 2 crews entered and the LM2X won their spot by winning the Latin American Qualification Regatta. Vela Maggi is a highly experienced athlete having raced for Spain until 2013, including winning bronze in the LM2- in Lucerne that year. Now racing for Brazil he and Giaretton have shown good form this season finishing 10th in Lucerne and 9th in Poznan. A B final finish will be a good result.

 

chile.jpg

Chile: Felipe Cardenas Morales & Bernardo Guerrero Diaz

Chile took the final qualifying spot for Rio at the Latin American Qualifying Regatta. They finished 17th in the world last year and in Lucerne this season they had a great battle with the Brazilians, finishing just 8/10th second behind them in 10th. The fight between the Chileans and Brazilians for the top South American finish will be a great little sub-plot to the racing.

 

China-Flag-4

China: Man Sun & Chunxin Wang

The Chinese has a young crew, with 20 year old Sun, who finished 5th in the U23 LM1X last year joined by 18 year old Wang. They qualified for Rio by winning the Asia & Oceania Qualifying Regatta. A real unknown quantity but I’d be surprised if they finish any higher than the C-Final

 

Denmark Flag magnet

Denmark: Rasmus Quist & Mads Rasmussen

The defending Olympic champions, the Danes broke British hearts when they defeated Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter at Eton Dorney. The Danes took a break from rowing after London and a new combination was tried based around Henrik Stephansen. But in 2015 the Olympic Champions made a comeback on won selection. They had to secure qualification via the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta. On the water they were beaten by the Belgians, but because of the qualification rules only allowing 1 qualifier per gender via the FOQR Belgium were forced to choose between the LM2X and the M1X. They chose the latter and the Belgians miss out, but the defending champions get lucky. They raced at Varese and finished 6th. It will take something very, very special for the Danes to retain their title.

 

6917465-french-flag-wallpaper

France: Jeremie Azou and Pierre Houin

The hot favourites for gold. France are the reigning World Champions and followed that up with wins in Varese and Lucerne. They changed this, with U23 LM1X World Champion and World LM4X Champion, Pierre Houin replacing Stany Delayre. It was a bold move from the French, to change a gold medal line-up, but so far it looks to have been the right one. My picks to take take their first ever gold medal in the LM2X

Germany

Germany: Moritz Moos & Jason Osborne

A very talented young crew, U23 world champions in 2013 and 2014, they also won senior silver in the LM4X in 2013. They’ve had a few little injury niggles which has perhaps meant they haven’t quite delivered on the world stage as their talent suggest. But they qualified well, finishing 6th in Aiguebelette last year. So far this season they already have a medal, a silver from the European championships followed by a 7th place in Poznan. They are outside bets for a medal, but, if they stay healthy could be a gold medal favourite in Tokyo. I reckon they’ll take 5th or 6th in Rio.

 

union Jack

Great Britain: Will Fletcher & Richard Chambers

The 2015 World Silver medallists. Following on from Purchase & Hunter’s silver medal in London GB there is huge expectation on this partnership to deliver a medal for Team GB. Having struggled with injury earlier in the season their results in 2016 haven’t been particularly encouraging, 5th in both Lucerne and Poznan. But, fully fit they will be in the mix for the medals. I’m picking them for bronze.

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Chiu Mang Tang & Hin Chun Chiu

3rd at the Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta ensured Hong Kong’s place in Rio. They’ve only raced once as a double on the World Cup circuit with a 10th place in Poznan. They will be wanting to best the likes of China and Japan in Rio.

 

Ireland

Ireland: Paul O’Donovan & Gary O’Donovan

After an 11th place finish in 2015 the Irish have made a massive step up in 2016. They won their countries first ever gold medal in this event at Brandenburg in the European Championships. They then showed that this was no fluke with 2 4th places in Lucerne and Poznan. I really like this Irish crew and I love the way they scull. I think they are going to be one of the main contenders for a medal, they perhaps won’t be able to catch the French but a silver medal isn’t beyond them and they could be one of the surprises of the regatta

 

Italy

Italy: Micheletti Andrea & Marcello Miani

The Italians are a very experienced crew, Miani finished 4th in the LM2X Beijing and 12th in the LM4- in London. He spent 2015 in the LM1X finishing 12th. Andrea was in the LM2X last year with Pietro Ruta and secured qualification with a 5th place finish. Miani and Andrea raced together in Poznan taking the bronze. They will be a contender come the final, but ultimately I think they’ll just miss out.

 

Japan

Japan: Hideki Omoto & Hiroshi Nakano

2nd to the Chinese at the Asian Qualification regatta the Japanese finished 25th in the World last year. They raced in Lucerne finishing 12th of 12. Anything better than a C final will be a great result for the Japanese, and they’ll be looking to beat their fellow Asian crews.

 

Norway.jpg

Norway: Kristoffer Brun & Are Strandli

The 2013 World Champions, the Norwegians followed that victory with a bronze in 2014 and again in 2015. They will be one of the favourites to win Norway’s first ever Olympic LM2X medal. So far in 2016 they have a bronze from the Europeans and were runners-up to the French at both Lucerne and Poznan World Cups. I think they’ll just miss the medals, but it’s going to be very, very tight.

 

poland

Poland: Artur Mikolajczewski & Milosz Jankowski

7th in the world last year the Poles are a quality crew. Their best ever result was gold at the Eton World Cup in 2013. In 2016 they finished 7th in Varese, had a great race in Brandenburg – taking 4th. In Poznan they raced in the heavyweight division but withdrew at the semi-final stage. They wll be there or thereabouts in Rio but a top 12 placing will be par.

 

South-African-Flag

South Africa: James Thompson & John Smith

The South Africans shocked the French favourites in 2014 when they pipped them to the world title. They were just out of the medals in 2015 but have started 2016 really well, gold medallists in Varese they then took bronze in Lucerne. They will be in the mix for the medals, along with the French, Irish, Brits and Norwegians.

 

swiss

Switzerland: Daniel Wiederkehr & Micahel Schmid

The Swiss finished 10th in the world last year and booked their spot for Rio. The Swiss have a fantastic lightweight squad, their LM4- are one of the favourites for gold. The LM2X aren’t quite at that level and will be looking for a strong B-Final placing. So far in 2016 Wiederkehr raced in the LM1X in Varese finishing just out of the medals. As a double they finished 8th at both Lucerne and Varese.

 

turkey.jpg

Turkey: Cem Yilaz & Huseyin Kandemir

Turkey qualified by taking the 2nd spot at the Final Qualifying Regatta. Turkey have a strong lightweight squad, the LM2X were disappointed not to qualify directly at the World Championships last year. They’ve changed their line-up for 2016 and had a good 10th place in Varese. A B final will be a strong result for the Turks.

 

USA flag

The USA:  Andrew Campbell Jr & Josh Konieczny

The USA finished 8th last year, a safe qualification for Rio but a bit of a disappointing result for the US. Andrew Campbell is one of the most exciting young lightweight scullers in the world U23 World Champion 2013 and 2014 and senior world bronze medallist in 2012. He just missed qualifying for the London Olympics. He formed a new duo with Konieczny last year. Their best result was 4th in Varese. In 2016 they raced at the Lucerne World Cup finishing 6th. There’s a lot of expectation on this crew, but I think they may miss out on an A-Final.

 

France are the standout crew in this event, but behind them it’s a real barnburner, with the Norwegians, British, South Africans and Irish all in with a shout of a medal. My picks are France in gold, Ireland in silver and GB bronze.

The Rio Olympic Lightweight Men’s Four preview

Having received a lot of “feedback” about the fact I haven’t done a preview for the Lightweight events, I thought I better write something…even if it’s not in as much detail as the other events.

 

Canada flag

Canada: Brendan Hodge, Nicolas Pratt, Eric Woelfl, Maxwell Lattimer

Canada tool the final direct qualifying spot for Rio by finishing 11th at the Aiguebelette World Championships in 2015. They quite a good history in this event. Silver in Atlanta and bronze in Beijing. But, since Beijing Canada haven’t made the A-Final in any World Cup or World championships. So far this season they’ve raced at Varese and Lucerne finishing 13th and 9th respectively. A B-final is the likely finish for the Cannucks.

 

China-Flag-4

China: Chenggang Yu, Wei Jin, Tiexin Wang, Jingbin Zhao

The Chinese have half of the crew that raced in London, Changgang Yu & Tiexin Wang. They finished 8th in Aiguebelette but made a strong strart to their 2016 campaign taking a silver medal in Varese and 7th in Lucerne. China have a mixed record in this event, World Champions 10 years ago, bronze was their last World Championship medal in Karapiro in 2010. They won’t be challenging for the medals but an A-final finish would be a great result for them.

Czech

Czech Republic: Jan Vetesnik, Miroslav Vrastil Jr, Ondrej Vetesnik, Jiri Kopac

The Czechs have never won a medal at a World Cup or World Championships, but they have had more success at the European championships, with their best result being a silver in 2013. This year’s crew are highly experienced and includes the 32 year old twins Jan and Ondrej Vetesnik. They finished 10th last year and so far this season they made the A-Final in Varese and the European Championships but slipped back to 8th in Lucerne. My expectations for Rio will be the top end of the B Final.

 

Denmark Flag magnet

Denmark: Morten Joergensen, Jacob Barsoe, Jacob Larsen, Kasper Joergensen

Denmark are regarded as the “Golden Four”..They have won more medals in this event than any other nation, including an unbeaten run from the Atlanta Olympics through to the 1999 world Championships – 13 wins at Olympic, World and World Cup level. Overall the Danes have won the world Championships 5 times since 1990 and 3 gold and 2 bronzes at the Olympics. So far this season the Danes raced in the heavyweight division at the Europeans, finishing 6th and then won bronze and silver in their “proper” event at Lucerne and Poznan. I love watching the Danes race, they go off hard and rate high and they never seem to settle….it’s just a sprint from start to finish with them. They will be one of the favourites for a medal, and with their pedigree anything less than a medal will be a big disappointment. That said the competition in incredibly fierce and open and they may just miss out.

 

6917465-french-flag-wallpaper

France: Thomas Baroukh, Franck Solforosi, Guillaume Raineau, Thibault Colard

In Aiguebelette the French won bronze, their first World Championship medal since 2007. In London the French crew just missed out on an A-Final finish and ended up winning the B-Final. So far this season they’ve taken two 4th places at Lucerne and Poznan. In Rio they will be an outside bet for a medal but I expect they will be towards the back of the A-Final

 

union Jack

Great Britain: Mark Aldred, Jono Clegg, Chris Bartley, Pete Chambers

By their own standards, 9th at last year’s World Championships was a big disappointment for the British. It was the first time since 2009 that GB had missed the podium at the World Championships. In London they had a fantastic race just being overtaken by South Africa in the final stages. This season they have shown signs of a return to form with silver in Brandenburg and bronze in Poznan. Expectations are high for this crew to take another Olympic medal, a bronze is the likely result.

 

Germany

Germany: Lars Wichert, Jonathan Koch, Lucas Schaeffer, Tobias Franzmann

Lightweight sweep rowing is a bit of the “poor relation” in German men’s rowing. At Olympic level their best result is 5th in 1996. They’ve had more success at the World Championships with gold in 1990 and 2009, but that was the last time they took a medal and since 2009 they’ve only made one World Championship A-Final (finishing 4th in Karapiro in 2010). In 2015 they finished out of the direct qualifying spots in 13th meaning they had to race at the Final Qualifying Regatta. 2nd place secured their place in Rio (although this was bumped up to 1st when Russia were disqualified). Also this season they have a bronze medal from Brandenburg and 5th in Poznan. A top 6 finish would be a great result, but I think a B-final is more likely.

 

Greece

Greece:  Panagiotis Magdanis, Stefanos Ntouskas, ioannis Petrou, Spyridion Giannaros

Greece are the main beneficiaries from the turmoil surrounding the Russian rowing team. The Russians finished 1st at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta but have subsequently been disqualified for not meeting the eligibility criteria laid down in the LcLaren report. This means that Greece, who had crossed the line 3rd in Lucerne get their slot and will be on the start line in Rio. The question will be, can they make the most of their opportunity. 16th in the World last year would suggest they will struggle. A C-final is the most likely result, but given that the Greeks didn’t even know they’d be racing at the Olympics until a week ago they’ll probably take whatever they can get.

 

 

Italy

Italy: Pietro Ruta, Livio La Padula, Martino Goretti, Stefano Oppo

The Italians love their lightweight rowing, they’ve had a lot of success in the LM8 and also the lightweight small boats. In the LM4- they won bronze in Athens and were World Champions way back in 1995. Their most recent medal came in 2013. They’ve tweaked the line-up from the crew that finished 6th last year, with the experienced Pietro Ruta coming in in place of Alberto di Seyssel. This season they had a disappointing row in Varese, finishing 12th (beaten by their 2nd LM4-) and in Poznan they finished last of the 6 entries. Despite bringing Ruta in to strengthen the crew I think the Azzuri will struggle and a mid to low B-Final finish looks the most likely.

 

Netherlands

The Netherlands: Jort Van Gennep, Timothee Heijbrock, Bjorn Van den Ende, Joris Pijs

The Netherlands qualified for Rio by finishing 5th at the 2015 World Championships. They last won a World Championship medal in 2003 and their 5th place last year equalled their best Worlds performance since that silver medal in Milan. They’ve had some good results this season, with 4th places in Varese and Brandenburg and a 6th in Lucerne. If they make the top 6 in Rio it will equal their performance at both London and Beijing.

 

NZ flag

New Zealand: Peter Taylor, James Lassche, James Hunter, Alistair Bond

The Kiwis are the form nation of this Olympiad, they’ve won 9 of the 11 World Cups, although they were pipped to gold at the Worlds in both 2013 and 2014. The crew includes double Olympian Peter Taylor. This season, despite having to race with a sub, they won both the Lucerne and Poznan World Cups. They are my picks to win their first Olympic LM4- medal, and I reckon it’ll be gold.

 

swiss

Switzerland: Simon Neipmann, Mario Gyr, Simon Schuerch, Lucas Tramer

The Swiss are an outstanding crew, European and World champions in 2015, they started 2016 as they left off with wins in Varese and retaining their European title. At the 2nd World Cup they renewed their rivalry with the New Zealanders. Throughout 2015 the Kiwis and Swiss shared wins. Heading into Rio the likely battle for gold is going to be a fight between the Kiwis and the Swiss. I think the Oar-Blacks will just pip the Swiss, but it promises to be exciting!

 

USA flag

The USA: Edward King, Tyler Nase, Robin Prendes, Anthony Fahden

7th at last year’s World Championships secured their participation in Rio. The USA don’t have a particularly strong recent history in this boat class. They last won a world title back in 1993 and last won an Olympic medal when they took bronze in Atlanta. They’ve competed at one World Cup this season and won bronze, their first World Cup medal since 2003. Whilst I’m not sure they’ll get among the medals in Rio, they’ve certainly brought US lightweight sweep back to the sharp end of the competition.

 

So that’s a whistle-stop look at the crews, my picks are New Zealand for what could be the last ever Olympic LM4- gold ahead of the Swiss in silver and the British just getting the better of the Danes to take bronze.

Th Rio Olympics Men’s 8 preview

Now time for what mean think of as the Blue Riband event of the Olympic Rowing regatta, the Men’s eights

 

Great Britain

union Jack

Will Satch 27

Olympic record: Bronze M2- London

World Championship record: 1st M8 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Andy Hodge 37

Olympic record: 9th M8 Athens, Gold M4- Beijing, London

World Championship record: 6th M8 2002, 3rd M8 2003, 1st M4- 2005, 2006, 4th M4- 2007, 2nd M2- 2009, 2010, 2011, 1st M8 2013, 2014

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Matt Langridge 33

Olympic record: 7th M2X Athens, silver M8 Beijing, 3rd M8 London

World Championship record: 9th M4X 2003, 7th M4X 2005, 5th M8 2006, 3rd M2- 2007, 1st M4- 2009, 4th M4- 2010, 1st M4- 2011, 9th M2X 2013, 2nd M2- 2014, 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Scott Durant 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 5th M4- 2013, 2nd M2+ 2014, 3rd M4- 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Paul Bennett 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st M8 2014, 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Pete Reed 35

Olympic record: Gold M4- Beijing, London

World Championship record: 1st M4- 2005, 2006, 4th M4- 2007, 2nd M2- 2009, 2010, 2011, 1st M8 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships. 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Matt Gotrel 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st M8 2014, 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Tom Ransley 30

Olympic record: Bronze M8 London

World Championship record: 5th M8 2009, 2nd M8 2010, 2nd M8 2011, 1st M8 2013, 2014, 3rd M4- 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Phelan Hill 37 (cox)

Olympic record: Bronze M8 London

World championship record: 4th M4+ 2007, 5th M8 2009, 2nd M8 2010, 2011, 1st M8 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 European Championships, 4th M8 Lucerne World Championships, 2nd M8 Poznan World Cup

Great Britain were Olympic Champions in this event in 2000 and have won medals at the last two Olympics. So far during the Rio Olympiad they have won gold at all three World Championships, and they’ve a stated ambition to win all 3 World Championships and the Olympic gold in one Olympiad, something only the Germans have ever done before (which they achieved by winning gold in London). But, crucially for 2016 coach Jurgen Grobler has taken his top 4 out of the 8 to make a new M4-. In their place has come double Olympic gold medallist Andy Hodge and former world champion Matt Langridge. The other new comers are Scott Durant and Olympic bronze medallist Tom Ransley. The target for Grobler is to repeat the success of Sydney in 2000 when both the M4- and the M8 won gold. Heading into Rio the M4- are the hot favourites, but the M8 is a little more uncertain. The crew will have the confidence of three back-to-back World Championship victories, but in their new configuration the results have been a little more mixed. Bronze at the Europeans followed by 4th in Lucerne (albeit racing with Alan Sinclair in place of an ill Pete Reed). When the crew was back to full strength in Poznan they had a great race, leading to the half way mark before being overhauled by their nemesis, the Germans, who went on to win by just over ½ second. But, the signs are encouraging that Great Britain will be one of the main contenders for the gold medal. I’m picking the GB boys to do it and get gold.

 

 

Germany

Germany

Eric Johannesen 28

Olympic record: Gold M8 London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4X 2008, 2nd U23 M2X 2010, 5th M2- 2010, 1st M8 2011, 2nd M8 2013, 2nd M8 2014, 2nd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Felix Drahotta 27

Olympic record: 4th M2- Beijing, 7th M2- London

World Championship record: 7th M2- 2009, 6th M2- 2011, 2nd M8 2013, 2nd M8 2014, 2nd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Richard Schmidt 29

Olympic record: 6th M4- Beijing, Gold M8 London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4- 2007, 1st M8 2009, 2010, 2011, 2nd M8 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Andreas Kuffner 29

Olympic record: Gold M8 London

World Championship record: 5th M2- 2010, 1st M8 2011, 2nd M8 2014

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Hannes Ocik 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 M4+ 2010, 1st U23 M4- 2011, 3rd U23 M2- 2012, 2nd M8 2013, 2nd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Malte Jakschik 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World championship record: 12th M4- 2013, 2nd M8 2014, 2nd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Max Munski 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2010, 3rd M2+ 2010, 6th M2- 2011, 2nd M8 2013, 8th M4- 2014, 2nd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Max Reinelt 27

Olympic record: Gold M8 London

World Championship record: 2nd U23 M8 2007, 2009, 1st M8 2010, 2011, 2nd M8 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

Martin Sauer 33 (cox)

Olympic record: Gold M8 London

World Championship record: 9th LM8 2001, 1st U23 M4+ 2003, 1st U23 M8 2004, 3rd M4+ 2005, 1st M4+ 2006, 3rd M4+ 2007, 2nd LM8 2008, 1st M8 2009, 2010, 2011, 2nd M8 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 European Championships, 2nd M8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st M8 Poznan World Cup

As far as German men’s rowing is concerned the eight is all that matters, the team is even called the Deutschland-Achter – The German 8. As mentioned above, the Germans dominated this event in the London Olympiad, winning the World Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before crowning it off with gold at the 2012 Olympics. The British have been their nemesis for the past 6 years, finishing runners up to them in 2010 and 2011. In the Rio Olympiad the tables have been turned and it’s GB that has dominated. The Germans will have hated playing 2nd fiddle to the Brits, in an event that they see as theirs. The crew for 2016 includes five of the boat that won gold in London and another, Felix Drahotta, with Olympic experience, the only “new boys” are Max Munski and Malte Jakschik. So this boat has a huge amount of experience and so far this season they’ve made a pretty good start to the defence of their Olympic title. Winners at the European Championships they suffered a surprise defeat in Lucerne, it wasn’t the British, but the Dutch who turned over both the Germans and the British to make everyone aware the gold in Rio isn’t going to be a two horse race. The Germans took another gold in Poznan, but crucially the Dutch were absent. So, the Germans probably head into Rio as the marginal favourites for gold but it’s going to be one of the races of the regatta to see them take on the British, Dutch and Kiwis (more on them later). I’m backing the Brits to take the gold a few feet ahead of the Germans.

 

 

 

Italy

Italy

Luca Agamennoni  36

Olympic record: Bronze M4- Athens, silver M4X Beijing, 8th M4- London

World Championship record: 2nd M4+ 2001, 6th M4X 2003, 3rd M2- 2005, 2nd M8 2006, 6th M4X 2009, 2nd M4X 2010, 10th M4- 2011, 6th M8 2015

2016 record: 2nd M8 Varese World Cup, 3rd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Matteo Stefanini 32

Olympic record: 19th M1X Athens, 11th M4X London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M2X 2005, 2nd U23 M2X 2006, 4th M4X 2006, 6th M4X 2009, 2nd M4X 2010, 6th M4X 2011, 16th M4X 2014, 6th M8 2015

2016 record: 2nd M8 Varese World Cup, 3rd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Simone Vernier 31

Olympic record: 10th M4X Athens, Silver M4X Beijing, 8th M4- London

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2006, 4th M4X 2006, 18th M2X 2007, 2nd M4X 2010, 6th M4X 2011, 7th M4X 2013, 16th M4X 2014, 10th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M8 Varese World Cup, 3rd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Vincenzo Capelli 27

Olympic record: 8th M4- London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4+ 2007, 2nd U23 M4+ 2009, 1st U23 M4- 2010, 6th M4- 2010, 1st M2+ 2011, 8th M8 2013, 9th M8 2014, 5th M2- 2015

2016 record: 4th M2- Varese World Cup, 20th M1X Poznan World Cup

Pierpaolo Frattini 32

Olympic record: 7th M8 Athens, 11th M4X London

World Championship experience: 2nd U23 M8 2005, 2nd M8 2005, 3rd U23 M8 2006, 2nd M8 2006, 6th M8 2009, 2nd M2+ 2010, 1st M2+ 2011, 8th M8 2013, 9th M8 2014, 6th M8 2015

2016 record: 2nd M8 Varese World Cup, 3rd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Emanuele Liuzzi 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4+ 2010, 8th M8 2013, 9th M8 2014, 7th M2+ 2015

2016 record: 10th M4- Varese World Cup

Fabio Infimo 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 8th M8 2013, 9th M8 2014, 6th M8 2015

2016 record: 2nd M8 Varese World Cup, 3rd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Mario Paonessa 25

Olympic record: 8th M4- London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4- 2010, 6th M4- 2010, 2nd U23 M4- 2011, 4th M4- 2013, 7th M4- 2014, 10th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M8 Varese World Cup, 3rd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Enrico D’Aniello 20 (cox)

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st LM8 & 1st M2+ 2013, 9th M8 2014, 6th M8 2015

2016 Record: 2016 record: 2nd M8 Varese World Cup, 3rd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Like Australia in the W8, the Italians are lucky to be racing in Rio. They were given a last minute entry after the Russian M’s was disqualified from the Games by FISA in response to the McLaren report on doping. The Italians missed qualifying directly at last year’s World Championships when they finished 6th in the final with only the top 5 qualifying. This meant they had to go through the Final Qualifying Regatta. The 2016 season started encouragingly with a good silver medal behind the Dutch at the Varese World Cup, but in a fierce battle at the FOQR they finished in third, behind the USA and Poland, with only the top two qualifying. At the time it looked like their Olympic dreams were over. The crew stayed together however and raced in the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley. At Henley they were convincingly beaten by the GB U23 crew which was a disappointing result for the Azzuri. But, with the expulsion of the Russians the dream was back on. This did cause some logistical headaches for the Italians, as a couple of the crew had been moved to other Olympic boats. Now, the Qualification rules state that the athlete who qualifies the boat via the FOQR has to race in that boat if they compete at the Olympics. The problem for the Italians is that one of the crew had moved to the M2- and the pairs and 8’s races are only 30 minutes apart, making it impossible to double up without rescheduling. Fortunately for the Italians, FISA have bent their own rules meaning Italy can bring in some alternate athletes without penalty. So, the crew itself….It’s one of the most experienced crews in the event with 12 Olympic appearance between them. But given the disruption they’ve suffered and the late call up (not to mention the fact they will be using Russia’s boat) anything other than 7th place for the Italians will be a great result.

 

The Netherlands

Netherlands

Kaj Hendriks 28

Olympic record: 5th M4- London

World Championship record: 4th M8 2010, 6th M4- 2011, 1st M4- 2013, 8th M8 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Olivier Siegelaar 29

 

World Championship record: 3rd M8 2009, 4th M8 2010, 6th M8 2011, 4th M4- 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Dirk Uittenbogaard 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 8th M4X 2013, 14th M2X 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Boudewijn Roell 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 5th M8 2013, 8th M8 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Mechiel Versluis 29

Olympic record: 5th M4- London

World Championship record: 11th M4- 2010, 1st M4- 2013, 4th M4- 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Boaz Meylink 32

Olympic record: 5th M4- London

World Championship record: 6th M8 2011, 1st M4- 2013, 4th M4- 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Tone Wieten 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World championship record: 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Robert Luecken 31

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 3rd M8 2009, 11th M4- 2010, 6th M8 2011, 1st M4- 2013, 2nd M4- 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

Peter Wiersum 31

Olympic record: 4th M8 Beijing, 5th M8 London

World Championship record: 1st LM8 2007, 3rd M8 2009, 4th M8 2010, 6th M8 2011, 5th M8 2013, 8th M8 2014, 3rd M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Varese World Cup, 6th M8 European Championships, 1st M8 Lucerne World Cup

The Dutch have shaken up this event this season. For the past 3 years it’s been pretty much a battle between the British and Germans, but in Lucerne they threw a major spanner into the German and British works when they beat the both of them. This was the first victory for the Dutch over the Germans since the Athens Olympics. The basis of this crew has been developing over the past 4-5 years. The heart of the crew is made up of the 2013 World Champion M4-, Robert Luecken, Boaz Meylink, Mechiel Versluis & Kaj Hendriks. Bronze in the M8 at the 2015 Worlds showed that they were ready to challenge for the gold and the manner of their performances so far this season as led many to pick them to win their first gold since 1996 (a crew many people believe is the best technical men’s 8 ever). It remains to be seen if they can carry their performance through the Olympic regatta. They are certainly not invulnerable, they narrowly defeated the Nereus Student 8 at the Amsterdam regatta and then finished 6th at the atrocious conditions at the Europeans. At Henley they produced a good, if not convincing, victory over the GB U23’s. They certainly have the capability of spoiling the British and German party, but ultimately I think the two “super-powers” will just have the edge and the Dutch will take the bronze

 

New Zealand

NZ flag

Michael Brake 21

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 M4+ 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Alex Kennedy 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M4+ 2012, 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Shaun Kirkham 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Isaac Grainger 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Brook Robertson 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Thomas Murray 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Jonathan Wright 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Stephen Jones 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record: 5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

Caleb Shepherd 23 (cox)

Olympic record: 2016 debut

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2013, 1st U23 M8 2013, 2014, 1st M2+ 2014, 4th M8 2015

2016 record:  5th M8 Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M8 Poznan World Cup

The Kiwis haven’t won an Olympic medal in this event since taking bronze in Montreal in 1976. Four years earlier they had won gold with a crew that is still held in awe around the world and is (along with the ’96 Dutch crew) considered one of the finest Olympic men’s 8 in history. The crew for Rio have used that ’72 crew as their inspiration. They are a very young crew, none of them have raced at an Olympics before, and with an average age of just over 22 they are the youngest crew in the competition. But, they are a settled crew that have been rowing together since 2013 and won the U23 World Championships that year, a title they defended the following year. In 2015 they competed at their first senior World Championships finishing just outside of the medals. So far this season they’ve showed good, if not spectacular form, 5th at the Lucerne World Cup was followed by bronze in Poznan (albeit 6 seconds behind the British in silver). They are a dynamic and exciting crew but I’ve a feeling the Olympics have come 2 years too soon for them to make the podium. If they stay together after Rio they could be major players in the Tokyo Olympiad.

 

Poland

poland

Robert Fuchs 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic record

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

Marcin Brzezinski 32

Olympic record: 5th M8 Beijing, 7th M8 London

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M4X 2003, 9th M2X 2005, 4th M2X 2006, 12th M2X 2007, 4th M8 2009, 8th M8 2010, 5th M8 2011, 4th M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

Michal Szpakowski 27

Olympic record: 7th M8 London

World championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2008, 4th M8 2009, 8th M8 2010, 5th M8 2011, 4th M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

Piotr Juszczak 26

Olympic record: 7th M8 London

World championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2008, 1st U23 M8 2009, 8th M8 2010, 5th M8 2011, 4th M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

Mateusz Wilangowski 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

 

Zbigniew Schodowski 29

Olympic record: 7th M8 London

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2008, 1st U23 M8 2009, 20th M2- 2011, 4th M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

Mikolaj Burda 34

Olympic record: 8th M8 Athens, 5th M8 Beijing, 7th M8 London

World Championship record: 12th M8 2001, 11th M8 2002, 8th M8 2003, 5th M8 2005, 6th M8 2006, 5th M8 2007, 4th M8 2009, 8th M8 2010, 5th M8 2011, 4th M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

Krystian Aranowski 28

Olympic record: 7th M8 London

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2008, 4th M8 2009, 8th M8 2010, 5th M8 2011, 4th M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

Daniel Trojanowski 34 (cox)

Olympic record: 8th M8 Athens, 5th M8 Beijing, 7th M8 London

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M8 2001, 11th M8 2002, 8th M8 2003, 5th M8 2005, 6th M8 2006, 5th M8 & 1st M2+ 2007, 4th M8 2009, 8th M8 2010, 5th M8 2011, 4th M8 2013, 3rd M8 2014, 8th M8 2015

2016 record: 3rd M8 Varese World Cup, 5th European Championships, 2nd M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th M8 Poznan World Cup

The Poles are probably the most consistent crew in terms of their line-up, 6 of the crew have been rowing together as an 8 since 2010. As a crew they have the capability of making the podium, they won bronze in 2014, but consistency looks to be their issue. In Aiguebelette last year they missed the A-Final which meant they had to race at the Final Qualifying Regatta. They finished runners-up to the USA which meant they secured the final qualifying spot (at least until the Italians were promoted). At the Varese World Cup they won bronze but then at the Europeans they were outside the medals and then in Poznan they again finished out of the medals finishing 4th out of 5 crews. In Rio the battle for the Polish will be to make the A-Final.

 

The United States of America

USA flag

Michael Di Santo 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 14th M2- 2014, 9th M2- 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup.

Sam Dommer 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic record

World Championship record: 4th M8 2014, 7th M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

Alex Karwoski 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 14th M2- 2013, 20th M2X 2014, 7th M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

Austin Hack 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2011, 3rd M8 2013, 4th M8 2014, 7th M8 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

Robert Munn 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 M8 2010, 2011, 2012, 4th M2+ 2013, 4th M8 2014,

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

Stephen Kasprzyk 34

Olympic record: 4th M8 London

World Championship record: 7th M2+ 2007, 9th M8 2009, 3rd M8 2013, 4th M8 2014,

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

Hand Struzyna 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 13th M4X 2013, 12th M4X 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

Glenn Ochal 30

Olympic record: Bronze M4- London

World Championship record: 12th M4X 2009, 7th M2X 2010, 8th M4X 2011, 6th M2- 2014, 7th M4- 2015

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

Sam Ojserkis 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2012,

2016 record: 1st M8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 3rd M8 Lucerne World Cup

The Americans love the 8, in their domestic collegiate rowing programmes no other boat matters, and that attitude continues, at least in the eyes of the public, into the national team. Whilst the US women totally dominate their eights event the men aren’t so lucky. They certainly have a strong history, they last won the title in Athens in 2004. At the World Championships in the late 1990’s the US dominated the event, winning in 1997, 98 & 99. But since the turn of the century they’ve only won the World Championships once, and that was back in 2005. Indeed, since 2005 the Americans have only won two World Championship medals, both bronzes in 2006 and 2013. The crew for Rio have had a fight on their hands just to qualify. After finishing outside of the A-final in Aiguebelette they had to race at the Final Olympic Qualifying regatta, if they had failed it would’ve been the first time since 1976 that their hadn’t been a US M8 at the Olympic Games. But, they treated the FOQR as their Olympic final and won their place at Rio. They followed this up a few days later with Bronze at the Lucerne World Cup, leading to halfway before backing off, it’s difficult to know how much to read into this result as they had peaked specifically for that week. Rio will be a very different matter. They are a fairly young and inexperienced crew, only two of them have any Olympic experience. There are high hopes that this crew can deliver a major medal for the US men, but I’m not convinced. When it comes to the Olympic final I don’t think they will have the experience or firepower to challenge for the medals.

 

So that’s it, the fight for gold is going to come down to a three-way fight between the defending Olympic Champions from Germany, the defending World Champions from Great Britain and the in-form Dutch. There’s something about the British crew that makes me think it’s going to be their year. GB for the gold ahead of Germany and The Netherlands.

 

Apologies to anyone who was looking forward to the previews of the Lightweight events, time is not on my side and unfortunately I’m not going to be able to get the write-ups done in time. Now, to sit back and watch the racing. I can’t wait!!

The Rio Olympics Women’s 8 preview

Rio 2016

 

Time for the big boats….the eights…starting with the women.

 

Australia

Australia

Meaghan Volker 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 8th W8 2015

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Charlotte Sutherland 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W4- 2013, 5th W8 & 3rd W4- 2013, 5th W2- 2014, 8th W8 2015

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Alex Hagan 25

Olympic record: 6th W8 London

World Championship record: 3rd U23 W4- 2011, 1st U23 W4- 2013, 5th W8 & 3rd W4- 2013, 10th W8 2014, 8th W8 2015

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Molly Goodman 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 10th W8 2014, 13th W2- 2015

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Fiona Albert 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W4- 2012

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Jessica Morrison 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: none

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Lucy Stephan 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W4- 2012, 1st U23 W4- 2013, 5th W8 & 3rd W4- 2013, 5th W2- 2014, 8th W8 2015

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Olympia Aldersey 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W2X 2012, 8th W4X 2013, 3rd W2X 2014, 10th W2X 2015

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Sarah Banting 22 (Cox)

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 8th W8 2015

2016 Record: 3rd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Up until a little over a week ago Australia didn’t think they would be racing at the Olympics, they’d missed direct qualification after finishing 8th at the World Championships in 2015 and then missed out in the “regatta of death” when they finished 3rd. But, crucially, following the ruling by the IOC about Russia’s eligibility to compete FISA declared that none of the Russian W8 met the strict eligibility criteria to race in Rio. This meant that the 7th spot at the Games became vacant and was offered to the next in line from the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta…Australia. So, the crew were rapidly recalled and thrown back into training. They are a young crew with only one member, 25 year-old Alex Hagan, having competed at the Olympics before. The core of the crew is based around the successful U23 W4- from 2013, but in total 5 of the crew have medalled at U23 level in the past 3-4 years. Given how late they’ve come back to training the expectations aren’t too high for this boat, which might be liberating for them, but in reality they will be pleased with anything other than 7th place.

 

Canada

Canada flag

Christine Roper 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 3rd U23 W8 2010, 1st U23 W8 2011, 1st U23 W4- 2012, 3rd W8 & 2nd W4- 2013, 2nd W8 2014, 3rd W8 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Lisa Roman 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic record

World Championship record: 3rd U23 W8 2010, 1st U23 W8 2011, 1st U23 W4- 2012, 3rd W8 & 2nd W4- 2013, 2nd W8 2014, 3rd W8 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Natalie Mastracci 27

Olympic record: Silver W8 London

World Championship record: 2nd W8 2011, 3rd W8 & 2nd W4- 2013, 2nd W8 2014, 3rd W8 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Antje Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W4- 2012, 2nd W4X 2013, 6th W4X 2014, 22nd W2X 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Cristy Nurse 29

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd W8 2010, 2nd W8 2011, 3rd W8 & 2nd W4- 2013, 2nd W8 2014, 3rd W8 & 6th W2- 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Lauren Wilkinson 26

Olympic record: Silver W8 London

World Championship record: 1st U23 W8 2011, 2nd W8 2014, 3rd W8 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Susanne Grainger 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W8 2011, 1st U23 W4- 2012, 3rd W8 2013, 2nd W8 2014, 3rd W8 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Caileigh Filmer 19

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W4- 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Lesley Thompson-Willie 55 (Cox)

Olympic record: Silver W4+ Los Angeles, gold W8 Barcelona, silver W8 Atlanta, bronze W8 Sydney, 4th W8 Beijing, silver W8 London

World Championships: 4th W8 1981, 4th W4+ 1983, 3rd W4+ 1985, 3rd W4+ 1986, 7th W8 & 6th W4+ 1987, 1st W8 1991, 1st W8 1994, 6th W8 1995, 2nd W8 1997, 3rd W8 1998, 3rd W8 1999, 5th W8 2006, 6th W8 2007, 6th W8 2009, 2nd W8 2010, 2nd W8 2011, 2nd W8 2014, 3rd W8 2015

2016 Record: 2nd W8 Varese World Cup, 4th W8 Lucerne World Cup

Canada have won the Olympic title once, in 1992, and incredibly the cox of that boat, Lesley Thompson-Willie is in the crew for 2016. The 55 year old is heading to her 7th Olympic Games. She’s in charge of a crew that includes two of the athletes that won silver in London, Natalie Mastracci and Lauren Wilkinson. The Canadian women’s 8 has, over the past few years, been playing the bridesmaid to the USA. Between 2009 and 2014 they finished in 2nd to the US at 4 World Championships. It was the case that the US were well out in front, chased by the Canadians with the rest of the world chasing the Cannucks. But, in the past couple of years the rest of the world have been catching up. The Canadians are no longer the nailed on silver medallists they were in London. The British, New Zealanders and Dutch are all now muscling in and the Canadians will have a battle on their hands just to get ta medal. So far in 2016 they won silver in Varese (beaten by the Dutch) and only 4th in Lucerne (losing to the US, British and Kiwis). I think that sort of form will continue in Rio and I think the Canadians will miss out on an Olympic medal.

 

Great Britain

union Jack

Jess Eddie 31

Olympic record: 5th W8 Beijing, 5th W8 London

World Championship record: 6th W4- 2004, 5th W8 2005, 11th W2- 2006, 3rd W8 2007, 5th W8 2009, 4th W8 2010, 3rd W8 2011, 4th W8 2013, 6th W8 2014, 4th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Olivia Carnegie-Brown 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W2- 2012, 4th W8 2014, 4th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Zoe Lee 30

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 4th W8 2013, 6th W8 2014, 4th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Fran Houghton 35

Olympic record: 9th W2X Sydney, Silver W4X Athens, Silver W4X Beijing, 6th W4X London

World Championship record: 6th W8 & 7th W2X 2001, 4th W2X 2002, 4th W4X 2003, 1st W4X 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 10th W1X 2011, 4th W2X 2013, 8thh W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Mel Wilson 32

Olympic record: 6th W4X London

World Championship record: 5th W8 2009, 7th W4X 2011, 4th W8 2013, 8th W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Katie Greves 33

Olympic record: 5th W8 Beijing, 5th W8 London

World Championship record: 5th W8 2005, 8th W8 2006, 3rd W8 2007, 5th W4X 2009, 9th W1X 2010, 3rd W8 2011, 4th W8 2013, 6th W8 2014, 4th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Polly Swann 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st W2- 2013, 6th W8 2014

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Karen Bennett 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd W4- 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

Zoe De Toledo 29 (cox)

Olympic record: debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W8 2009, 4th W8 2013, 6th W8 2014, 4th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W8 Poznan World Cup

 

GB have the crew with the most Olympic experience (if you exclude Canada’s Lesley Thompson-Willie) with 10 Olympic appearances between them. The most experienced rower is Fran Houghton, Rio will be her fifth Olympics having won silver at both Athens and Beijing. Katie Greves and Jess Eddie were both in the W8 at Beijing and London. The British eight has been a long time in the making and has had a couple of false dawns, they were bitterly disappointed to miss out on the medals throughout this Olympiad. But the crew have a wonderful spirit, they refer to their rowing as “sassy” and so far in 2016 they’ve made a big breakthrough, winning the European Championships and finishing only 8/10th second behind the US in Lucerne. In Poznan, in a three boat race, they finished runners-up to the Kiwis. Heading into Rio they have the confidence and experience to take a major medal. The question will be, do they go for broke and try to take on the Americans or do they focus on beating everyone else? The head says race for the silver, the heart says…go for gold. I’m picking GB to take silver less than half a length behind the USA

 

The Netherlands

Netherlands

Lies Rustenburg 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 7th W4- 2014

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Jose Van Veen 30

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic record

World Championship record: 7th W4- 2014, 6th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Sophie Souwer 29

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 4th W4X 2013, 8th W8 2014, 6th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Wianka Van Dorp 28

Olympic record: missed qualifying for London

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W4- 2008, 14th W2- 2009, 10th W2- 2010, 3rd W4- 2011, 8th W8 2014, 6th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Olivia Van Rooijen 27

Olympic record: Missed qualifying for London

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W4- 2008, 14th W2- 2009, 10th W2- 2010, 5th W2- 2013, 7th W4X 2014, 6th W8 & 9th W2- 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Monica Lanz 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic record

World Championship record: 8th W8 2014, 6th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Elisabeth Hogerwerf 27

Olympic record: 8th W2X London

World Championship record: 3rd W4- 2011, 5th W2- 2013, 7th W4X 2014, 6th W8 & 3rd W4- 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Claudia Belderbos 31

Olympic record: Bronze W8 London

World Championship record: 3rd W8 2009, 5th W8 2010, 5th W8 2011, 6th W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Varese World Cup, 2nd W8 European Championships, 2nd W8 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Ae-Ri Noort 33 (cox)

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World championship record: 7th W8 2014, 6th W8 2015

The Dutch have a really strong Olympic record in this event, they’ve medalled at the last four Games, silver in Sydney and Beijing and bronze in Athens and London. They are a nation that seem to get it right at the Olympics but not at World Championship level, their last medal came back in 2009. This year’s crew have reached the Rio Olympics the hard way, 6th place at the World Championships last year meant they missed qualification for the Games and had to race at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta. 2nd to Romania meant they grabbed that all-important final berth.  They have just one returner from the crew that won bronze in London, Claudia Belderbos. In 2016 they shown good speed winning at the first World Cup in Varese and then having a great battle with the British at the European Championships, leading until the final few metres. They will definitely be challenging for the medal but I think they may just miss out.

 

New Zealand

NZ flag

Ruby Tew 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd W8 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 Poznan World Cup

Emma Dyke 21

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd W8 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 Poznan World Cup

Kayla Pratt 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W8 2011, 1st U23 W2- 2012, 3rd W2- 2013, 1st W4- 2014, 2nd W8 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 Poznan World Cup

Kerri Gowler 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 7th W8 2013, 1st U23 W2- 2014, 1st W4- 2014, 2nd W8 & 2nd W2- 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 Poznan World Cup

Genevieve Behrent 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 4th W4- 2010, 7th W8 2013, 2nd W8 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 & 2nd W2- Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 & 2nd W2- Poznan World Cup

Kelsey Bevan 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W8 2010, 8th W8 2010, 2nd U23 W8 2011, 7th W8 2013, 1st W4- 2014, 2nd W8 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 Poznan World Cup

Grace Prendergast 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 7th W8 2013, 1st U23 W2- 14, 1st W4- 2014, 2nd W8 & 2nd W2- 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 Poznan World Cup

 

Rebecca Scown 32

Olympic record: Bronze W2- London

World Championship record: 7th W8 2006, 3rd W2- 2009, 1st W2- 2010, 2011, 3rd W2- 2013, 3rd W2- 2014, 2nd W8 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 & 2nd W2- Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 & 2nd W2- Poznan World Cup

Frances Turner 24 (cox)

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W8 2010, 8th W8 2010, 2nd U23 W8 2011, 2nd W8 2015

2016 record: 3rd W8 Lucerne World Cup, 1st W8 Poznan World Cup

New Zealand have never qualified a W8 for the Olympics but over the past few years the Kiwis have put together an outstanding young crew, predominantly made up of their highly successful U23 group from 2011 and 2012. The crew are led by 32 year old Rebecca Scown, the eldest in the crew by 6 years and the only one with any Olympic experience, she and Genevieve Behrent are doubling-up in the W2-, this is a tactic that the Romanians used with great success at previous Olympics but it does carry risks. Last year the Kiwi W8 surprised the Canadians, British and Dutch by taking the silver medal behind the US, the first senior World Championship W8 medal New Zealand had ever won. But, despite their youth (excluding Scown the average age is just 23 compared to GB at 30 and the US at 28), they have plenty of international honours to their credit. As well as numerous U23 medals they also gold from the W4- in 2014 and golds and silvers from the W2-. They started 2016 pretty much as they left off in 2015, winning medals. Taking bronze in Lucerne and gold in Poznan. The battle between the OarBlacks and the “sassy” Brits will be pretty epic, the silver will be between these two crews and I think the greater experience of the Brits, and the fact none of the British are doubling up, will just tip the balance in their favour.

 

Romania

romania-flag_990999197

 

Miheala Petrila 25

Olympic record: Missed qualifying for London

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W2X 2011, 1st U23 W2- 2013, 4th W8 2014, 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships, 1st W8 Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

Roxana Cogianu 29

Olympic record: 10th W2X Beijing, 4th W8 London

World Championship record: 1st U23 W4X 2005, 1st U23 W4X 2006, 8th W4X 2007, 2nd W8 2009, 3rd W8 2010, 4th W8 2011, 2nd W8 & 2nd W2- 2013, 4th W8 2014, 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships, 1st W8 Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

Adelina Bogus 27

Olympic record: 4th W8 London

World Championship record: 1st U23 W2- 2009, 2nd W8 2009, 2nd U23 W2- 2010, 3rd W8 2010, 4th W8 & 10th W4X 2011, 4th W8 2014, 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships, 1st W8 Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

Laura Oprea 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W2X 2013, 4th W8 & 4th W4- 2014, 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships, 1st W8 Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

Ioana Strungaru 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd W8 2009, 3rd W8 2010, 2nd U23 W2X 2011, 10th W4X 2011, 2nd W8 2013, 4th W8 2014, 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships, 1st W8 Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

Iuliana Popa 20

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World championship record: 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships

Andreea Boghian 24

Olympic record: missed qualifying for London

World Championship record: 11th W4X 2010, 2nd U23 W2- 2011, 4th W8 2011, 2nd W8 2013, 4th W8 2014, 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships, 1st W8 Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

Daniela Druncea 25 (cox)

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd W8 2013, 4th W8 2014, 7th W8 2015

2016 record: 4th W8 European Championships, 1st W8 Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

There was a time when Romania dominated this event. From the Moscow Games to Beijing they never missed a podium, including wins in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens and at the World Championships they have medalled at 14 of the last 20 championships. But, in the last few years that dominance has been surpassed by the USA and now Romania is beginning to be overtaken by other nations as well. 7th in the World last year was their worst performance in over 25 years, certainly the first time they’d ever failed to make an A-Final.  Is there a crisis in Romanian women’s rowing? Probably not, but they are definitely now back in the chasing pack, rather than leading the charge. They have a talented young crew with a number of former U23 World Champions on board. The most experienced member of the crew is 29 year old Roxana Cogianu, she raced at both Beijing and London, the latter as part of the W8 that just missed out on a medal (the first time that had happened since 1976), so perhaps the writing was on the wall back in 2012. There performances so far in 2016 don’t give much encouragement that they will be pushing for a medal, they only finished 4th at the European Championships, a title Romania had won every year from 2007 to 2014. They negotiated the Final Olympic Qualifying regatta with relative ease but they’ve yet to show the sort of speed that will bring them a medal in Rio.

 

 

The United States of America

USA flag

 

Amanda Polk 30

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W8 2009, 2nd W4- 2009, 1st W8 2010, 2011, 2013, 2104, 2015

2016 record: 6th W4X Lucerne World Cup

Kerry Simmonds 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W8 2010, 1st W8 2013, 2nd W2- 2014, 1st W8 2015

2016 record: 7th w4X Lucerne World Cup

Meghan Musnicki 33

Olympic record: Gold W8 London

World Championship record: 1st W8 2010, 2011, 4th W2- & 1st W8 2013, 1st W8 2014, 2015

2016 Olympic record: 1st W8 & 3rd W2- Lucerne World Cup

Tessa Gobbo 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st W4- 2013, 2nd W4- 2014, 1st W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Lucerne World Cup

Ellie Logan 28

                Gold W8 Beijing & London

World Championship record: 2nd W4- 2009, 1st W8 2010, 2011, 5th W1X 2013, 1st W8 2014, 3rd W2- 2015

Emily Regan 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World championship record: 1st U23 W8 2010, 1st W4- 2011, 1st W8 2013, 1st W4- 2014, 1st W8 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Lucerne World Cup

Amanda Elmore 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W8 2012, 2013, 1st W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Lucerne World Cup

 

Lauren Schmetterling 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st W8 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 1st W8   Lucerne World Cup

Katelin Snyder 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W8 2006, 2008, 1st W8 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015

2016 record: 1st W8 Lucerne World Cup

If the USA do not win gold in Rio it will be one of the biggest upsets in world sport. They’ve won the last two Olympic Games and have won the last 8 World Championships. The last time a US W8 lost at a world champs or Olympics was at Gifu in 2005. That’s an astonishing run of success, certainly the best in World Rowing and possibly the best in any Olympic sport. It doesn’t seem to matter which combination the American boat they just seem to keep on winning. I’m not a huge of their technique, but it works. The key personnel in the boat are Ellie Logan and Meaghan Musnicki. Logan is competing at her third Olympics and is on course for her third gold, Musnicki is also an experienced Olympian having won gold in the W8 in London. In 2016 they US have been playing around with their line-up a little, both Amanda Polk and Kerry Simmonds raced the quad in Lucerne, but are now back in the boat in which they won gold in 2015. The one race the W8 had this season was in Lucerne where they duly won, but were pushed fairly hard by the British, but they will be stronger in Rio and I can’t see anyone breaking their run of success. The USA to take their third successive Olympic title.

 

With the USA the clear favourites the real interest in this event will be the battle for silver and bronze. This looks like it’ll be a contest between GB, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands. The British have built a formidable unit, and without the pressure of doubling up they will be favourites to take the silver ahead of the Kiwis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rio Olympics Women’s Quad preview

Now time for the W4X

 

Australia

 Australia

Kerry Hore 35

Olympic record: 3rd W4X Athens, 6th W4X Beijing, 4th W4X London

World Championship record: 1st W4X 2003, 7th W1X 2005, 9th W2X 2007, 2nd W2X & 4th W4X 2010, 2nd W2X 2011, 4th W4X 2014, 5th W4X 2015.

2016 record: 5th W4X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W4X Poznan World Cup

Jennifer Cleary 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 8th W4X 2013, 4th W4X 2014, 5th W4X 2015

2016 record: 5th W4X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W4X Poznan World Cup

Madeleine Edmunds 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W4X 2012, 8th W4X 2013, 4th W4X 2014, 5th W4X 2015

2016 record: 5th W4X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W4X Poznan World Cup

Jessica Hall 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 W4X 2012, rep W4X 2013, 4th W4X 2014, 5th W4X 2015

2016 record: 5th W4X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd W4X Poznan World Cup

 

Australia have the most experienced athlete in the event, Kerry Hore. At 35 she’s also the oldest athlete in the event. Rio will mark her 4th Olympic Games, all four of them in the W4X. She was part of the crew in Athens that made history by becoming the first Australian W4X to win an Olympic medal. The other three members of her crew are all Olympic debutants but this quartet have been rowing together as a quad for the past couple of seasons with a best performances of gold at the Sydney World Cup in 2014 and silver at the Lucerne World Cup last year. At the Worlds they’ve narrowly missed out on the medals in both Amsterdam and Aiguebelette. Both Edmunds and Hall were part of the U23 W4X that won gold in 2012 and both then made their senior debuts in 2013 winning a medal at all three World Cups. So far in 2016 the Aussies have had a reasonable season, 5th in Lucerne was a little disappointing, but silver in Poznan showed they will be one of the main medal contenders.

 

 

China

 china-flag

Xinyue Zhang 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st Junior W4X 2009, 2nd W4X 2014, 7th W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th W4X Lucerne World Cup

Ling Zhang 19

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: None

2016 record: 1st W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th W4X Lucerne World Cup

Yuwei Wang 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 5th W2X 2014, 7th W2X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th W4X Lucerne World Cup

Yan Jiang 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 7th W4X 2010, 8th w2X 2011, 2nd W4X 2014, 7th W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 4th W4X Lucerne World Cup

China were champions at their home Games in 2008. But in the London and Rio Olympiads they only made the A-Final at the World Championships twice, finishing 5th in 2011 and winning the silver in 2014. The 2016 crew are all Olympic newbies and the boat includes the youngest athlete in the event, 19 year old Ling Zhang. Zhang made her senior debut at just 16 when she raced at the Eton World Cup in 2013. She returned to the senior squad this season. Xinyue Zhang and Yan Jiang were both in the W4X through 2014 and 2015 finishing 2nd and 7th respectively. The final member of the crew is Yuwei Wang, she raced in the W2X in 2014 and 2015 finishing 5th and 7th. The fact they missed the A-final at the world championships last year meant they had to go through the Final Olympic Qualifying regatta. They stepped up to the challenge and won in Lucerne, securing their place in Rio. They followed that up a few days later with a 4th place in Lucerne.

 

Germany

Germany

Lisa Schmidla 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: Gold: Junior W1X 2009, U23 W2X 2010, U23 W4X 2011, U23 W1X 2013, W4X 2014. Silver: W4X 2015. 13th W1X 2013

2016 record: 1st W4X European Championships, 2nd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st Poznan World Cup

Annekatrin Thiele 25

Olympic record: silver W2X Beijing, silver W4X London

World Championship record: Gold W4X 2013, 2014. Silver W4X 2015. Bronze W4X 2009. 6th w2X 2010, 6th W1X 2011

2016 record: 1st W4X European Championships, 2nd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st Poznan World Cup

Carina Baer 26

Olympic record: silver W4X London

World Championship record: Gold Junior W1 2008, W4X 2013, W4X 2014. Silver U23 W1X 2011, W4X 2015. Bronze U23 W1X 2009, W4X 2010. 7th W2X 2011

2016 record: 1st W4X European Championships, 2nd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st Poznan World Cup

Julia Lier 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: Gold – Junior W8 2008, Junior W2X 2009, U23 W4X 2010, U23 W4X 2011, U23 W4X 2012, W4X 2014. Bronze – W2X 2015. 5th W2X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X European Championships, 2nd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st Poznan World Cup

Germany have dominated this event at the Olympics since it was introduced in 1976, in the 10 Olympics since then a German crew has won 7 of them, and at the world championships their dominance led to a run of seven consecutive gold medals from 1994 to 2002 and a medal of one colour or another at every World Championships since 1990. Since 2003 it’s been a little more open, but the Germans looked set to start another strong run, winning gold in 2011, 2013 & 2014, but the Americans caused a major upset last year, beating the Germans into silver. The crew aiming to uphold the German record are hugely talented, with 16 Junior, U23 and Senior World gold medals between them. The crew includes half of the London 2012 boat that won silver along with Lier and Schmidla, these four women won the World title in 2014, setting a new Worlds Best time in the process, and three of them suffered the shock defeat to the USA in 2015. So far in 2016 they started the season with Marie Catherine Arnold and won gold at the European Championships. But, at Lucerne they suffered another surprise defeat, losing by nearly 2 seconds to the Polish. At the Europeans and Lucerne Lier raced in the W2X, but for Poznan she swapped seats with Arnold taking the crew back to its 2014 configuration, and they delivered gold. It will take something very special to stop the Germans winning their 8th Olympic title. Germany for the gold.

 

 

 

The Netherlands

Netherlands

Nicole Beukers 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 4th W4X 2013, 7th W2X 2014, 3rd W4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd W4X Varese World Cup, 4th W4X European Championships, 3rd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd W4X Poznan World Cup

Chantal Achterberg 31

Olympic record: bronze W8 London

World Championship record: 1st W4- & 3rd W8 2009, 1st W4- & 5th W8 2010, 5th W8 2011, 4th W4X 2013, 7th W4X 2014, 3rd W4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd W4X Varese World Cup, 4th W4X European Championships, 3rd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd W4X Poznan World Cup

Carline Bouw

                Olympic record: bronze W8 London

World Championship record: 1st W4- & 3rd W8 2009, 1st W4- & 5th W8 2010, 5th W8 2011, 7th W4X 2014, 3rd W4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd W4X Varese World Cup, 4th W4X European Championships, 3rd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd W4X Poznan World Cup

Inge Janssen 27

Olympic record: 8th W2X London

World Championship record: 6th W1X 2013, 7th W4X 2014, 3rd W4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd W4X Varese World Cup, 4th W4X European Championships, 3rd W4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd W4X Poznan World Cup

The Dutch have never won a medal in this boat class at the Olympics, their best ever result was 6th in 1980 and 1996. But in the last couple of years the Netherlands have been putting together a really strong squad, across the men and women. The bronze medal won by this quad last year was the first at a World Championships for 20 years. They’ve put together an experienced boat, three of them have Olympic experience, including Achterberg and Bouw who were in the W8 that won bronze in London and Janssen who raced in the W2X. This project has been four years in the making and looks to be coming to its peak at just the right time. At the Varese World Cup this season they had a fantastic contest with the Poles, just missing out on gold by 13/100th of a second. 4th in the difficult conditions in Brandenburg was followed by medals at both Lucerne and Poznan World Cups. My prediction is that the Dutch will win bronze, their first ever Olympic medal in this event.

 

 

 

Poland

poland

Monica Ciaciuch 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W4X 2014, 4th W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X Varese World Cup, 2nd W4X European Championships, 1st W4X Lucerne World Cup, 4th W4X Poznan World Cup

Maria Springwald 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 2nd U23 W4X 2013, 8th W4X 2014, 4th W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X Varese World Cup, 2nd W4X European Championships, 1st W4X Lucerne World Cup, 4th W4X Poznan World Cup

Agnieszka Kobus 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 8th W4X 2011, 8th W4X 2014, 4th W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X Varese World Cup, 2nd W4X European Championships, 1st W4X Lucerne World Cup, 4th W4X Poznan World Cup

Joanna Leszcynka 27

Olympic record: 8th M4X London

World Championship record: 7th W8 2009, 8th W4X 2011, 3rd W4X 2013, 8th W4X 2014, 4th W4X 2015

2016 record: 1st W4X Varese World Cup, 2nd W4X European Championships, 1st W4X Lucerne World Cup, 4th W4X Poznan World Cup

The Polish are another crew who have never medalled in this boat class at an Olympic Games, indeed only once, in 1980, have they made the final. At the World Championships they’ve only medalled once, a bronze in 2013 (which included Leszcynka). They are a young crew and have medal experience, as well as Leszcynka winning senior world bronze, Ciaciuch and Springwald won U23 silver in 2013. Although they narrowly missed a medal in 2015 they started 2016 very strongly, beating the Dutch to the gold in Varese and taking silver at the Europeans. In Lucerne they got their revenge on the Germans and won another gold before finishing just outside the medals in a 4 boat final in Poznan. With this sort of form they must definitely be considered as one of the main challengers to the Germans. I’m going for them to win silver.

 

Ukraine

Ukraine

Daryna Verkhogliad 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 6th W4- 2014, 21st W2X 2015

2016 record: 3rd W4X Varese World Cup, 3rd W4X European championships, 2nd W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Olena Buryak 28

Olympic record: 10th W2X London

World Championship record: 7th W4X 2006, Rep W2X 2007, 1st U23 W4X 2009, 2nd W4X 2010, 7th W4X 2011, 9th W2X 2013, 10th W2X 2014, 11th W4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd W4X Varese World Cup, 3rd W4X European championships, 2nd W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Ievgenia Nimchenko 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 6th W4- 2014, 21st W2X 2015

2016 record: 3rd W4X Varese World Cup, 3rd W4X European championships, 2nd W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Anastasia Kozhenkova 30

Olympic record: Gold W4X London

World Championship record: 1st W4X 2009, 2nd W4X 2010, 4th W2X 2011, 10th W2X 2014

2016 record: 3rd W4X Varese World Cup, 3rd W4X European championships, 2nd W4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta

Ukraine are the defending Olympic champions, but they have one one returner from that crew, Anastasia Kozhenkova. Since those heady heights of London, Ukraine have struggled to find a crew as competitive. They’ve not made the final at any of the World Championships during the Rio Olympiad, and their best performance was 5th at the 2015 European Championships. Heading into 2016 they’ve started to show stronger form, bronze in Varese (out of 4 boats) followed by a 2nd bronze at the European Championships and then the all-important Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta where they finished 2nd, securing the vital final spot for Rio. With Kozhenkova and Buryak this crew has proven medal winners but I think it’s unlikely they will get among the medals in what is a highly competitive field in Rio

 

The USA

USA flag

Megan Kalmoe 32

Olympic record: 5th W2X Beijing, bronze W4X London

World Championship record: 1st U23 W4- 2005, 6th W4X 2009, 5th W4X 2010, 2nd W4X 2011, 5th W4X 2013, 2nd W2- 2014, 1st W4X 2015

2016 record: 7th W4X Lucerne World Cup

Grace Latz 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 3rd W4X 2014, 1st W4X 2015

2016 record: 6th W4X Lucerne World Cup

Adrienne Martelli 28

Olympic record: Bronze M4X London

World championship record: 2nd U23 W8 2009, 3rd W4- 2010, 2nd W4X 2011, 2nd W4- 2014, 1st W4- 2015

2016 record: None

Tracy Eisser 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic record

World Championship record: 3rd W4X 2014, 1st W4X 2015

2016 record: 7th W4X Lucerne World Cup

The Americans produced a huge shock at the Aiguebelette World Championships in 2015 when the brought to an end German’s run of three straight World titles. The foundations for this had been laid during the London Olympiad with the US quad taking 5th in 2010 and silver in 2011 before taking the Olympic bronze in 2012, the first quad medal for the States since 1984. This year’s crew has two of that crew returning, Megan Kalmoe and Adrienne Martelli. Kalmoe is competing at her third Olympic Games and has spent the majority of her senior international career in the W4X (apart from a brief stint in 2014 when she and Kerry Simmonds won silver in the W2-). Martelli is racing at her 2nd Olympics and is a multiple World medallist in both the non-Olympic W4- and the W4X. The line-up for Rio includes three of last year’s gold medal crew, the one change being Martelli replacing Amanda Elmore. The US have only raced once in 2016, with two quads racing at Lucerne. Neither performed particularly well, with the quad of Kalmoe, Eisser, Kerry Simmonds and Kara Kohler finishing last and the 2nd quad of Latz, Amanda Polk, Emily Huelskamp and Olivia Coffey finishing 2nd to last. The two boats were probably more concerned with their own selection battle than the rest of the field, but for 2 boats containing two reigning World Champions to finish so far off the pace is concerning. But, with the section battles settled the US cannot be ruled out of contention for a medal. Ultimately I think they’ll fall short, the competition in so fierce in just a 7 boat contest.

 

So, for the women’s quad I think it’s the Germans to lose, with the Polish in silver and the Dutch in bronze.

Next up….the eights.

The Rio Olympics Men’s Quad Sculls preview

 

Australia

Australia

Karsten Forsterling 30

Olympic record: Bronze M4x London

World Championship record: 7th M8 2002, 5th M8 2003, 6th M4+ 2004, 9th M2- 2005, 4th M8 2006, 8th M8 2007, 3rd M4X 2010, 1st M4X 2011, 2nd M4x 2015

2016 record: 1st M4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st M4x Poznan World Cup

James McRae 29

Olympic record: 4th M4x Beijing, Bronze M4x London

World Championship record: 10th M4x 2007, 3rd M4X 2010, 1st M4X 2011, 13th M2- 2013, 3rd M2X 2014, 5th M2X 2015

2016 record: 1st M4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st M4x Poznan World Cup

Cameron Girdlestone 28

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 15th M4X 2014, 2nd M4X 2015

2016 record: 1st M4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st M4x Poznan World Cup

Alex Belonogoff 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World championship record: 8th M2X 2013, 3rd M2X 2014, 5th M2X 2015

2016 record: 1st M4X Lucerne World Cup, 1st M4X Poznan World Cup

 

Australia won bronze in London following 4th in Beijing and again in Sydney. Their best ever result was silver in 1984. For Rio they have two of the London bronze medal crew back, Karsten Forsterling and James McRae. Forsterling is one of the most experienced members of the Australian team, a sub for the team in Beijing he made his senior debut in 2002 and was one of the crew that won the M4x World Championships in 2011. He took a break after London 2012 bur the draw of a third Olympics brought him back to the team in 2015. McRae is heading for his third Olympics, and his third in the M4X. In 2014 McRae raced in the M2X with Alex Belonogoff taking bronze in 2014. Belonogoff is one of the 2 Olympic debutants in the boat, he’s an U23 bronze medallists in the M4X. The final member of the crew is Cameron Girdlestone made his senior debut in 2014 after racing for the U23 team in 2007. As a quad this crew took silver in 2015 and so far in 2016 have been unbeaten, winning in Lucerne and Poznan. They head into Rio as the form crew and will be very tough to beat. My picks for the gold.

 

Canada

Canada flag

Julien Bahain 30

Olympic record: bronze M4X Beijing, 10th M2X London

World Championship record: 5th M4X 2005, 10th M4X 2006, 2nd M4X 2007, 2nd M2X 2009, 3rd M2X 2010, 3rd M2x 2011, 10th M1X 2014, 11th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta, DNS M4X Lucerne World Cup

Rob Gibson 30

Olympic record: silver M8 London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M8 2006, 2nd M4+ 2006, 14th M4- 2007, 2nd M8 2009, 7th M8 2010, 3rd M8 2011, 14th M4- 2013, 5th M4- 2014, 11th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta, DNS M4X Lucerne World Cup

Pascal Lussier 24

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 7th M4X 2014, 16th M1X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta, DNS M4X Lucerne World Cup

Will Dean 29

Olympic record: 9th M4- London

World Championship record: 7th M4- 2011, 14th M4- 2013, 7th M4X 2014, 11th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta, DNS M4X Lucerne World Cup

One of only two Canadian men’s heavyweight crews qualified for Rio, the M4X got there the hard way, by winning the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta. They aren’t short of Olympic experience, with four Olympic appearances and 2 Olympic medals between them. The most experienced member of the crew is Julien Bahain, who competed for France at both the Beijing and London Olympics winning bronze in China. He’s also got four World Championship medals to his credit. Another Olympian in the crew is Rob Gibson, he was in the M8 that won silver in London and is a former U23 World Champion. The third Olympian in the crew is Will Dean who raced in the M4- in London. Both Gibson and Dean raced in the M4- in 2013 which finished a very disappointing 14th in Chungju. Dean moved back to the quad in 2014 and was followed by Gibson a year later. The final member of the crew, and the only Olympic novice, is Pascal Lussier. The youngest member of the crew, Lussier made his senior debut in 2014 at the Aiguebelette World Cup and won bronze in his first race. After the disappointment of missing qualifying in 2015, the Canadians have made a strong start to 2016, silver in Varese was followed by a good win at the FOQR. At Lucerne the crew withdrew after finishing 4th in their heat to focus on preparing for Rio. The question is can they carry forward that early season form to Rio? I’m not sure they’re quite quick enough to get among the medals but they won’t be far off.

 

 

Estonia

Estonia flag.jpg

Tonu Endrekson 37

Olympic record: 4th M2X Athens, 2nd M2X Beijing, 4th M4X London

World Championship record: 7th M4X 2001, 7th M4X 2002, 7th M4X 2003, 3rd M4X 2005, 3rd M4X 2006, 3rd M2X 2007, 10th M4X 2009, 9th M1X 2010, 16th M4X 2011, 16th M2X 2014, 3rd M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X European Championships, DNS M4X Poznan World Cup

Andrei Jamsa 34

Olympic record: 9th M4X Athens, 17th M1X Beijing, 4th M4X London

World Championship record: 9th M2X 2003, 3rd M4X 2005, 3rd M4x 2006, 10th M4X 2009, 16th M4x 2011, 16th M2X 2014, 3rd M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X European Championships, DNS M4X Poznan World Cup

Allar Raja 33

Olympic record: 9th M4X Beijing, 4th M4X London

World Championship record: 14th M2X 2005, 3rd M4X 2006, 8th M4X 2007, 3rd M2X 2009, 8th M2X 2010, 7th M2X 2011, 5th M4X 2013, 3rd M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X European Championships, DNS M4X Poznan World Cup

Kaspar Taimsoo 29

Olympic record: 9th M4X Beijing, 4th M4X London

World Championship record: 8th M4X 2007, 3rd M2X 2009, 8th M2X 2010, 7th M2X 2011, 5th M4X 2013, 5th M4X 2014, 3rd M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X Varese World Cup, 1st M4X European Championships, DNS M4X Poznan World Cup

The Estonians are the oldest crew in the event, with an average age of 33, but they are also the most experienced, with 10 Olympic appearances between them. The Estonians always have fantastic men’s quads, and have featured in the A-Final at the last three World Championships. Their international experience is second to none, Tonu Endrekson has been racing on the senior international circuit since 2000 and has four World Championship medals to his credit. His team mates are almost as experienced as he is, Andrei Jamsa and Allar Raja made their senior debuts in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The “baby” of the crew, 29 year old Kaspar Taimsoo “only” started his senior career in 2007, but Rio will be his 3rd Olympics. They’ve made a great start to the 2016 season, 4th in Varese, they won the European Championships but then withdrew from Poznan after Allar fell ill after the heat. On their day the Estonians are capable of producing medal winning speed, but, I think in Rio a medal might just be beyond them

 

 

Great Britain

union Jack

Pete Lambert 29

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 14th M1X 2009, 7th M2- 2010, 15th M4- 2011, 3rd M4X 2013, 2nd M4X 2014, 4th M4X 2015

2016 record: 5th M4X European Championships, subbed after falling ill in Lucerne World Cup, 5th M4X Poznan World Cup

Angus Groom 24

2016 record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 3rd U23 M2X 2014

2016 record: 5th M4X European Championships, 2nd M4X Lucerne World Cup, 5th M4X Poznan World Cup

Sam Townsend 30

Olympic record: 5th M2X London

World Championship record: 15th M4X 2007, 12th M2X 2009, 5th M4X 2010, 7th M4X 2011, 3rd M4X 2013, 2nd M4X 2014, 4th M4X 2015

2016 record: 5th M4X European Championships, 2nd M4X Lucerne World Cup, 5th M4X Poznan World Cup

Graeme Thomas 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 3rd M4X 2013, 2nd M4X 2014, 4th M4X 2015

2016 record: 5th M4X European Championships, 2nd M4X Lucerne World Cup, 5th M4X Poznan World Cup

 

Great Britain have never won an Olympic medal in this boat class, indeed their first ever World Championship medal only came in 2013. It wasn’t so long ago that a GB men’s quad (if it existed at all) could be found wallowing at the back of the field. But, not anymore, GB have now stepped up to be serious medal contenders. They came agonisingly close to taking the 2014 World Championships, just being pipped on the line by Ukraine. In 2015, after a season disrupted by injury they just missed the medals. The crew of Charlie Cousins, Pete Lambert, Sam Townsend and Graeme Thomas looked on the verge of becoming the gold medal favourites, but injury has struck again, forcing Charlie Cousins to miss the entire 2016 season. In his place has come one of the rising stars of British sculling, Angus Groom. The 24 year old is and U23 bronze medallist and made his mark at the 2015 European Championships when he finished 4th in the M1X. Sam Townsend is the only member of the crew with Olympic experience having raced in the M2X at London, he’s also been in the quad longer than any of the crew having first raced it in 2007 (when his crew mates included Alex Gregory). He’s seen the boat develop from a mid B-final to medal winner over the past 9 years. Pete Lambert has been competing internationally since 2009 and raced for his native South Africa until 2012 when he moved to the UK and is now an integral part of a very promising quad. So far in 2016 they’ve had some reasonable results, 5th in the maelstrom of the European Championships was followed by an excellent silver in Lucerne (particularly as they were racing with a sub on board). 5th in Poznan was a little disappointing but they head into Rio as one of the leading contenders for a medal. If they race to their potential they could win an historic first Olympic M4X for GB, it may “only” be a bronze, but it would still be an historic achievement for GB.

 

Edit: 2nd August. Graeme Thomas is ill and is out of the Games. Jack Beaumont comes in in his place.

 

Germany

Germany

Hans Gruhne 28

Olympic record: 6th M4X Beijing

World Championship record: 3rd M4X 2007, 4th M4X 2010, 2nd M4X 2011, 5th M2X 2014, 1st M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Poznan World Cup

Lauritz Schoof 25

Olympic record: 1st M4X London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M1X 2009, 4th M4X 2010, 2nd M4X 2011, 2nd M4X 2013, 1st M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X European Championships, 5th M4X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd M4X Poznan World Cup

Karl Schulze 28

Olympic record: 1st M4X London

World championship record: 1st U23 M1X 2010, 10th M1X 2010, 2nd M4X 2011, 2nd M4X 2013, 3rd M4X 2014, 1st M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X European Championships, 5th M4X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd M4X Poznan World Cup

Philipp Wende 31

Olympic record: 1st M4X London

World Championship record: 2nd M4X 2011, 3rd M4X 2014, 1st M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X European Championships, 5th M4X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd M4X Poznan World Cup

Germany have won this event more times than any other nation. The M4X was introduced into the Olympic programme at the Montreal Games, and a German crew (East or West) has won gold at 6 of the 10 Games since. At a World Championship level they are just as dominant having won the world title 6 times since 1993 (more than any other nation). So, quite a lot for the Rio crew to live up to then! They are the defending World and Olympic Champions and for the Rio Games they have selected three of the crew from London and all of the line-up that won gold in Aiguebelette last year. The only member of the crew who didn’t race in London is Hans Gruhne. The 28 year old missed London but was in the M4X that finished 6th in Beijing and has been in and out of the M4X since 2007. But, Gruhne wasn’t originally selected in the boat at the start of 2016, his place was filled by Tim Grohmann and the defending champions struggled. 4th at the Europeans and 5th in Lucerne were not the sort of results expected from the world and Olympic champions. For Poznan Gruhne was brought back into the boat and it had an immediate effect, with the German’s winning a silver medal behind Australia. Now, with the same line-up that won the World championships in 2015 they will, once again, be one of the favourites for gold in Rio. I think it’ll be close but the Aussies may just pip them for gold.

 

Lithuania

Lithuanis

Dominykas Jancionis 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M2X 2013, 6th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X European Championships, 6th M4X Lucerne World Cup

Martynas Dziaugys 29

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 6th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X European Championships, 6th M4X Lucerne World Cup

Aurimas Adomavicius 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M2X 2013, 6th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X European Championships, 6th M4X Lucerne World Cup

Dovydas Nemeravicius 19

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 9th U23 M1X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X European Championships, 6th M4X Lucerne World Cup

Lithuania don’t have much of a track record in this event, Rio will be the first Olympic Games they have qualified this boat for and at the World Championships their best result was 6th last year. They have three of that crew back for 2016, the only change is the replacement of Zygimantas Galisanskis with Dovydas Nemeravicius. He’s an exciting young prospect, having won the U23 M1X World title in 2015 whilst still only 18. The Lituantians are a talented young crew with three of the athletes having won gold at U23 level, as well as Nemeravicius, there’s Dominykas Jancionis and Aurimas Adomavicius who were the U23 M2X World Champions in 2013. The “old man” of the crew is Martynas Dziaugys who raced at U23 level in 2004 and 2005 but didn’t make his senior debut until 2014. So far in 2016 they had an excellent performance in Brandenburg at the European Championships winning silver, their countries first ever medal in the M4X. In Lucerne they made the A-Final which, again, was their best ever finish at a World Cup. They are undoubtedly an exciting young crew but I think Rio may be 2 or 3 years too soon for them. They will have done extremely well to reach the A-Final this time round, but could develop into serious medal contenders for the Tokyo Olympiad.

 

New Zealand

NZ flag

John Storey 29

Olympic record: 7th M4X London

World Championship record: 7th M4X 2010, 10th M4X 2011, 12th M4x 2014, 9th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, 5th M1X Poznan World Cup

Nathan Flannery 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M2X 2012, 14th M4X 2013, 12th M4X 2014

2016 record: 2nd M4X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

Jade Uru 28

Olympic record: 11th M4- London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4- 2009, 3rd M4- 2010, 8th M4- 2011, 13th M4- 2013, 12th M4X 2014, 9th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

George Bridgewater 33

Olympic record: 4th M2- Athens, bronze M2- Beijing

World Championship record: gold M2- 2005, silver M2- 2006, 2007, 9th M4X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M4X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta

The Kiwis are lucky to be in Rio, and I say that in the nicest possible way. Their “luck” comes from the fact that the Russian M4X, winners of the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, were disqualified for doping thus freeing up the spot for the crew that came third….New Zealand. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Kiwis. They had set themselves the target of qualifying for the Olympics and after finishing 9th last year they had to face the FOQR, with only the top 2 to qualify. On the day they came third behind the Russians and Canadians, it looked like their dream was over. This was especially tough on George Bridgewater who had returned to rowing in 2015 following an 8 year break as he “had an itch to scratch” when it came to rowing at the Olympics. But, after Lucerne it looked like it had been in vain. However Rowing New Zealand clearly thought something was up as the M4X were recalled to training a few weeks after the final World Cup, and with the disqualification of the Russians the dream was back on. Expectations on any New Zealand crew are incredibly high, but for the quad an A-Final finish would be an outstanding achievement.

 

 

Poland

poland

Mateusz Biksup 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 10th M4X 2014, 7th M4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M4X Varese World Cup, 7th M4X European Championships, 4th M4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M4X Poznan World Cup

Dariusz Radosz 29

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 5th M8 2011, 10th M4X 2014, 7th M4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M4X Varese World Cup, 7th M4X European Championships, 4th M4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M4X Poznan World Cup

Wiktor Chabel 30

Olympic record: missed qualifying for London

World Championship record: 8th M2X 2009, 14th M2X 2011, 7th M4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M4X Varese World Cup, 7th M4X European Championships, 4th M4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M4X Poznan World Cup

Miroslaw Zietarski 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4X 2013, 2014, 6th M4X 2014, 5th M4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M4X Varese World Cup, 7th M4X European Championships, 4th M4X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M4X Poznan World Cup

Poland dominated this event in the first decade of this century. They won gold at the World championships in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 and the Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008. Since then however they’ve struggled to find a line-up that could reach those heights. Their best result since then was 4th in 2011 and at the three World Championships of this Olympiad they’ve failed to make the A-Final.  Their line-up for Rio are all Olympic debutants (although the eldest of the crew, Wiktor Chabel, missed out on qualifying for London in the M2X). They made the cut for Rio after winning the B-Final at the 2015 World Championships and have certainly made the most of the opportunities to race so far this year. They are the only crew to have raced at all three World Cups and the European Championships and the two bronze medals they won in Varese and Poznan are the first by a Polish M4X since the European Championships in 2013 (and the first at a World Cup since 2010). This strong performance so far this year makes them an outside bet for a medal, although I think they may just fall short.

 

 

 

Switzerland

swiss.jpg

Roman Roeoesli 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4X 2013, 2014, 6th M4X 2014, 5th M4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M2X Varese World Cup, 4th M2X European Championships, 3rd M4X Lucerne World Cup, 4th M4X Poznan World Cup

Nico Stahlberg 24

Olympic record: 12th M4X London

World Championship record: 9th M4X 2011, 6th M4X 2013, 6th M4X 2014, 5th M4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M2X Varese World Cup, 4th M2X European Championships, 3rd M4X Lucerne World Cup, 4th M4X Poznan World Cup

Augustin Maillefer 23

Olympic record: 12th M4X London

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4X 2013, 2014, 6th M4X 2013, 6th M4X 2014, 5th M4X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M4X Lucerne World Cup, 4th M4X Poznan World Cup

Barnabe Delarze 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4X 2013, 2014, 6th M4X 2013, 12th M1X 2014, 5th M4X 2015

2016 record: 4th M4X Poznan World Cup

With an average age of 22 the Swiss are the youngest crew in the event, but they are also one of the main contenders for a medal. Three of the crew won the U23 M4X title in 2013 and 2014 and also finished 6th in the world at the Senior World Championships in 2014. Despite their relative youth tow of the crew already have Olympic experience, Stahlberg and Maillefer both raced in the M4X in London. Stahlberg is the most experienced of the crew having been in the M4X since 2011. He’s the one change to the crew that won back to back U23 World titles. Their preparation this season hasn’t been entirely without incident however, Illness meant that the full line-up weren’t able to race together until the last World Cup in Poznan, where they finished 4th. At the 2nd World Cup, Delarze was replaced by Markus Kessler and the Swiss boys won their countries first World Cup medal since 2003. At the First World Cup and the European Championships, Stahlberg and Roeoesli raced in the M2X taking an excellent bronze (which in turn was the first senior M2X medal the Swiss had won in that event since the 2009 European Championships). This young crew are an outstanding prospect, a medal in Rio is an outside bet, but if they stay together and stay healthy I wouldn’t bet against them to win major medals in the Tokyo Olympiad.

 

 

Ukraine

Ukraine.jpg

Artem Morozov 36

Olympic record: 11th M2X London

World Championship record: 16th M8 2006, 9th M2X 2009, 4th M4X 2013, 1st M4X 2014, 8th M4X 2015

2016 record: 6th M4X European Championships

Olexander Nadtoka 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 1st U23 M4X 2011, 11th M4X 2011, 1st U23 M4X 2012, 4th M4X 2013, 1st M4X 2014, 8th M4x 2015

2016 record: 6th M4X European Championships

Dmytro Mikhay 26

Olympic record: 11th M2X London

World Championship record: 4th M4X 2013, 1st M4X 2014, 8th M4X 2015

2016 record: 6th M4X European Championships

Ivan Dovgodko 27

Olympic record: 9th M4X London

World Championship record: 10th M4X 2010, 1st U23 M4X 2011, 22nd M1X 2011, 4th M4X 2013, 1st M4X 2014, 8th M4X 2015

2016 record: 6th M4X European Championships

In 2014 the Ukrainians only raced at two regattas, the European Championships and the World Championships and won both (the only crew to beat the British throughout the 2014 season) setting a new world’s best time in the process. To say their form is a bit hit and miss is an understatement. When they get it right they are capable of beating anyone and everyone, but if they don’t, like in 2015, then they struggle to make the A-Final. Three of the crew raced in London, with Morozov and Mikhay having raced the M2X to 11th and Dovgodko being the sole survivor from the M4X that finished 9th. As is their style they’ve only made one appearance so far this season, racing at the European Championships and they struggled throughout the regatta, 3rd in the heat and 4th in the Repecharge they ended up last in the A-final. It’s difficult to know what to expect from the Ukrainians in Rio, if they produce the sort of form that won them the world title in 2014 they could well snatch a medal, perhaps even gold, but if they race as they did last year and at this year’s European’s then an A-final placing is about the most they can expect.

 

The M4X promises to be a really close event with the Australians, Germans, British, Poles & Estonians all in with a shout of a medal. In the end I’m going to plump for an Aussie gold with the Germans in silver and the British in bronze