World Championships – Review

Wow, what a fantastic championships….all the comments from those who were there have said what an enjoyable regatta it was. Some of the athletes (and team managers) will be happier than others with the end results, but here are a few thoughts from me and a review of how I got one with my predictions.

first of all here are a few interesting stats;

– For the Able-Bodied events a total of 15 different nations won one of the 22 gold medals, a bigger spread than at any other World Championships. For the Olympic events it was 12 different nations winning the 14 events.

– Italians Vincenzo and Guiseppe Abbegnale become the first father and son duo to win the same event at a World Championships (the M2+)

I find it interesting looking at how the bigger nations perform in converting entries to finalists to medallists…
(2011 figures in italics)

Australia:
44% (81%) entries made the final (7/16)
57% (62%) finalists won a medal (4/7)
14% (23%) finalists won gold (1/7)

Canada:
44% (46%) entries made the final (4/9)
75% (67%) finalists won a medal (3/4)
0% (0%) finalists won gold

GBR:
71% (82%) entries made the final (12/17)
58% (86%) finalists won a medal (7/12)
17% (36%) finalists won gold (2/12)

Germany:
68% (70%) entries made the final (13/19)
54% (50%) finalists won a medal (7/13)
8% (14%) finalists won gold (1/13)

Italy:
60% (65%) entries made the final (12/20)
58% (73%) finalists won a medal (7/12)
25% (18%) finalists won gold (3/12)

The Netherlands:
77% (50%) entries made the final (10/13)
30% (20%) finalists won a medal (3/10)
20% (0%) finalists won gold (2/10)

New Zealand:
50% (79%) entries made the final (7/14)
71% (82%) finalists won a medal (5/7)
14% (36%) finalists won gold (1/7)

USA
55% (50%) entries made the final (12/22)
58% (36%) finalists won a medal (7/12)
17% (18%) finalists won gold (2/7)

Now onto to reviewing the racing….

M1X
My predictions…gold CZE, Silver GER, Bronze NZL
Actual result….gold CZE, silver CUB, bronze GER
well, I said that Synek looked imperious and so it proved. He went undefeated all season and was not seriously troubled in Korea. The performance of the event for me was Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba. I thought he would make the “A” final but I didn’t think he’d be amongst the medals…also he’s the coolest guy in Korea, he stopped racing 5 metres before the line crossing less than 0.5sec ahead of Hacker….that certainly made the commentators sit up!
Biggest surprise was Mahe….just goes to show that there are no shortcuts when racing at the World Championships!

M2X
My predictions…NZL, ITA, GBR
Actual result…NOR, LTU, ITA
Viking power…All season I’ve been saying that Borch & Hoff hadn’t fulfilled the promise they showed….well, now they have, they also take the award for the best celebrations! The Kiwis promised so much this season and came into the championships undefeated. But, rumours are that Michael Arms was carrying a back injury, which may go some way to explaining their disappointing result. Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas also had a regatta to forget. On form they were looking good for a bronze, but the semi was a disaster as was the B final. 9th is not the true reflection of their speed, they’ll be back next year (as will the Kiwis).

M2-
My predictions….NZL, ITA, AUS
Actual results….NZL, FRA, NED
Another routine win! but I misread the speed of the Aussies, I thought they would be strong A final contenders. But, the class of the field rose to the top, the French showed the same sort of speed they had at the Olympics and the Dutch produced a stormer to take the bronze. I would also say how impressive the performance of the GB crew, Ollie Cook & James Foad was. They were only together for 3 weeks and produced a great series of races to take the B final.

M4X
My predictions…CRO, GER, GBR
Actual results…CRO, GER, GBR
Pretty pleased with my call on this one! The only bit I got wrong was that GB would take the bronze from the Estonians, whereas it was the Ukrainians who pushed them the hardest. The Croatians were stunning. I love watching them race, they have a huge, ripping finish that just looks so damn powerful. There was never any doubt they would take the gold. The British were awesome, winning the first ever championship medal in this event and they almost took out the Germans.

M4-
My predictions…AUS, CAN, USA
Actual results…NED, AUS, USA
What a race from the Dutch….I don’t think anyone predicted that they would take the win, their final 500m was truly awesome. I was very surprised at the performance of the Canadians….they had some big, big names in that boat…3 Olympic silver medallists….but 2nd in the C final?! I make that the worst performance by an Olympic medallist at the regatta (along with Drysdale, but he withdrew with an injury). I’ll be interested to know why their performance was so far off what these athletes are capable of.
I got grief from some in the States for saying they would “only” take bronze, but, I still maintain they peaked too soon and so it proved. Bronze is the same as they did at the Olympics and is certainly a building point for this Olympiad. It’ll be very interesting to see these battles develop in the next few years.

M8
My predictions…GBR, GER, USA
Actual results…GBR, GER, USA
Needless to say I’m pretty pleased to call this one right! It also meant that Matt Pinsent and I won our bet with Sean Wolf…just waiting to organise the delivery of my winnings now!
As for the race, you have to say Jurgen Grobler is an absolute master at getting his crews to peak at just the right time. The 2nd 500 was truly something, James Cracknell called it the best 500 he’s ever seen from a GB M8 (and that includes the Olympic Gold medal crew from 2000), and who am I to argue!
I still wish the Kiwis had let their U23 World Champion crew have a bash!

W1X
My predictions…CZE, AUS, NZL
Actual results…AUS, NZL, CZE
all the right medallists, just not in the right order! Kim Crow was awesome. She totally dominated the event and looked untroubled all week. One wonders what would have happened if she’d just done the one event at London 2012…It was also a great result by Austria’s Magdelena Lobnig. 4th is a hell of a result, especially defeating Logan.
It was also a great performance from Vicky Thornley from GB winning the B final. She is developing fast as a single sculler, and if GB Rowing give her the chance, she could become a major medal contender by Rio.

W2X
My predictions…NZL, LTU, GBR
Actual results..LTU, NZL, BLR
My prediction was based on Vistartaite doubling up in the W1X. The fact she scratched to concentrate on the W2X really meant that she and young partner Milda Valciukaite moved into the favourites slot. Valciukaite is an incredible athlete, I can’t think of too many athletes that win the senior world title the year after winning the junior title. Behind them were the Belorussians, including Ekaterina Karsten, showing the old girl’s still got it! Karsten’s old enough to be Valciukaite’s mother…there’s a 22 year age gap!!
4th for GB wasn’t what I’d predicted but is probably a more realistic result. They have the potential to medal if they can put together a consistent series of races. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens with the GB women’s squad in 2014…will Katherine Grainger make a comeback, will Anna Watkins return following the birth of her first child??? If they do come back they are 2 pretty big names to return to the scene.

W2-
My predictions….GBR, NZL, ROU
Actual results…GBR, ROU, NZL
Another totally dominating performance from Helen Glover and Polly Swann…one of 3 crews who went undefeated this year (along with the NZ M2- and Ondrej Synek in the M1X). The US obviously had a game plan to try and unsettle the Brits by blasting off in the first 300m. But, the British were unfazed and moved through comfortably. This was an all-or-nothing ploy by the Americans and ultimately cost them a medal. The Romanians tool up the challenge but no-one was going to get close to the British. As with the GB W2X it’ll be fascinating to see what happens when Heather Stanning returns from active service. Does she slot back into the pair, or does she strengthen the W8??

W4X
My predictions….GER, AUS, USA
Actual results…GER, CAN, POL
Again, it was never in doubt. Germany are desperate to reclaim this event as their own, and, at Chungju, they have succeeded. But, the big surprise were the Canadians. Not a particularly star-studded crew, but they produced a superb scull to take the silver. The USA will be a bit disappointed with 5th with a crew full of Olympic medallists. But, it does prove that the US isn’t just about the W8….speaking of which….

W8
My predictions….USA, ROU, GBR
Actual results….USA, ROU, CAN
As with the M2- this race was all about the race for the minor medals. The US are such a dominant, powerful crew that no-one was going to get close. Perhaps some of the other crews suffered with the doubling up, but even fresh as a daisy they wouldn’t have beaten the Americans. The British will be a little bit disappointed with 4th, but they are a very good, strong crew, and who knows how they may be strengthened next year….Grainger…Stanning…its going to be interesting!

LM2X
My predictions….ITA, GBR, POL
Actual results….NOR, SUI, GBR
Those Vikings again…what a race. The Swiss have also had an excellent regatta. They had a fantastic battle with the Chambers boys from GB. The Brits looked good for a silver but ran out of steam in the final 100m. To see them at the end of the race, unable to stand shows how much they put into the race, they really left it all out on the water. But, there is no denying that the event was poorer with the loss of the French.
Next year is going to be very,very interesting. The French will be back and its highly likely that the Chambers boys will go back into LM4-. Zac Purchase is most likely coming back and it’ll be interesting to see who partners him. Also, what will Peter Taylor do? Will he stay in the 4 or go back to the double?? And will the Danes finally find a combination that gets the best out of Stephansen??

LM4-
My predictions…NZL, DEN, GBR
Actual results….DEN, NZL, GBR.
The Kiwis came into this regatta undefeated, but apparently Peter Taylor struggled to hit weight meaning the rest of the crew had to give an extra kilo. When these guys are so close to the limit it’s a big ask to lose more without it costing in terms of performance. Did it influence the result?…I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. The Danes were incredible. Off at 51 they grabbed the race from the scruff of the neck and never let go….it was a masterclass in LM4- racing. The South Africans will be disappointed with 6th….3 of them are the Olympic champions after all! The US will be pleased with 5th, an A final appearance is a major step forward for US lightweight rowing. As mentioned above it’ll be very interesting to see what happens with this event next year. The Chambers brothers are likely to switch from the LM2X and Peter Taylor could go the other way….but they will have to do something special to get ahead of the Danes.

EDIT 5th September: Peter Taylor has denied that he struggled with making weight, and Martin Cross has apologised believeing the information came from a reliable source.

LW2X
My predictions…ITA, USA, GBR
Actual results…ITA, USA, GER
Well, I called the top two right! The Italians are a superb double and held the form they showed at Lucerne taking lengths out of the field and being able to watch the rest of the world scrapping for the minor placings. It was a great battle between the US and the Germans who really stepped up from Lucerne. The British will be relatively satisfied with 4th but they would have loved a medal. We will have to see what happens with this double next year if Olympic champion Kath Copeland makes a comeback.

finally a comment on the LM1X
My predictions… DEN, FRA, POR
Actual results…DEN, FRA, HUN
A brilliant, brilliant battle between Stephansen & Azou. Possibly one of the events of the championships. The surprise for me was the performance of Peter Galambos of Hungary. I thought he would squeeze into the A final, I didn’t expect him to get a medal with the likes of Pedro Fraga, Andrew Campbell and Duncan Grant in the line-up. But it’s another example of an athlete peaking at just the right time. I know the US supporters are disappointed with Andrew Campbell’s regatta, missing out on the A final when many thought he could beat Stephansen. But, perhaps he was “over-raced”, or perhaps it’s just a reflection of the quality of the field. A B final win is some consolation.

A couple of other comments, the doping issue with the US LM2- cast a shadow over the regatta. Flood & Petrucci admitted to taking Glycerol (a banned substance as it can be used a a masking agent). They subsequently failed a drugs test. However they were given little more than a slap on the wrist and were allowed to race in Chungju. A number of athletes have expressed disquiet at this and GB M4- member, Nathanial Reilly-O’Donnell has written an excellent blog on the subject which raises a number of concerns about how this issue has been handled by USADA and FISA. You can read it here:
In my opinion I think this has been badly handled both by USADA and FISA and has done nothing to promote the clean image of the sport. No doubt everyone will have their own opinion but it is disappointing to say the least.

The other point I wanted to mention was the LM8. It is a great shame that only 3 crews entered, but it is a little farcical that all three crews were awarded a medal. I can’t think of any other instance were the last placed finisher wins a medal. Personally I think that a full set of medals (gold, silver & bronze) should only be awarded when there is a minimum of 5 entries. Any less and it should be just the gold. It must have been a bit embarrassing for the US guys collecting their medals.

So, in the end how did I do?
12/22 gold medallists correct (9/14 Olympic events). For all medals I picked 26 right medal/right nation (39%), 22 right nation/ wrong medal (33%)…so in total I picked 48 medallists (73%)…I’m satisfied with that!!

Now the speculation can begin for the 2014 season!

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3 thoughts on “World Championships – Review

  1. Larry

    Just wanted to say jolly good job. I enjoy reading your comments both here and on rowing illustrated. Keep on with the commentary.

    Reply

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