European Championships – my thoughts on the results

A great regatta, some fast times and a few surprises. This is what I thought of the racing….

M1X

Gold Damir Martin (Croatia)

Silver Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic)

Bronze Olaf Tufte

A great tussle between Synek and Martin. The Croatian is excelling in the single. With the World Champion winning quad breaking up the Croats are now, potentially, looking at 2 podiums rather than just one. No doubt the race was being watched very carefully on the other side of the world by Mahe Drysdale. It was also fantastic to see the “old man” Tufte back on the podium. Winning his first international medal since the Munich World Cup back in 2010. Could the double Olympic champion be coming back into form to take a third title?

Another fantastic result was the 4th place of GB’s Angus Groom. In my preview I said that an “A” final finish would be a major achievement, the fact he was fighting it out for a medal with the double Olympic champion is, for me, the best British performance of the whole championships. It’s going to be an intriguing few weeks with Alan Campbell likely to return to the squad. The question is, will he get is seat back in the single? Will there be a race-off between them for the slot. Or, given the disappointing result in the GB M2X will there be a new combination put together….with “super-sub” Jack Beaumont thrown into the mix as well….it’s going to be fascinating.

It was also intriguing to see Mindaugus Griskonis sculled to a standstill in the middle of the race. There are no reports of any injuries, but he went out very fast and perhaps he “blew”…very unusual to see in top class international racing.

M2X

Gold Germany

Silver France

Bronze Ukraine

as soon as it was announced that the Sinkovic’s weren’t racing it was the German’s to lose. Hacker’s another of the “old guard” who has got a new lease of life in the double. This is setting up an enticing contest in Varese when the Croatians should be back (along with the Kiwis, Aussies etc). Have the German’s found a combination that can threaten the Croatians? That remains to be seen.

Perhaps the surprise in this event were the silver and bronze medalists. The French are a relatively new combination and as a nation the French had a good championships with 6 medals in total.

A quick word on the British….a disappointing end to what looked a promising regatta. A great win in the heat was followed by a shock in the semi where they failed to qualify for the final. Then they “only” managed a 2nd place in the “B” final. Collins and Walton are an exceptionally talented double, and on their day they can mix it with the best (as they showed in the heat). But it appears there biggest issue is one of consistency. If they can put together more than one good performance at a regatta then they will be up there. The question may be, as mentioned above….will GB management give them a chance?

M2-

Gold GB

Silver France

Bronze Serbia

Really please to say I got my prediction wrong in this event. The British looked imperious. I had had concerns about GB’s race fitness given that James Foad had hurt his foot a couple of months ago. But, if they weren’t fully race fit then watch out Kiwis when they are! They led at every marker and it was actually the French Olympic silver medalists who had the fight on their hands with the Serbs and they had to launch an almighty sprint to snatch the silver.But, with a crab in the final 10 strokes it nearly all went horribly wrong for the British! Again, it’s going to be mouthwatering in Varese for the 2nd World Cup when the Kiwi’s make their seasons debut.

M4-

Gold GB

Silver Greece

Bronze Belarus

I said in my preview that I thought the field at the Euros wasn’t massively strong. GB certainly had the pedigree in terms of personnel and so it proved. Looking at the splits the British killed the race in the first 500 where they set the fastest time. They were able to watch and cover the moves from the others and didn’t have to unleash a big sprint in the final 100m. It shows the strength in depth of the British crew that no matter who is in the boat, the British win the M4-! The big challenge will be when the American make an appearance later in the season.

M4X

Gold Russia

Silver Ukraine

Bronze GB

The Ukrainians only raced twice last year and won on both occasions so a defeat here to the arch enemies from Russia will be a bitter pill to swallow. The Russian’s have really stepped on from last year where they only managed 11th. The British result, on one hand, was slightly disappointing as they have aspirations to win the world title that they narrowly missed last year. But, with “super-sub” Jack Beaumont stepping in for the mighty Charlie Cousins and other members of the crew shifting seats it was always going to be a struggle to match their form from last year. To win a medal (and set a European Championship record in the rep) is a fantastic achievement. When Charlie comes back into the boat I’m pretty certain they will be the crew to beat.

M8

Gold Germany

Silver GB

Bronze Russia

A great, great race. The Germans put in a massive 3rd 500 to break clear of the British. But, for the GB flagship boat it has been a topsy-turvy regatta. A woeful heat was followed by an excellent rep. In the final they looked good and took the silver as I expected. The positives for GB are that the crew will get strengthened when Stan Louloudis comes in. The rest of the world knows that GB gets faster and faster as the year goes on, so event though the Germans won, they will have been a little anxious about the speed the Brits have shown.

W1X

Gold Knapkova

Silver Gmelin

Bronze Kukhta

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Knapkova won. It was a great race with the top 3 playing cat and mouse toward the back of the field for the first 1500 metres and she then just pressed the accelerator in the final quarter and moved away. It was great to see Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen back in the single and competitive. It looks as though she ran out puff in the final quarter, once she’s fully fit she’ll be right up there. It was a great performance from Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin to take the silver, a big step up from 7th place in Bled.

W2X

Gold Poland

Silver Lithuania

Bronze GB

All the focus in the run up to the championships was the return of Katherine Grainger. As it panned out I thought they would be good enough for silver but they were just edged out in the final sprint by the Lithuanians. I’m not too disappointed, they showed good speed for the majority of the course but just lost the cohesion in the final sprint. That comes from time together in the boat. Both the Poles and the Lithuanians have been rowing together for a number of years. With more time together in the boat the British will have that cohesion to really light the burners (efficiently) in the final stages of the race.

W2-

Gold GB

Silver Netherlands

Bronze Romania

The Dutch had a great semi and matched the British on time. But, when it came to the final the British were imperious and just blew the field away. They are doing in the W2- what the Kiwis have done in the M2- , they own the event and are making other countries look elsewhere for gold. It was all about sending a message to the Kiwis and the Americans to say “this is our event”.

W4X

Gold GER

Silver Netherlands

Bronze Poland

Exactly as I called it and pretty much business as usual. The Germans never looked like being beaten although behind them it was a pretty good battle between the Dutch. Poles and British. For the Brits it was a good, solid performance given some of the results GB has had in this event. definitely something they can build on throughout the season.

W8

Gold Russia

Silver Netherlands

Bronze Romania

The Russians took this from the first stroke and never looked threatened. I was surprised the Romanians were off the pace somewhat. The British were nicely placed to take a medal until something went horrendously wrong in the final 500. Not sure what it was, there was some report of a crab but they lost a length in a matter of a few metres. We’ll have to wait to hear from the crew to see what happened.

That’ll do for the time being. I’ll review the lightweight events tomorrow….

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