The Rio Olympic Women’s single scull preview

Algeria

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Amina Rouba

Age: 30

Olympic record: 30th W1X London

World Championship record: 11th LW1X 2011, 18th LW1X 2012, 12th LW1X 2014, 18th LW1X 2015

2016 record: 2nd African Qualifying regatta, 9th LW1X Varese World Cup

Rouba will be the sole Algerian representative at the Olympic Regatta and the first Algerian woman to row at the Olympics since Samia Hierche in 1996. She is coached by former French international Vincent Tassery and has been fine tuning her Olympic preparations in France. She’s already got one Olympics under her belt and is a strong and consistent lightweight performer. Stepping up to the heavyweight division is always going to be a challenge but she’s won her place on merit having finished 2nd at the African Qualifying Regatta. So far this season she’s raced at one World Cup finishing 9th out of 10 in Varese.

 

Argentina

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Lucia Palermo

Age: 30

Olympic record: 17th LW2x Athens, 21st W1X London

World Championship record: 12th LW2X 2013, 19th LW2X 2014

2016 record: 14th LW2X Lucerne World Cup, 7th at the Americas Qualifying Regatta

Heading for her third Olympics Palermo is one of the most experienced competitors in the field. Another lightweight taking on the heavyweight division she has had most success in the lightweight double with partner Maria Gabriela Best, winning gold at the South American Championships in 2012. In 2015 she raced at the Pan American Games picking up a bronze medal in the LW1X.  On the world stage she has a best performance of 5th at the Munich world Cup in 2012. She finished 7th at the Latin American Qualifying regatta, but with Brazil, Chile and Cuba all declining taking up their spots she was promoted to 4th and will be headed to her 3rd Olympic Games.

 

Australia

Crowe

Kim Brennan

Age: 30

Olympic record: 10th W2- Beijing, 2nd W2X London, 3rd W1X London

World Championship record: 3rd W8 2006, 4th W8 2007, 4th W2- 2007, 5th W2- 2009, 2nd W2X 2010, 4th W4X 2010, 2nd W2X 2011, 1st W1X 2013, 2nd W1X 2014, 1st W1X 2015

2016 record: 1st W1X Lucerne and Poznan World Cups

Brennan heads to Rio as the favourite to take the gold, indeed she is one of Australia’s strongest medal hopes in Rio. She’s already got two Olympic under her belt and has a silver and bronze medal from the London Games. It’s possible that one of these medals could’ve been gold if she hadn’t had to race in two events. In the run up to the Games her doubles partner, Brooke Pratley, was injured and was doubtful for the Games. The decision was taken for Brennan (nee Crow) to try and qualify the W1X at the final Qualifying Regatta. This would mean that she was secure for a seat at London but if Pratley recovered Kim could only race the double if she also raced the single. Pratley did make the start line in London and she and Brennan played 2nd fiddle to the Grainger & Watkins show in the W2X…would the result have been different if the Aussie wasn’t doubling-up? We’ll never know. Since focusing on the W1X Brennan has emerged as the dominant figure. Winning gold at the world Championships in 2013 and 2015. Since the Olympic Games only one woman has ever beaten Brennan in the w1X and that’s New Zealand’s Emma Twigg. The showdown between Brennan and Twigg at the Poznan world Cup was one of the most eagerly anticipated contests of the summer. In the end the Australian took a comfortable victory, giving her the prime position heading into the Olympics.

 

Austria

Lobnig Euros

Magdalena Lobnig winning the W1X photo: Detlev Seyb myrowingphoto.com

Magdalena Lobnig

Age: 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 4th W1X 2013, 5th W1X 2014, 9th W1X 2015

2016 record: 8th W1X Varese World Cup, 6th W1X Lucerne world Cup, 5th W1X Poznan world Cup, 1st W1x European Championships

Lobnig has established herself as one of the most consistent performers in the women’s single scull field. After a successful U23 career in crew sculling boats which culminated in the World title in 2012 she moved to the single scull. Between 2013 and the 2015 World championships she made the A-Final at every regatta she entered, including taking silver at the 2013 European Championships. This run was broken at the 2015 World Championships where she could only manage 9th. In 2016 she started as she left off – missing her 2nd A-Final in a row. But since then it’s been business as usual. She won the European Championships and made the A-final at both the 2nd and 3rd World Cups. With her consistency apparently back she will be a strong contender to make the A-Final in Rio.

 

Bahamas

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Emily Morley

Age: 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: none

2016 record: 10th Americas Qualifying regatta

Morley has secured her place in Bahamian sporting history by becoming the first woman rower to qualify for the Olympics. Indeed, when she raced at the Americas Qualifying Regatta she became the first Bahamian woman to ever compete internationally in rowing. She was born in Nassau and moved to the USA when she was 15. She now studies at Ithaca College in New York. Her father, David, competed for the Bahamas in the swimming events at the 1984 Olympics.

 

Bermuda

Pearson

Michelle Pearson

Age: 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: None

2016 record: 9th W1X Poznan World Cup

There haven’t been too many Bermudan representatives in the rowing at the Olympics but Michelle Pearson looks set to change that. She has a formidable rowing pedigree, a two-time junior world champion racing for the USA she attended Harvard and stroked the Radcliffe crew to the Ivy League Championships. In 2014 she went up to Oxford to study for a Masters in Childhood development and education, and despite suffering from a cyst in her pelvis won a Blue in one of the best women’s Blue Boats in history in the 2015 crew that raced on the Tideway course for the first time in the races history. She trialled unsuccessfully for the Great Britain team but has now established herself as a serious contender in the single for her native Bermuda. She won the America’s qualifying regatta and placed 9th at the Poznan World Cup. A B-Final finish in Rio will be a great achievement.

 

Belarus

Karsten

Ekaterina Karsten

Ekaterina Karsten

Age: 44

Olympic record: bronze W4X Barcelona, Gold W1X Atlanta, Gold W1X Sydney, Silver W1X Athens, Bronze W1X Beijing, 5th W1X London

World Championship record: Gold – W1X 1997, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009. Silver – W1X 2002, W4X 2003, W1X 2010, 2011. Bronze – W4X 1991, W1X 2001, W2X 2001, W4X 2002, W1X 2003, 2013. 7th W2X 1993, 5th W2X 1994, 7th W1X 1995

2016 record: 2nd W1X Varese World Cup, 4th W1X European Championships, 7th W1X Poznan

What can I say about Ekaterina Karsten apart from she is a true legend of the sport. Rio will be her 7th Olympic Games, SEVENTH!! She has two Olympic gold, one silver and two bronze medals, and she also has six World Championship titles to her name. At 44 she’s probably not the dominant force she was ten years ago but her performances so far this season have proven she still got to be counted as a major challenger. The length of time she’s spent at the top of the rowing world is astonishing. She won her first World Championship medal before ten of her fellow Rio competitors were even born. Her first World championship medal came in the days when Belarus was part of the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev was in charge! The Belarus coaches have tried to utilise her skills in crew sculling boats but without much success. She’s far, far happier in the single scull and her results are also better. She was due to race the W2X in Varese but switched to the single at the last minute due to an injury to her partner and she showed she’s still capable of winning medals by taking silver. She is a true legend of the sport and a medal at what will surely be her final international race, would be a fitting climax to a stellar career stretching back over 25 years. There’s been a lot of debate recently about whether Serena Williams is the greatest female athlete of all time….well, for me, it’s Ekaterina Karsten.

 

Canada

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Carling Zeeman

Age: 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 6th W4X 2014, 6th W1X 2015

2016 record: gold W1X Varese World Cup, 5th W1X Lucerne World Cup

Canada have not had the greatest of Olympiads. The men’s team have underperformed and the women’s sweep team have been knocked off their perch as the no.2 W8. One of the few bright sparks for the Canucks however has been the emergence of Carling Zeeman as a genuine medal contender in the W1X. She made her international debut in 2012 at the U23 World Championships and won bronze in the single scull. The following year she went one better and took silver. She also made her senior World Championship debut in 2013 taking a superb silver in the W4X. 2014 was a little disappointing as the quad couldn’t follow up the silver with another medal and finished 6th. In 2015 Zeeman switched to the single and reached the A-Final at the World Championships. She had more success at the Pan-Am Games in Toronto where she won gold in the W1X and W4X. She started 2016 with a bang taking gold at the Varese World Cup. In Lucerne she again made the A-final finishing 5th. She’s established herself as a strong A-final contender and a possible wildcard for a medal. A former student at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Zeeman was a speed skater and then volleyball player before she found rowing.  One of the fastest women in the world on the ergo she has a personal best of 6:29. Competition for a medal in Rio is going to be fierce, but if Zeeman remains injury-free and committed to the Tokyo Olympiad, she could become one of the stars of 2020.

 

China

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Jingli Duan

Age: 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 8th W1X 2010, 8th W1X 2011, 3rd W1X 2014, 3rd W1X 2015

2016 record: 4th W1X Lucerne World Cup

Duan made her international debut at the Bled World Cup in 2010 racing as the China 2 W2X with Ziwei Jin. They made the A-Final and finished 5th 3 places and 13 seconds behind the no.1 Chinese boat. She ended up representing China in the W1X at the 2010 World Championships and had a strong performance finishing 8th overall. She missed out on selection for London 2012 and didn’t race internationally in 2013. She returned to the fray in 2014 in the single scull and made an immediate impact, medalling at both the Sydney and Aiguebelette World Cups. A great season was topped off with a bronze medal at the World Championships. She won another World medal in 2015 and so far this year has produced two strong performances at the Poznan and Lucerne World Cups making the final on both occasions, although she missed out on the medals.

 

Czech Republic

Knapkova

Mirka Topinkova Knapkova.

Age: 35

Olympic record: 4th W1X Athens, 5th W1X 6th W2X Beijing, 1st W1X London

World Championship record: 10th W1X 2001, 4th W1X 2003, 2nd W1X 2005, 2nd W1X 2006, 4th W11X 2007, 3rd W1X 2009, 4th W1X 2010, 1st W1X 2011, 3rd W1X 2013, 7th W1X 2014, 2nd W1X 2015

2016 record: 13th W1X Varese World Cup, 6th W1X European Championships, 3rd W1X Poznan World Cup

Knapkova has been one of the leading lights of the international sculling scene for over a decade. It’s somewhat surprising that she’s “only” won one world title. She’s another sculler who is renowned for her consistency, between 2002 and 2014 she never failed to make an A-Final, that’s 49 consecutive regattas…49!! This spectacular run came to an abrupt end at the 2014 World Championships where she finished 7th. She got back on track in 2015 with medals at the Europeans, the 1st and 3rd World Cups and then a silver at the World Championships. The 2016 season got off to a very ropey start with an inexplicable performance at the Varese World Cup when she finished 13th, the worst performance in her entire career stretching back to 2001. Both she and her coaches were bemused at what caused this poor performance. She recovered a little at the Europeans, scraping into the A-Final and then improved again at the Lucerne World Cup where she won her first medal of the season, a bronze (the 25th World Cup medal of her career). The question is, was the performance at Varese just a blip?

 

Denmark

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Fie Udby Erichsen

Age: 31

Olympic record: 2nd W1X London

World Championship record: 9th W2- 2005, 6th W2- 2006, 10th W2- 2007, 3rd W4- 2008, 10th W2X 2009, 14th W1X 2011, 11th W1X 2014, 14th W1X 2015

2016 record: 7th W1X Varese World Cup, 4th European Qualifying Regatta, 6th Poznan World Cup

At the London Olympics Fie Udby Erichsen became the first Danish woman to race in the Olympic W1X final since Trine Hansen in 1996. Not only was she the first to race in 16 years she then became the first Danish woman to win an Olympic W1X medal when she won silver behind Mirka Knapkova. It was a great achievement for Erichsen and a relief after the heartbreak of just missing out on qualifying for the Beijing Games in the W2- when her regular pairs partner was injured shortly before qualifying. The run up to the 2012 was extremely tough as she suffered a severe back injury in 2010. She recovered enough to qualify via the Final Qualifying Regatta and stunned many of her rivals by taking the silver medal – that medal was only her 2nd in her senior career (the 1st being a bronze in the W4- at the 2008 World Championships) and her 1st senior sculling medal in a career stretching back to 2005. After London she took some time off to have a family, but returned in 2014. She had the pressure of having to go through the final qualifying regatta again and her 4th place gave her the final qualifying spot for Rio. It’s probably too much to ask for her to repeat the heroics of four years ago but it’s great to see her back racing.

 

Egypt

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Heba Ahmed

Age: 31

Olympic Record: 26th W1X Beijing

World Championships record: none

2016 record: 4th African Qualifying Regatta

Heba Ahmed (nee Hassan) is one of Egypt’s most experienced female athletes. She’s already got one Olympics under her belt (and was notable as one of the first rowers to compete wearing a hijab). She’s secured the spot at her 2nd Olympics by finishing 4th at the African Qualifying regatta. She’s also got plenty of international experience to her credit with a bronze medal at the 2007 All Africa Games and another at the 2015 African Championships. She’s competed at one World Cup back in 2009 finishing 10th in the W2X in Banyoles.

 

Indonesia

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Dewi Yuliawati

Age: 19

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 26th W1X 2015

2016 record: 6th Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta

The youngest competitor in the field, Yuliawati only took up rowing in 2014 and she becomes the first Indonesian woman rower ever to qualify for the Olympic Games. It’s a remarkable achievement for someone so young and so new to the sport. She already has some international silverware having won a silver medal at the 2015 Asian Rowing championships. The challenge for competitors such as Yuliawati is to get as high up the field as possible and in particular try and beat the opposition from her own continent and the matching herself against the other athletes from the developing rowing nations.

 

Ireland

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Sanita Puspure

Age: 34

Olympic record: 13th W1X London

World Championship record: 12th W2x 2011, 4th W1X 2014, 11th W1X 2015

2016 record: 3rd W1X Varese World Cup, 3rd W1X European Championships, 2nd W1X Final Qualifying Regatta

Born in Latvia, Puspure moved to Ireland in 2006 when her husband got a job in Dublin. She competed at U23 level for Latvia finishing 4th in the W4X in 2002 and 12th in the W1X in 2003. In 2011 she gained Irish citizenship and was immediately selected for the Irish rowing squad finishing 12th at the World Championships that year. In 2012 she qualified for the Olympics via the final qualifying regatta and in doing so became the first Irish representative in the W1X at an Olympic Games since Francis Cryan in 1980. In 2014 she made a massive step on by finishing just outside the medals at the World Championships (the best performance by an Irish W1X at a world championships). In 2016 she secured her place at Rio with a strong 2nd place at the Final Qualifying regatta and won Ireland’s first ever W1X World Cup medal when she took bronze in Varese. This was followed up with another bronze at the European championships. She might not have the firepower to get among the medals but I strongly expect Puspure to be pushing for an A-Final finish in Rio.

 

Iran

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Masha Javar

Age: 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 14th U23 LW2X 2014

2016 record: 2nd Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta

Iran has quite a good record of qualifying for the Olympics, they have had a W1X representative at both the 2008 and 2012 Games. Javar first competed internationally at the Aiguebelette World Cup in 2014 when she was part of the W4X that finished 11th (out of 11). She also raced at the U23 world Championships that year in the light double finishing 14th out of 18. In 2015 she raced at the Gwangju Universiade finishing 8th. She’s earned her spot in Rio by finishing 2nd at the Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta in Chungju South Korea. Her challenge will be to better the performance of compatriot, Solmaz Abasiazad, who finished 24th in London.

 

Korea

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Ye-Ji Kim

Age: 21

Olympic record: 19th W1X London

World championship record: 12th W2X 2013, 24th W2X 2015

2016 record: 20th w1X Poznan world Cup, 1st W1X Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta

Ye-Ji Kim has established herself as one of the leading scullers in Asia (outside of China). In 2012 she raced at both the Junior World Championships and the Olympics, ironically she performed better at the Olympics than at the Junior worlds (finishing 19th in London but 25th at the Juniors!) In 2013 she moved up to the U23 World Championships finishing 19th and then competed in the W2X with Arum Kim at the senior World Championships finishing an excellent 12th . She didn’t race at a worlds regatta in 2014, instead focussing on the Asian Games which was held on her home water in Chungju. This focus paid dividends as she took gold in the W1X. In 2015 she again raced the U23’s and the senior Worlds finishing 13th in at the U23’s and 24th at the senior Worlds, she also raced at the 2015 Universiade finishing 9th overall. She obviously likes racing at Chungju as she followed up her Asian Games win in 2014 with a win at the Asia & Oceania Olympic Qualifying Regatta, securing her spot at her 2nd Olympic Games.

 

Kazakhstan

Germanovich

Svetlana Germanovich

Age: 29

Olympic record: 25th W1X London

World Championship record: 15th W2X 2007, 25th W1X 2015

2016 record: 5th Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta

Another returner from the London 2012 Games, Germanovich made her international debut at the 2007 World Championships finishing 15th in the double with Mariya Filimonova. Her next appearance on the world stage was at London 2012. After the Olympics she raced in the double at the 2014 Asian Games picking up a silver medal behind a very strong Chinese double. She moved to the single scull in 2015 racing at the Aiguebelette World Championships taking 25th overall. She qualified for Rio by finishing 5th at the Asia and Oceania Qualifying regatta. She’s another sculler who’ll be looking to improve on her previous Olympic performance.

 

Lithuania

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Lina Saltyte

Age: 29

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 12th W4X 2007, 13th W2X 2009, DNS W2X 2011, 10th W1X 2014, 8th W1X 2015

2016 record: 5th W1X European Championships, 10th W1X Lucerne World Cup

Saltyte has been a regular on the international scene since her senior debut in 2007. She spent the early years of her international career in a double with Gabriele Albertaviciute with their best performance coming at the Munich World Cup in 2011 when they finished 7th. In 2012 she switched to the single scull but missed selection for the London Olympics. During this Olympiad she’s made steady progress in the single finishing 7th at the 2014 European Championships and 10th in the world. 2015 saw her take a step forward in her career when she made her first Senior A-final finishing 4th at the Europeans, she followed this up with a superb gold medal at the 2015 Universiade in Gwangju beating London 2012 gold medallist Natalia Dovgodko of Ukraine into silver. She then raced at the senior World Championships and secured the spot for Rio with an excellent 8th place. An A-final finish in Rio is probably beyond her, but a solid B-Final placing would be a great achievement.

 

Mexico

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Kenia Lechuga Alanis

Age: 22

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 12th LW1X 2015

2016 record: 14th W1X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd Americas Olympic Qualifying regatta

As with a number of athletes from the developing rowing nations, Alanis is a lightweight who is stepping up to race open-weight in order to be able to compete at the Olympics. She made her international debut at the Junior Worlds in 2012 finishing 17th in the JW2X. In 2013 she stepped up to the U23’s and came 4th in the C-Final in the LW1X. She stepped up again to the senior ranks in 2015 racing in the LW1X at the World Championships finishing 12th. She also raced at the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015 just missing out on a medal in the LW1X by 3/10th of a second behind Lucia Palermo of Argentina. She qualified for Rio with a strong 3rd place at the America’s Qualifying Regatta and had her first taste of open-weight W1X competition when she raced at the Lucerne World Cup finishing 14th overall. A B-final placing would be a major achievement for the Mexican in Rio although I think it more likely she’ll be in the C-final.

 

Nigeria

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Chierika Ukogu

Age: 23

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 24th W1X 2015

2016 record: 17th W1X Lucerne World Cup

Chierika “Coco” Ukogu learnt to row at Mount St Joseph’s school and then as a student at Stanford University in the USA. She watched Djibo Issaka Hamadou from Niger finish last at the London Olympics and became determined to represent her country at the Rio Olympics. Having had a successful sweep oar career at Stanford she set herself the target of learning to scull and qualifying for Rio. Born and raised in Philadelphia she sees herself as a figurehead for her country, gender and colour to breakdown the myth that rowing is a “white” sport. Her progress from student rower to international came to fruition at the 2015 World Championships where she finished 24th of the 30 starters. This then led to the African Qualifying Regatta and her best performance in the single, taking 3rd and getting her name into the draw for the Olympics and her place in history as the first Nigerian to row at the Olympics.

 

New Zealand

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Emma Twigg

Age: 29

Olympic record: 9th W1X Beijing, 4th W1X London

World Championship record: 7th W8 2006, 6th W1X 2007, 4th W1X 2009, 3rd W1X 2010, 3rd W1X 2011, 2nd W1X 2013, 1st W1X 2014

2016 record: 2nd W1X Poznan World Cup, 1st European Olympic Qualifying Regatta

All the talk in the build up to Rio is that the gold medal in the W1X is going to be a two-way fight between Kim Brennan of Australia and Emma Twigg of New Zealand. As mentioned above, Kim Brennan has only been beaten by one woman during this Olympiad and that woman is Emma Twigg of New Zealand. Indeed the rivalry between these two could well be the race of the regatta at the Olympics. Twigg made her senior debut in 2006 as part of the New Zealand W8 that finished 7th at the Eton Dorney World Championships. She moved to the single in 2007, winning the U23 World Championships and making the A-Final at the senior World Championships. She competed at her first Olympics in Beijing coming 9th overall. Moving into the London Olympiad she won her first senior World Championship medal when taking the bronze at her home championships in Karapiro in 2010. She repeated this feat in 2011 with another bronze and just missed out on a medal at the London Games. Moving onto the Rio Olympiad she stepped up a place on the podium with a silver at the Chungju World Championships. But it was in 2014 that he really stepped up. Everyone expected that Kim Brennan was going to dominate the season, but Twigg had other ideas, she produced a fantastic sprint to win the Sydney World Cup ahead of the Australian and continued in the same vein for the rest of the season going unbeaten and culminating in her first senior World title in Amsterdam. She then decided to study for a FIFA Masters degree resulting in the New Zealand coaches dropping her for the 2015 season. This meant that she had to go through the Final Olympic qualifying route. This she comfortably negotiated and then the race that everyone was looking forward to – her first meeting with Kim Brennan since the 2014 World Championships. In the end Brennan won comfortably but their next meeting in Rio has the makings of a true epic.

 

Paraguay

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Gabriela Mosqueria

Age: 26

Olympic record: 20th W1X London

World Championships: 6th BLW1X 2009, 10th BLW1X 2010, 7th BLW1X 2011

2016 record: 20th W1X Lucerne World Cup

 

Gabriela Mosqueria made her senior international debut at the age of 19 when she competed in the LW1X at the Banyoles World Cup finishing 11th out of 12. The same year, 2009, she made her debut at the U23’s finishing 6th in the LW1X. She competed at the U23 World Championships for the next three years, combining the U23’s in 2012 with an appearance at the London Olympics where she finished 20th.  In 2010 she won silver in the LW1X at the South American Games and the in 2011 she raced at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara. She raced at the Eton World Cup in 2013 finishing 8th and then in 2015 she competed at her 2nd Pan-Ams finishing 7th in the LW1X. She qualified for her 2nd Olympic Games via the Americas Qualifying Regatta when she finished 8th (and then benefitted from a couple of nations ahead of her not taking up their spots).

 

Peru

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Camila Valle Granados

Age: 21

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 16th JW1X 2013

2016 record: 17th LW1X Lucerne World Cup, 18th LW1X Poznan World Cup. 9th Americas Olympic Qualifying Regatta.

 

By finishing 9th at the Americas Valle Granados (and the benefitting from others ahead of her dropping out) Camila Valle Granados became the first Peruvian woman rower ever to qualify for the Olympic Games. At the age of 18 she competed in the W2X at the 2013 Bolivarian Games taking the silver medal. She competed at the Junior World Championships in the same year. She made her senior World debut in 2016 when she raced at both the 2nd and 3rd World Cups finishing in the C-Final at both regattas. As with the other South American representatives, Valle Granados will be wanting to be the leading competitor for her continent.

 

Singapore

rafa'ee

Saiyidah Mohamed Rafa’ee

Age: 27

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: Repecharge W1X 2010, 13th LW1X 2013

2016 record: 7th Asia & Oceania Olympic Qualifying Regatta

In 2013 Saiyidah Mohamed Rafa’ee won Singapore’s first gold medal at the South East Asia Games for 16 years. In the same year she raced at the World Championships and won the C-Final taking 13th overall. A former National age group Netball player before switching to rowing. The gap between the established and developing rowing nations are highlighted by the fact that the Singaporean athlete had to resort to a crowdfunding campaign to finance her bid to race at the Asia & Oceania Olympic Qualifying Regatta. Ultimately her bid was successful and her 7th place in Chungju secured her a place at Rio.

 

Switzerland

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Jeannine Gmelin

Age: 26

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championships record: 15th W1X 2014, 5th W1X 2015

2016 record: 4th W1X Varese World Cup, 7th W1X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd W1X Poznan World Cup

Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin made her senior international debut in 2014 with an 8th place finish at the 2014 European Championships. She ended the 2014 season finishing 15th at the World Championships. In 2015 she made a big step up in performance winning the Bled International regatta and taking silver at the European Championships. Suddenly the world sat up and took notice of this “new kid on the block”. At the end of the 2015 season she reached her first World Championship final finishing 5th and in doing so produced the best ever performance at a World Championships for a Swiss women’s single sculler. She continued the strong performances in 2016 taking 4th in Varese and then winning Switzerland’s first ever W1X medal at a World Cup when she picked up the bronze medal in Poznan. She’s established herself as a major contender for the A-Final and is possibly a wildcard for a medal.

 

Sweden

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Anna Malvina Svennung

Age: 31

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 17th W1X 2014, 7th W1X 2015

2016 record: 11th W1X Varese World Cup, 8th W1X European Championships, 9th W1X Poznan World Cup

Sweden have a very strong tradition in this event, the great Maria Brandin raced at the Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney Olympics and her successor, Frida Svensson competed in Athens, Beijing and London. Now it’s Svennung’s turn. She started rowing in 2006 whilst a student at Brenau University in Georgia in the USA. She made her international debut 6 years later in the W4X at the 2012 European Championships. In 2014 she switched focus to the single scull and took 17th at the World Championships. Her best performance to date, and the one that secured Sweden’s place at the Olympics was at the 2015 World Championships where she won the B-Final to finish 7th overall. In 2016 she continued to improve with an 8th place at the Europeans and 9th in Poznan. A top 12 finish in Rio should be her target.

 

Thailand

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Phuttharaksa Neegree

Age: 42

Olympic record: semi-final W1X Sydney, 22nd W1X Athens, 17th W1X London

World Championship record: 15th LW1X 1999, 21st LW2X 2003, 13th LW2X 2005, 10th LW1X 2006, semi LW1X 2007, 15th LW1X 2011, 15th LW2X 2013, 25th LW2X 2015

2016 record: 19th W1X Lucerne World Cup, 21st W1X Poznan World Cup, 8th Asia & Oceania Qualifying Regatta

The 2nd oldest competitor in the field, and also the 2nd most experienced. Neegree is heading for her 4th Olympic Games and has been competing on the senior international stage for the last 17 years. Her best performance to date was a 13th place in 2005. She raced at the 2015 South Asia Games and won silver in the LW1X and in 2014 she and partner, Roijana Raklao won bronze in the LW2X at the Asian Games.

 

Togo

Athlete to be confirmed

 

Chinese Taipei

taipei

Huang Yi-Ting

Age: 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: None

2016 record: 3rd Asia & Oceania Qualifying Regatta

Yi-Ting hasn’t raced at any of the FISA World Cups or World championships, but she has competed at the Asian Games and in 2015 she finished 4th in the LW1X. She has shown good form by taking 3rd at the Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta

 

Trinidad & Tobago

chow

Felice Chow

Age: 39

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: none

2016 record: 5th Americas Qualifying Regatta

Chow learnt to row whilst at college in the USA and made history in 2016 by becoming the first ever woman rower to qualify for the Olympics from Trinidad & Tobago.

 

USA

Stone.jpg

Genevra (Gevvie) Stone

Age: 31

Olympic record: 7th W1X London

World Championship record: 11th W1X 2011, 9th W1X 2014, 4th W1X 2015

2016 record: 2nd W1X Lucerne World Cup

Dr Gevvie Stone is a double under 23 World Champion in the W8 and W4x but the single scull is where her heart is. She switched to the small boat in 2011 and has been making steady progress up the world rankings. She represented the USA in London winning the B-Final, she returned to international competition in 2014 but had a somewhat disappointing season “only” managing 9th place in Amsterdam. But, in 2015 she really stepped on winning her first senior medal at the Varese World Cup and following that up with her 2nd at the Lucerne World Cup. She just missed out on a medal at the World Championships but had well and truly announced her arrival as one of the top medal contenders in the event. She’s started 2016 in the same vein winning silver in Lucerne and goes into Rio as possibly the only sculler that could disrupt the Brennan v Twigg head-to-head. The daughter of two former US national rowing team members she’s coached by her father Gregg she also holds the record for the most number of wins in the champ W1X at the Head of the Charles (6). A medal is a very, very strong possibility for the American

 

Zimbabwe

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Micheen Thornycroft

Age: 29

Olympic record: 14th W1X London

World Championship record: 10th W1X 2013, 20th W1X 2014, 12th W1X 2015

2016 record: 9th W1X Varese World Cup, 8th Lucerne World Cup, 1st African Qualifying Regatta

Thorneycroft is probably the no.1 woman single sculler in Africa at the moment. She’s already got one Olympics under her belt with a 14th place in London and secured her berth at Rio by dominating the African Qualifying regatta. Thornycroft began her career in 2006 racing at the U23 World Championships. She made her senior debut in 2012 and qualified for London via the African Qualifying regatta. At London she had a solid performance to finish 14th. During the Rio Olympiad she’s been making strong progress and has established herself as a good “mid-field” competitor. Winner of the 2013 African Championships she finished a slightly disappointing 20th in 2014 and 12th in 2015. But, in 2016 she’s made a big step up with a 9th in Varese and 8th in Lucerne – the best performance of her career to date. She currently trains with the South African High Performance Rowing team at the University of Pretoria. A B-final placing, and being the top of the “Developing” nations will be a good performance for Thornycroft and the best ever performance by a Zimbabwean women rower at the Olympics.

 

So that’s it for the women, I think this has the makings of one of the best races of the regatta with Kim Brennan and Emma Twigg going head-to-head and the likes of Gevvie Stone, Mirka Knapkova, Jeannine Gmelin and the great Ekaterina Karsten all more than capable of getting among the medals.

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