The Rio Olympics Men’s Double Sculls preview

 

Time for the third of my Olympic event previews, the Men’s Double Scull

 

Australia

christopher_morgan

Chris Morgan 33

David_Watts.jpg

David Watts 24

Olympic record: Morgan – 4th M4X Beijing, bronze M4X London

Watts – 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record:

Morgan – 11th M4X 2005, 15th M2X 2006, 10th M4X 2007, 1st M2+ 2010, 1st M4X 2011, 15th M4X 2014

Watts – 2nd M4X 2014

206 record: 11th M2X Lucerne World Cup, 8th M2X Poznan World Cup

Australia have a great record in this event, Olympic gold medallists in 1992 and 2008 (the only nation to win two Olympic titles since the Soviet Union won in 1968 and 1972). The crew for Rio is Chris Morgan and David Watts. Morgan is an experienced Olympian having raced at both Beijing and London in the M4X. His partner, David Watts, is an Olympic debutant and nine years Morgan’s junior. While Morgan was racing to a bronze medal at the London Olympics, Watts was racing to his own bronze medal as part of the Australian U23 Men’s 8. Watts and Morgan came together as a Double for 2016 and have raced at both the Lucerne and Poznan World Cups finishing in the midst of the B-Final on both occasions. An A-final placing in Rio will be a great achievement.

 

Azerbaijan

aleksandrov_yotov_300815_189

Aleksander Aleksandrov 26 &Boris Yotov 20

Olympic record: Aleksandrov – 5th M1X London

Yotov – 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record:

Aleksandrov – 9th M1X 2011, 1st BM1X 2012, 7th M1X 2013, 6th M1X 2014, 7th M2X 2015

Yotov – 7th M2X 2015

2016 record: 11th M2X European championships, 10th M2X Lucerne World Cup

Aleksandrov was one of the most outstanding juniors of the noughties, junior M1X world champion in 2007 and 2008 he is one of a rare breed of male scullers to race at a junior and senior world championships in the same year. He also took a bronze medal at the European Championship in 2007 as well….quite a year for a 17 year old. He won the U23 M1X gold in 2012 and qualified for the London Olympics finishing in 5th. Since London he’s switched between the single and the double but hasn’t quite delivered on the promise he showed as an U23 World Champion. His partner, Boris Yotov, is another outstanding young sculler. He made his senior debut in the M1X at the Belgrade World Cup in 2012 at just 16 years of age. The same year he and Aleksandrov just missed out on qualifying the M2x for London finishing 3rd at the FOQR. In 2014 their double won silver at the European Championships and the Aiguebelette World Cup. At this point it looked like they were creating a partnership that could challenge the best in the world. But 2015 was a disappointing year for them, 13th at the Varese World Cup and 7th at the World Championships didn’t really build on the momentum they developed in 2014. So far in 2016 their results have been heading in the wrong direction, 11th at the Europeans and 10th in Lucerne. But they are a very exciting prospect and although they may not get a medal in Rio they could be real contenders in 2020.

 

Bulgaria

BUL M2x.jpg

Photo: Igor Meijer

Georgi Bozhilov 27 & Kristian Vasilev 24

Olympic record: Bozhilov – 2016 Olympic debut

Vasilev – 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record:

Bozhilov – 12th M1x 2011, 8th M1X 2013, 6th M2X 2014, 11th M2x 2015

Vasilev – 6th M2X 2014, 11th M2X 2015

2016 record: Bozhilov – none

Vasilev – 10th M1X European Championships, semi-final M1X FOQR

 

This duo came together in 2014 after Bozhilov had spent a number of years racing in the M1X. In 2012 he narrowly missed qualifying the boat for the London Olympics but showed good form in 2013 making the A-Final at all three World Cups and taking the gold in Sydney and bronze at Eton Dorney. Moving into the M2x for the Aiguebelette World Championships he and Vasilev made an encouraging start with an A-final finish. They started the 2015 season in similar vein with A-Final appearances at the 1st World Cup and the European Championships. However at the 2nd World Cup they had a very disappointing regatta ending up in the C-Final and at the World Championships they also missed the A-Final ending up 11th. Things clearly weren’t going to plan as a double and Vasilev made an unsuccessful bid to qualify the M1X at the FOQR.  We will have to wait and see what sort of form the Bulgarians have in Rio.

 

Croatia

Sinkovic

Martin Sinkovic 26 & Valent Sinkovic 27

Olympic record: Silver M4X London

World Championship record: 4th M4X 2009, 1st M4X 2010, 3rd M4X 2011, 1st M4X 2013, 1st M2X 2014, 1st M2X 2015

2016 record: 1st M2X European Championships, 1st M2X Lucerne

The Sinkovic brothers are, quite simply, the best M2X in the history of the sport. They have only ever lost one race as a double, and that was their very first, the M2X heat at the Aiguebelette World Cup in 2016 (they then went on to win the rep, semi and final and have remained unbeaten ever since). The defining moment of their career in the M2X to date was at the 2014 World Championships in Amsterdam when they broke the 6 minute barrier, the first time this had ever been achieved. They started their international careers as part of an outstanding quad with Damir Martin and David Nain winning two World Championships and an Olympic silver medal. But, however good the quad was it’s as a double that the Sinkovic’s have really excelled and dominated the event. But, 2016 has not been without its scares. Wins at the Europeans and Lucerne World Cup have been followed by a back injury to Valent meaning they missed racing at Poznan. They are now back to full health but this has, perhaps, opened the smallest chink of light to their opposition that perhaps they are vulnerable after all……but then again…..it’ll be an upset of seismic proportions if the Croatians do not win gold in Rio.

 

Cuba

Cuba M2X

Photo: World Rowing

Adrian Oquendo 26 & Eduardo Rubio Rodriguez 29

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record:

Oquendo: 12th M4X 2011, 11th M2X 2013, 9th M2X 2015

Rodriguez: 12th M4X, 9th M2X 2015

2016 record: 5th M2X Varese World Cup, 9th M2x Lucerne World Cup, 7th M2X Poznan World Cup

The Cuban double are the only crew in the whole field that have raced at all three World Cups this year with their best result being 5th in Varese. The pairing first raced together on the world stage as part of the Cuban M4X at the 2011 World Championships in Bled, finishing 11th. But it wasn’t until 2015 they came together as a double after taking a silver medal in the quad at the Toronto PAN AM’s. At the Aiguebelette World Championships they finished 9th securing the boat for the Rio Olympics. Their performances so far this season have been encouraging and have certainly shown they have the speed to up near the front end of the B-Final.

 

France

Androdias.jpg

 

Matthieu Androdias 26

Boucheron.jpg

Hugo Boucheron 23

Olympic record:

Androdias: 10th M4X London

Boucheron: 2016 Olympic debut

World championship record:

Androdias: 13th M4X 2011, 6th M8 2013, 5th M8 2014, 6th M2X 2015

Boucheron: 9th M4X 2014, 6th M2X 2015

2016 record: 7th M2X European Championships, 7th M2X Lucerne World Cup, 3rd M2X Poznan World Cup

The French are another nation with a strong history in this event, champions in 2004 with Sebastien Vielledent and Adrian Hardy and bronze medallists in 1996 with Samuel Barathay and Frederic Kowal. The latest iteration of the French M2X came together in 2015, winning their first international regatta together at the Bled International and following that up with bronze at the Bled World Cup. They then won silver at the European Championships and made the A-Final at the World Championships, ensuring they qualified the boat for Rio. 2016 has shown some mixed results, 7th in Lucerne they followed it up with a bronze medal in Poznan. Matthieu Androdias seems far happier in a sculling boat than he did as part of the “all-star” Men’s 8 that the French tried in 2013 and 2014. This duo are strong contenders for an A-final placing and an outside bet for a medal.

 

Germany

Hacker Krueger

Photo: Igor Meijer

Marcel Hacker 39 & Stephan Krueger 27

Olympic record:

Hacker: bronze M1X Sydney, 7th M1X Athens, 7th M1X Beijing, 6th M1X London

Krueger: 6th M4x Beijing, 9th M2X London

World Championship record:

Hacker: Gold M1X 2002, Silver M4X 1997, 1998, bronze M1X 2003, M1X 2006, M4X 2009, M1X 2013, 10th M1X 1999, 12th M1X 2001, 5th M1X 2007, 4th M1X 2011, 5th M1X 2014, 4th M2X 2015

Krueger: Gold M2X 2009, Silver M2X 2011, 6th M2X 2010, 4th M2X 2013, 5th M2X 2014, 4th M2X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M2X European Championships, 4th M2X Lucerne World Cup, DNS M2X Poznan World Cup

One of the most experienced duo’s in the event, with six Olympic appearances between them. Marcel Hacker is one of the outstanding scullers in the world for nearly 20 years. Starting as a junior in 1994 he won a medal at every FISA event he competed in for the next 5 years (2 Junior world golds, an U23 silver, 2 World Championship silvers and 3 World Cup medals). Rio marks the end of his competitive career but he has already said he’s keen to move into coaching and has been working towards his National Coaching Certification. Krueger is a mere youngster in comparison but had an equally as impressive start to his international career winning Junior medals in 2005 and 2006, becoming U23 World Champion in 2007 and winning medals at his first two senior World Cup appearances in 2008. After finishing 6th in the quad in Beijing he formed a superb M2x with Eric Knittel and remained unbeaten for the 2009 season. A second World Championship medal followed in 2011 and they went into the London Olympics as one of the favourites for gold. Unfortunately the London Games were not a success for the duo and they ended up 9th of the 13 boats. When Knittel retired in 2013 Krueger formed a new double with Hans Gruhne taking 5th in 2014. In 2015 the partnership with Hacker was formed and whilst they’ve had some injury worries they’ve also shown some outstanding speed, winners of the European Championships in 2015 and just missing the medals at the 2015 World Championships. In 2016 they’ve got another European Championship medal and will definitely be among the contenders for a medal in Rio.

 

Great Britain

Collins & Walton HRR

John Collins 27 & Jonno Walton 25

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record: 7th M2X 2014, 8th M2X 2015

2016 record: 6th M2X European Championships, 5th M2X Lucerne World Cup, 2nd M2X Poznan World Cup

I don’t think Collins or Walton would object too strongly to me describing their partnership as serial under-achievers. They are an outstandingly talented duo who have, in training, been producing performances to match the very best in the GB team (which, by implication means they can match the best in the world), but for some reason these performances have rarely been transferred to the racing environment. Throughout their time together as a double they’ve always been either at the front of the B-final or back of the A-final, always “nearly there”. But, this hoodoo was finally broken in Poznan where they produced the best performance of their careers to take silver behind the New Zealanders. This was their first senior medal as a double, and the first M2X medal for GB since Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas won bronze at the Eton World Cup in 2013. So, the question is, having won that 1st medal, can they follow it up in Rio? Can they fulfil the promise they’ve been showing in training? It’s going to be tough, but if there’s a time to put it all together then it’s at the Olympics.

 

Italy

Italy's men's double sculls

Italy’s Francesco Fossi (b) and Romano Battisti (s) race in the men’s double sculls heat at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, South Korea.

Romano Battisti 29 & Francesco Fossi 28

Olympic record:

Battisti: silver M2X London

Fossi: 11th M4X London

World Championship record:

Battisti: 6th M8 2009, 3rd M2X 2013, 2nd M2X 2014, 10th M2X 2015

Fossi: 6th M4+ 2007, 6th M8 2009, 6th M4- 2010, 10th M4- 2011, 3rd M2X 2013, 2nd M2X 2014, 10th M2X 2015

2016 record: 11th M2X Varese World Cup (DNS the B Final), 5th M2X Poznan World Cup

Italy has a great tradition in this event and have won medals at four of the last five Olympics (including gold for Davide Tizzano and Agostini Abbagnale in Atlanta). For Rio there are two of Italy’s most experienced oarsmen and, on their day, capable of getting among the medals. Fossi made his senior debut back in 2007 and was part of the Italian sweep team until 2012 when he swapped to sculling. As part of the sweep squad he won the U23 M4+ title in 2008 and won his first senior medal as part of the Men’s 8 which won the Banyoles World Cup in 2009. A second U23 World title followed in 2010 and he also finished in the A-Final in the M4- at the Senior World Championships in Karapiro. In 2012 he switched to the sculling team and raced at the London Olympics in the M4X. Post-London he formed a doubles partnership with Battisti winning the European Championships in 2013 and ending the season as world bronze medallists. Romano Battisti also raced in both the sweep and sculling squads, winning the U23 M4+ in 2008 and then raced in the senior Italian M8 that year. In 2012 he raced in the M2x with his hero, Alessio Satori and won a superb silver medal (writing a book about their experiences called “Doppio Giallo”). Battisti and Fossi continued their strong performances during the 2014 season finishing 2nd in Amsterdam. However, 2015 was a less successful year for them as they ended up a disappointing 11th. In 2016 they withdrew from Varese after missing the A-Final and in Poznan they were 5th. As mentioned above, on their day they are more than capable of taking a medal, but their form so far this season suggests they may miss out.

 

Lithuania

Lithuania's men's double sculls Final A

photo: World Rowing

Rolandas Mascinskas 23 & Saulius Ritter 27

Olympic record: 6th M2X London

World Championship record: 10th M2X 2011, 2nd M2X 2013, 4th M2X 2014, 2nd M2X 2015

2016 record: 3rd M2X European Championships, 3rd M2X Lucerne World Cup.

The Lithuanians are an outstanding young partnership. They’ve been together since 2009 when they actually raced as a M2- at the European Championships when Mascinskas had only just turned 17! They switched to the Double in 2010 winning silver at the U23’s and gold at the 2011 European Championships. In 2012 they raced at the London Olympics, making the A-Final four days before Mascinskas’s 20th birthday! So far in the Rio Olympiad they’ve been establishing themselves as serious contenders for the medals, silver at the 2013 Europeans was followed by silver at the World Championships. In 2014 they took their 2nd European title. They secured their Rio place with an outstanding silver medal behind the Croatians at the World Championships and also won gold at the Gwangju Universiade. Despite being two of the youngest competitors in the field they’ve actually been racing together as a crew for the longest. My pick for a bronze medal.

Edit: Have heard news that Rolandas Mascinskas is injured and is out of the boat for Rio. He’s been replaced by Mindaugus Griskonis who was due to race the M1X. Armandas Kelmelis will now represent Lithuania in the M1X. This possibly will drop Lithuania out of the medals in the M2X

 

New Zealand

manson-rowing

Chris Harris 30 & Robbie Manson 26

Olympic record:

Harris: 11th M4- London

Manson: 7th M4X London

World Championship record:

Harris: 5th M8 2010, 8th M4- 2011, 12th M4X 2014, 3rd M2x 2015

Manson: 7th M4X 2010, 10th M4X 2011, 6th M2X 2013, 8th M2X 2014, 3rd M2X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M2X Lucerne world Cup, 1st M2X Poznan World Cup

New Zealand are the defending Olympic champions and with their crew of Nathan Cohen and Joe Sullivan they dominated the London Olympiad winning World gold in 2010 and 2011. Taking on the challenge of defending the challenge to try and retain the Olympic title are Chris Harris and Robbie Manson. Harris was born in South Africa but moved to New Zealand as a child, a member of Wanganui Rowing Club he made his senior international debut in 2010 as part of the M4- and raced in that boat class at the London Olympics. He then switched to the sculling squad and raced in the quad in 2014 before forming a new double partnership with Manson in 2015 taking the bronze medal in Aiguebelette. Manson has been a part of the Kiwi sculling squad since his debut in 2009 when he partnered Joe Sullivan to the U23 M2X World title. He raced in the M4X at the London Olympics. After the Olympics he formed a partnership with Michael Arms and they dominated the 2013 World Cup season winning gold at all three events plus winning the Double Sculls at Henley. Their successful run came to an end at the World Championships however when they finished a somewhat surprising 6th. 2014 saw Robbie Manson in yet another new partnership, this time with his brother Karl ending up 8th in Amsterdam. In 2015 Robbie Manson formed yet another doubles partnership, this time with Harris and so far they have shown they have the speed to medal, taking bronze in Aiguebelette and winning the Poznan World Cup in 2016. They are my picks to win silver behind the Croatians.

 

Norway

Nor M2X Tufte

Photo: Igor Meijer

Olaf Tufte (40) & Kjetil Borch (26)

Olympic record:

Tufte: 8th M4- Atlanta, 2nd M2X Sydney, 1st M1X Athens, 1st M1X Beijing, 9th M1X London.

Borch: 7th M2X London

World Championship record:

Tufte: Gold M1X 2001, 2003, Silver M1X 2005, Bronze M2X 1999, M1X 2002, 2007, 13th M4X 1997, 6th M4- 1998, 4th M1X 2006, 6th M1X 2009, 4th M1X 2010, 6th M1X 2011, 14th M1X 2014, 4th M1X 2015

Borch: 4th M2X 2010, 8th M2X 2011, 1st M2X 2013, 10th M2X 2014, 12th M2X 2015

2016 record: 4th M2X Varese World Cup, 5th M2X European Championships, 1st M2X Final Qualifying Regatta, 4th M2X Poznan World Cup

Olaf Tufte is a true legend of the sport. Rio will be his 6th Olympic Games and he is a member of a very exclusive club, he and only four other men have successfully defended their Olympic M1X titles 1964 & Bobby Pierce 1928 & 1932). Tufte has been competing on the world stage for the last 20 years, he made his senior international debut at the Atlanta Olympics and has raced every year since with the exception of 2013. As well as being the only man racing in Rio with three Olympic medals, Tufte is also one of the sports biggest characters, a farmer by profession he also runs his own underwear and coffee business. He also regularly competes in Timber Sports contest (basically chopping the sh*t out of blocks of wood with big axes! You don’t want to mess with Olaf!! Borch, by comparison, is a relative novice! Only one Olympics to his name and only one world championship gold! He formed a very effective double with Nils Jakob Hoff in 2010 taking 4th at the World Championships and 7th at the London Olympics. The highlight of this partnership was winning the World title in 2013. Since that highpoint either the rest of the world caught up with the Norwegians or their speed dropped off as they struggled to recapture that sort of world-beating speed. In 2016 the Norwegian coaches took the bold decision to create a new double with Tufte swapping places with Hoff. This meant they had to go through the trials of the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta. But, with that successfully negotiated they could focus on Rio. So far they’ve had some strong results making the A-Final at each regatta they’ve raced. They will be one of the main contenders for the minor medals.

 

Serbia

SRB M2X

Photo: Serbian Rowing Federation

Marko Marjanovic 30 & Andrija Sljukic 20

Olympic record: 2016 Olympic debut

World Championship record:

Marjanovic 4th M2+ 2006, 2nd M4+ 2007, 24th M4- 2007, 8th M2+ 2008, 6th M2X 2009, 10th M2- 2010, 13th M2X 2011, 7th M2X 2013, 9th M2X 2014, 13th M2X 2015

Sljukic 13th M2X 2015

2016 record: 2nd M2X Final Olympic Qualifying regatta, 6th M2X Poznan World Cup.

Marjanovic and Sljukic have already secured their place in the record books by becoming the first Serbian M2X to qualify for the Olympic Games. They did so by grabbing the final qualifying spot at the Final Qualifying Regatta in Lucerne. Marjanovic studied at the University of California, Berkeley and rowed in the highly successful Cal Bears Varsity that won the PAC-10 and IRA Championships in 2006. Rio will be his first Olympics at the 3rd time of asking, having missed qualification for Beijing in the M4- and London in the M1X. Marjanovic’s partner, Andrija Sljukic is an exciting young sculler, an U23 silver medallist in 2015, he made his senior debut the same year at the European Championships, finishing 8th in the M1X. He then moved into the double with Marjanovic finishing 13th at the Aiguebelette World Championships. 2016 saw a significant improvement in their speed and took them to qualification behind the Norwegians. They also raced at the Poznan World Cup taking 6th place, beating both the Australian and Cuban Olympic crews. An A-final finish in Rio would be a major achievement for this new duo.

 

This event is dominated by the Croatians and anything other than gold for the Sinkovic brothers would be a major, major upset. But, behind the Croats it’s going to be a titanic battle for the silver and bronze with the any of 4 or 5 crews capable of taking a medal, but I’m plumping for the Kiwis to take the silver ahead of the Norwegians.

Advertisements

One thought on “The Rio Olympics Men’s Double Sculls preview

  1. Pingback: Olympic rowing Regatta runners and riders preview • Rowperfect UK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s