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

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