Time for a whistle-stop look at the entries for the LM2X
Angola: Andre Matias & Jean-Luc Rasamoelina
32nd in the World last year and qualified for Rio by finishing 2nd at the African Olympic Qualifying Regatta. They raced in Varese finishing 15th and Lucerne where they finished 13th out of 13.
Austria: Bernhard Sieber & Paul Sieber
2012’s U23 LM2X World Champions the Sieber brothers have yet to transfer that promise into the seniors. They’ve reached the A-Final at a few World Cups and their best ever result was 4th at the 2012 Europeans, but typically they are a mid-B Final crew.
Brazil: Xavier Vela Maggi & Willian Giaretton
The home nation have only 2 crews entered and the LM2X won their spot by winning the Latin American Qualification Regatta. Vela Maggi is a highly experienced athlete having raced for Spain until 2013, including winning bronze in the LM2- in Lucerne that year. Now racing for Brazil he and Giaretton have shown good form this season finishing 10th in Lucerne and 9th in Poznan. A B final finish will be a good result.
Chile: Felipe Cardenas Morales & Bernardo Guerrero Diaz
Chile took the final qualifying spot for Rio at the Latin American Qualifying Regatta. They finished 17th in the world last year and in Lucerne this season they had a great battle with the Brazilians, finishing just 8/10th second behind them in 10th. The fight between the Chileans and Brazilians for the top South American finish will be a great little sub-plot to the racing.
China: Man Sun & Chunxin Wang
The Chinese has a young crew, with 20 year old Sun, who finished 5th in the U23 LM1X last year joined by 18 year old Wang. They qualified for Rio by winning the Asia & Oceania Qualifying Regatta. A real unknown quantity but I’d be surprised if they finish any higher than the C-Final
Denmark: Rasmus Quist & Mads Rasmussen
The defending Olympic champions, the Danes broke British hearts when they defeated Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter at Eton Dorney. The Danes took a break from rowing after London and a new combination was tried based around Henrik Stephansen. But in 2015 the Olympic Champions made a comeback on won selection. They had to secure qualification via the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta. On the water they were beaten by the Belgians, but because of the qualification rules only allowing 1 qualifier per gender via the FOQR Belgium were forced to choose between the LM2X and the M1X. They chose the latter and the Belgians miss out, but the defending champions get lucky. They raced at Varese and finished 6th. It will take something very, very special for the Danes to retain their title.
France: Jeremie Azou and Pierre Houin
The hot favourites for gold. France are the reigning World Champions and followed that up with wins in Varese and Lucerne. They changed this, with U23 LM1X World Champion and World LM4X Champion, Pierre Houin replacing Stany Delayre. It was a bold move from the French, to change a gold medal line-up, but so far it looks to have been the right one. My picks to take take their first ever gold medal in the LM2X
Germany: Moritz Moos & Jason Osborne
A very talented young crew, U23 world champions in 2013 and 2014, they also won senior silver in the LM4X in 2013. They’ve had a few little injury niggles which has perhaps meant they haven’t quite delivered on the world stage as their talent suggest. But they qualified well, finishing 6th in Aiguebelette last year. So far this season they already have a medal, a silver from the European championships followed by a 7th place in Poznan. They are outside bets for a medal, but, if they stay healthy could be a gold medal favourite in Tokyo. I reckon they’ll take 5th or 6th in Rio.
Great Britain: Will Fletcher & Richard Chambers
The 2015 World Silver medallists. Following on from Purchase & Hunter’s silver medal in London GB there is huge expectation on this partnership to deliver a medal for Team GB. Having struggled with injury earlier in the season their results in 2016 haven’t been particularly encouraging, 5th in both Lucerne and Poznan. But, fully fit they will be in the mix for the medals. I’m picking them for bronze.
Hong Kong: Chiu Mang Tang & Hin Chun Chiu
3rd at the Asia & Oceania Qualifying regatta ensured Hong Kong’s place in Rio. They’ve only raced once as a double on the World Cup circuit with a 10th place in Poznan. They will be wanting to best the likes of China and Japan in Rio.
Ireland: Paul O’Donovan & Gary O’Donovan
After an 11th place finish in 2015 the Irish have made a massive step up in 2016. They won their countries first ever gold medal in this event at Brandenburg in the European Championships. They then showed that this was no fluke with 2 4th places in Lucerne and Poznan. I really like this Irish crew and I love the way they scull. I think they are going to be one of the main contenders for a medal, they perhaps won’t be able to catch the French but a silver medal isn’t beyond them and they could be one of the surprises of the regatta
Italy: Micheletti Andrea & Marcello Miani
The Italians are a very experienced crew, Miani finished 4th in the LM2X Beijing and 12th in the LM4- in London. He spent 2015 in the LM1X finishing 12th. Andrea was in the LM2X last year with Pietro Ruta and secured qualification with a 5th place finish. Miani and Andrea raced together in Poznan taking the bronze. They will be a contender come the final, but ultimately I think they’ll just miss out.
Japan: Hideki Omoto & Hiroshi Nakano
2nd to the Chinese at the Asian Qualification regatta the Japanese finished 25th in the World last year. They raced in Lucerne finishing 12th of 12. Anything better than a C final will be a great result for the Japanese, and they’ll be looking to beat their fellow Asian crews.
Norway: Kristoffer Brun & Are Strandli
The 2013 World Champions, the Norwegians followed that victory with a bronze in 2014 and again in 2015. They will be one of the favourites to win Norway’s first ever Olympic LM2X medal. So far in 2016 they have a bronze from the Europeans and were runners-up to the French at both Lucerne and Poznan World Cups. I think they’ll just miss the medals, but it’s going to be very, very tight.
Poland: Artur Mikolajczewski & Milosz Jankowski
7th in the world last year the Poles are a quality crew. Their best ever result was gold at the Eton World Cup in 2013. In 2016 they finished 7th in Varese, had a great race in Brandenburg – taking 4th. In Poznan they raced in the heavyweight division but withdrew at the semi-final stage. They wll be there or thereabouts in Rio but a top 12 placing will be par.
South Africa: James Thompson & John Smith
The South Africans shocked the French favourites in 2014 when they pipped them to the world title. They were just out of the medals in 2015 but have started 2016 really well, gold medallists in Varese they then took bronze in Lucerne. They will be in the mix for the medals, along with the French, Irish, Brits and Norwegians.
Switzerland: Daniel Wiederkehr & Micahel Schmid
The Swiss finished 10th in the world last year and booked their spot for Rio. The Swiss have a fantastic lightweight squad, their LM4- are one of the favourites for gold. The LM2X aren’t quite at that level and will be looking for a strong B-Final placing. So far in 2016 Wiederkehr raced in the LM1X in Varese finishing just out of the medals. As a double they finished 8th at both Lucerne and Varese.
Turkey: Cem Yilaz & Huseyin Kandemir
Turkey qualified by taking the 2nd spot at the Final Qualifying Regatta. Turkey have a strong lightweight squad, the LM2X were disappointed not to qualify directly at the World Championships last year. They’ve changed their line-up for 2016 and had a good 10th place in Varese. A B final will be a strong result for the Turks.
The USA: Andrew Campbell Jr & Josh Konieczny
The USA finished 8th last year, a safe qualification for Rio but a bit of a disappointing result for the US. Andrew Campbell is one of the most exciting young lightweight scullers in the world U23 World Champion 2013 and 2014 and senior world bronze medallist in 2012. He just missed qualifying for the London Olympics. He formed a new duo with Konieczny last year. Their best result was 4th in Varese. In 2016 they raced at the Lucerne World Cup finishing 6th. There’s a lot of expectation on this crew, but I think they may miss out on an A-Final.
France are the standout crew in this event, but behind them it’s a real barnburner, with the Norwegians, British, South Africans and Irish all in with a shout of a medal. My picks are France in gold, Ireland in silver and GB bronze.