In part three it’s time for the men’s and women’s double sculls.
Olympic qualifying places: 11
2018 Champions: Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias (France)
The 2018 champions from France, Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias, are back to defend their title. They have been racing together as a double since 2015, they made the A-Final at the Rio Olympics and again at the 2017 World Championships. 2018 was their annus mirabilis winning gold at both the European and World Championships. But, 2019 has, so far, been something of an annus horribilis. They just made the A-Final at the European Championships, but then could only manage 8that the Poznan World Cup and 11thin Rotterdam. They will be desperate to recover their 2018 speed, otherwise they stand a real risk of not qualifying direct for Tokyo.
If the French have been struggling this season, the same can’t be said for their neighbours from Switzerland. Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli have had an outstanding year so far. The 2018 silver medallists have stepped-up this season, winning silver at the European Championships and then gold at both the Poznan and Rotterdam World Cups. They’ve been racing together since the U23’s and were members of the M4X that won gold at U23 level back in 2014 and then went on to finish 7that the Rio Olympics. Switzerland have never won a M2X World title (their silver last year was the first World Championship M2X medal since 1985), but these two have a real chance of achieving that.
Another country in a rich vein of form this season are the British, John Collins and Graeme Thomas. They were both members of the M4x that finished a disappointing 7thin the world last season. But, since chief coach Jurgen Grobler put them together in the double, and under crew coach Dan Moore, they have “clicked” and produced some excellent results. 4that the European Championships they took silver at the Poznan World Cup and then bronze in Rotterdam. They have a real chance of delivering Britain’s first World Championship medal in this boat class since 2010.
Ireland’s M2X of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne have certainly made a big impression this season. Doyle, a doctor at Belfast City Hospital, and partner Byrne from Cork, finished 9that the World Championships last season. 10that the 2019 Europeans was followed by a remarkable performance at the Rotterdam World Cup where they missed out on the gold by just 7/10thof a second. This was Ireland’s first heavyweight men’s medal since 2005. It remains to be seen if the Irish can back up this performance with a strong result in Linz, but they’ve certainly made the rest of the world sit up and take notice (including, I suspect, the British coaches…Doyle is from Northern Ireland so would be eligible to row for Great Britain!)
One of the most experienced crews in the event are Belarus. Stainslau Shcharbachenia and Dzianis Mihal have 7 Olympic appearances between them. Shcharbachenia made his senior debut back in 2002 at the age of 17 and raced in the M4X at the Athens Olympics. He and Dzianis represented Belarus at the Beijing Olympics in the M2X where they finished 7th, and then as part of the M4- at the London Olympics. They were split up in rio, with Shcharbachenia racing to a 5thplace in the M1X and Dzianis taking 9thin the M4-. They were reunited in the M2X this season and made a positive start in Plovdiv, winning the bronze medal (the first M2X World Cup medal for Belarus). But, so far that’s as good as it’s got. 11that the Europeans was followed by a very disappointing 20thin Rotterdam. They will need to turn around their form fairly quickly or will struggle to make the qualifying standard for Tokyo.
Another crew have struggled a bit this season are John Storey and Chris Harris from New Zealand. The 2017 World Champions came into the 2019 season on the back of a World Championship bronze medal from 2018. Their opening salvo at the Poznan World Cup was a poor 13th, their worst performance as a crew. That was followed in Rotterdam by a slightly better 9thplace. But, unless they can find their 2017 or 2018 form they will find themselves in the desperate battle for the final qualifying places.
Winners of the first World Cup this season were the Chinese, Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang. This was a big improvement for them having last raced in the M4X that finished 13thin 2017. At the 2ndWorld Cup they couldn’t quite replicate this form, ending up 7th. Rotterdam was looking promising until Zhang had to withdraw after the semi-final due to illness. A medal in Linz is probably out of their reach, but an Olympic qualifying place shouldn’t be.
Canada have a new crew for the 2019 season, a mix of youth and experience. The youth is in the form of two-time U23 BM1X World Champion, Trevor Jones. He’s one of the most exciting young scullers in the world, and Linz sees him make his senior international debut. The experienced member of the crew is Matt Buie, he sculled in the M4X from 2013-15 and then partnered Conlin McCabe in the double in 2017. He raced in the Canadian M8 at the start of the 2019 campaign and then the double with Aaron Lattimer in Poznan. It remains to be seen what sort of speed this new combination has, but it’s an exciting prospect.
Another crew that combines youth and experience are the Germans, Tim Ole Naske and Stephan Krueger. Naske was U23 World champion in the BM1X in 2016 and then reached the A-final in the M1X at the senior World Championships in 2017. He lost out on selection for the M1X to Ollie Zeidler but for 2019 he’s formed a partnership with the highly experienced Stephan Krueger. Krueger is a triple-time Olympian racing in the M4X in Beijing and then partnering Marcel Hacker at the London Olympics before moving back to the M4X for Rio. So far in 2019 this double have raced at the European championships (finishing 7th) and then won bronze in Poznan and then 5thin Rotterdam. They may not get amongst the medals in Linz but they should comfortably qualify for Tokyo.
Another crew who should finishing comfortably in the top 11 are Poland. Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biksup raced together in the M4X that finished 4that the Rio Olympics. They moved in the double in 2017 winning silver at the World Championships (the first M2X medal for Poland at a World Championships since 1998). They followed this up with 8thlast season. They are one of the few athletes who have raced at all three World Cups and the European Championships. They won gold as part of the M4X in Poznan. Zietarski won gold at the Europeans partnered by Fabian Baranski, with Biksup finishing 7thin the quad. They reformed as a double for the 2ndWorld Cup, finishing 4thand then finished 8thin Rotterdam.
Winners of the B-Final at the 2018 World Championships were the young Dutch duo of Amos Keijser and Nikki Van Sprang. Van Sprang also raced in this boat class at the 2017 World Championships, partnered by Bram Schwarz, finishing 12th. Keijser was a member of the M4X that just missed a medal in 2017. So far this season they’ve a 5thplace at the Europeans and 7thin Rotterdam. A top 11 placing should be within their reach.
The final two crews to mention are the Romanians and Lithuanians. Romania have Ioan Prundeanu and Marian-Florian Enache. They’ve been racing together as a double since 2017 when they finished 10that the World Championships. 2018 saw them win silver at the European Championships and make the A-Final at Worlds. So far in 2019 they’ve another European championships medal (bronze) but struggled with the conditions in Rotterdam, slipping to 10th.
Lithuania have two Rio Olympians, Saulius Ritter won silver (partnering Mindaugus Griskonis) in the M2X and Dovydas Nemeravicius finished 9thin the M4X. Nemeravicius stayed in the quad for 2017, winning the world championships. He was joined in the quad by Ritter in 2018, taking silver at the Europeans. They ended the 2018 season with a disappointing 12that the World Championships. Since moving to the double for 2019 they’ve had mixed results, 8that the Europeans was followed by 6thin Poznan. Both Romania and Lithuania need to be on their best form to secure Olympic qualification.
My picks….Switzerland in gold with Great Britain in silver and Germany in bronze.
Predicted Olympic qualifiers: SUI, GBR, GER, NZL, IRL, POL, FRA, NED, LTU, ROU, CHN
Olympic qualifying places: 11
2018 Champions: Milda Valciukaite and Ieva Adomaviciute (Lithuania)
It’s easy to forget that Milda Valciukaite is still only 25, she’s been a feature of the W2X circuit since she was a teenager, winning her first world title at the age of 19, and her first Olympic medal at 22. She’s joined by Ieva Adomaviciute, a two-time U23 World champion in the BW1X. They came together in the double in 2017 finishing just outside of the medals. 2018 saw them win bronze at the Europeans and then took the World title in Plovdiv. 2019 hasn’t gone according to plan so far, 5that the European Championships was followed by a very disappointing 14that the Poznan World Cup, the first time in their senior international careers that they’ve not made the A-Final. Clearly something went very wrong in Poznan. Assuming that performance was a blip, I would expect them to be back at the sharp end of the A-Fina in Linz.
Any discussion about top crews in small boats will always include a New Zealand crew, and the W2X is no exception. Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe formed their partnership in 2017 and went unbeaten throughout 2017 culminating in a gold medal at the World Championships in Florida. They started 2018 in the same manner, winning the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups before slipping to silver behind the Lithuanians at the World Championships. So far in 2019 they have wins at Henley and also at the 2ndWorld Cup in Poznan, they will be coming into Linz as the overwhelming favourites.
Australia have a new combination this season, with Amanda Bateman and Genevieve Horton. Horton raced in the double at the Rio Olympics finishing 9thand she followed that up with an U23 silver medal in 2017 and a 7thplace in the W4X at the 2018 World Championships. Bateman made her senior international debut this season after a year on the U23 team. As a double they’ve made a strong start to the 2019 season winning medals at both the Poznan and Rotterdam World Cups.
Winners of the 1stWorld Cup were China, with a crew of Shiyu Lu and Yuwei Wang. 20-year-old Lu finished 10thin the BW1X at the 2018 U23 World Championships and makes her senior debut this year. Wang is far more experienced having raced in the W4X that finished 6thin Rio. Following their win in Plovdiv this year they went on to finish 5that the Poznan World Cup. They should be comfortable qualifiers for Tokyo but may not get among the medal in Linz.
One crew who have really stepped on in 2019 are Romania. Nicoleta-Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Geanina Radis formed their partnership this season after a disappointing 2018. Bodnar raced in the W2X with Larisa Elena Rosu finishing 18thand last at the World Championships. Radis was a member of the W4X that finished 10th. However, since coming together as a double this season, they have shown tremendous form. Silver at the European Championships was followed by gold at the Rotterdam World Cup. This duo are a very exciting prospect, and they are still both only 20-years-old.
The USA also have a new combination for 2019 and it’s one that combines youth and experience. The experience comes from Gevvie Stone, the Rio silver medallist had taken a step back from the sport after Rio to concentrate on her medical studies, but having qualified as a doctor she felt the pull of the river and returned to training. She’s joined in the double by Cicely Madden, a graduate of Brown University finished 4thin the BW2X at the 2017 U23 World Championships. 2019 sees her make her senior debut, and she and Stone have made an immediate impact, winning a silver medal at the Poznan World Cup. A medal is a distinct possibility for the Americans.
Canada haven’t won a medal at the World Championships in this event since 1994, but their crew for 2019; Gabrielle Smith and Andrea Proske have an outside chance of changing that. 6thin the world last year they started 2019 with a 9thplace at the 2ndWorld Cup, but then won bronze in Rotterdam. They will be in the mix for an Olympic qualification spot.
Greece have selected an exciting young crew, Dimitra-Sophia Tsamopolou and Anneta Kyridou. Tsamopolou is still only 19 and Kyridou 20. They are part of an outstanding young Greek U23 squad and won gold in the BW2X at the World Championships this year and could well become the stars of the Paris Olympiad. An A-Final placing in Linz would be a great achievement in their first year on the senior circuit.
Another young crew looking to impress are Belarus. Tatsiana Klimovich and Krystsina Staraselets were U23 World Champions in this boat class in 2017. They raced as part of the W4X in 2018 finishing 8th, before moving back to the double for 2019. Their campaign got off to a great start with a silver medal at the 1stWorld Cup in Plovdiv and they followed that with a 4thplace at the Europeans. They are another crew for whom an A-Final finish will be a great achievement.
France have had a mixed season so far. Their pairing of Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino have been racing together for a number of years and finished 5that the Rio Olympics. They just missed the A-Final at the Worlds in 2017. 2018 started well with gold at the European Championships, but this was followed by disappointment at the World Championships where they ended up at the back of the B-Final. 2019 saw them unable to defend their European title, finishing 8th. The French coaches tried them both in different combinations at the 2ndWorld Cup but neither reached the A-Final. Back together for the World Championships, they will be hoping to recapture the sort of speed they had in 2016 and 2017, otherwise qualification for Tokyo will be a real challenge.
Another crew with Olympic experience are the Czech Republic, Lenka Antosova and Krystina Fleissnerova. They finished 10that the Olympics and then followed that up with good performances throughout 2017, winning the European Championships and then placing 7that the Worlds. They repeated their 7thplace finish at the 2018 World Championships and so far this season have a mixed bag of results, a disappointing 13thin Poznan was followed by an excellent 4thin Rotterdam. They will be a number of crews vying for an A-Final finish.
Ukraine have selected two highly experienced athletes; Daryna Verkhogliad and Ievgeniia Dovhodko. They’ve been racing together internationally for a number of years, although have only raced together as a W2X on one occasion (finishing 21stat the 2015 World Championships). They have had much more success as part of the W4X, in which they have won medals at the European Championships in 2016, 2018 and 2019. They also have a 4thplace from the Rio Olympics. There is no W4X quad for Ukraine in Linz, so they are back in the double and are a bit of an unknown quantity. One thing’s for certain, they will be hoping for a much better performance than the last time they raced in this boat class.
Roos De Jong and Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands raced together in this boat last season winning silver at the European Championships and finishing 5that the World Championships. Linz will be the first time they have raced together in 2019. De Jong has been a part of the W4X that won medals at both the first World Cup and the European Championships and finished 5thin Rotterdam. Scheenaard has had a strong season in the W1X, winning the first World Cup and making the A-Final at the European Championships. She took her 2ndWorld Cup medal of the season with a bronze at the final race in Rotterdam. If they can show similar speed to the last time they raced as a W2X they could well be in the hunt for a medal.
Italy have two Stefania’s, Gobbi and Buttignon. Stefania Gobbi finished 9thin this boat class in 2017 and then raced in the quad for 2018. Stefania Buttignon makes her senior debut this season having won gold in the BLW2X at the 2018 U23 World Championships. This season they picked up their first medal together with a bronze at the European Championships, and then took 8thin Poznan. They may struggle to make the A-Final but should be expecting to get an Olympic qualification place.
Germany’s Leonie Menzel and Pia Greiten won silver at the U23 World Championships last season. They both made their senior debuts in 2019 but have yet to race together this year. Menzel spent most of the season in the double with Carlotta Nwadjie, winning the European Championships and then taking 7thand 5that the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. Greiten raced with Daniela Schultze at the 2ndWorld Cup finishing one place ahead of their team mates and then she raced in the W1X in Rotterdam taking 10thoverall. Back together for Linz they will be one of the crews battling for the final Olympic qualifying places.
Another young crew are the Hungarians, Vivien Preil and Zoltana Gadanyi. They finished 5that the Poznan World Cup and then took bronze at the U23 World Championships last month. Olympic qualification will be a great achievement for this young crew.
The final crew to mention are Great Britain; Kyra Edwards and Ruth Siddorn. They are another young duo having both been part of the GB U23 team in 2018, Siddorn finished 5thin the BW1X and Edwards won bronze in the BW4X. They made they debut as a crew at the Rotterdam World Cup placing 8thoverall. As a young and relatively new crew they will be getting better and better the more time they have together. An A-Final finish is probably beyond them at the moment, but they should be able to achieve a top 11 placing.
My picks….it’s going to be tight at the top but I think New Zealand will have the edge with the USA in silver and Romania in bronze.
Predicted Olympic qualifiers: NZL, USA, ROU, AUS, LTU, NED, GRE, CHN, BLR, CZE, GBR