13 August 2016
Göran R Buckhorn writes:
What amazing excitement the last day of racing on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio offered in the four A-finals: men’s single sculls; women’s singles sculls; women’s eights: and men’s eights.
The men’s single sculls was a nail biting thriller where Damir Martin, of Croatia, took an early lead with the gold medal favourite, Mahe Drysdale, of New Zealand, trailing in the middle of the field, at third position. Ondrej Synek, of the Czech Republic, was second. At the 1,000-metre mark, Martin was still in the lead looking strong, with Drysdale lurking as third. But then the New Zealander started to move. At the 1,500-metre mark, Drysdale had moved past the Czech and the Croatian, but the latter refused to give in, attacking Drysdale. With 100 metres to go, it was almost impossible (watching the race on TV) to see who was in the lead. Both scullers seemed to pass the finish line at the same time, both scullers given the time 6:41.340. However, a photo finish showed that Drysdale was half a bow ball ahead (how much is that in time?), defending his Olympic title in the boat class from London 2012. Synek came third. Hannes Obreno, of Belgium, who earlier this year beat Drysdale in the Diamonds at Henley, came fourth.
The women’s single sculls final was maybe not as breathtaking as the men’s final, as the favourite Kim Brennan, of Australia, took the lead at the first stroke and then just took off, leaving the rest of the field behind. For those who thought that the New Zealander Emma Twigg was going to give Brennan a run for her money, it was soon clear that it was not going to happen in this Olympic final, with Twigg lagging at the end of the field. Instead, it was the battle for the second position that got exciting, a fight between Genevra Stone, of USA, and Jingli Duan, of China. Brennan’s winning time was 7:21.540, Stone coming in second in 7:22.920, Duan third, in 7:24.130, and Twigg just missing the medal podium, in 7:24.480.
The U.S. women’s eight did not disappoint their fans among the spectators in Rio, their supporters in their home country or the rowing world. Despite that five of the crew members were Olympic novices, this did not slow them down. The Americans were third both at the 500-metre mark and the 1,000-metre mark where all the boats were well together, with Canada in the lead for half of the race, coxed by veteran Lesley Thompson-Willie, 57, just ahead of the 2012 Olympic silver medal country, the Netherlands. Then things started to happen. USA put in an extra gear and moved up to the front ahead of Canada and Great Britain. With 500 metres to go, USA was in a clear lead followed by Canada and then Britain. Suddenly, the Romanian eight started to move after having been in the rear up to the 1,500-metre mark. However, no boat could threaten the American women, who won in 6:01.490 – becoming Olympic champions for the third time in a row – what an achievement! Britain took silver, in 6:03.980, Romania bronze, in 6:04.100.
In the last race of the day at these Olympic Games, the all-time favourites, Great Britain was in the lead from the start in the men’s eights, winning – and making their country proud – in 5:29.630. Germany took the silver medal, in 5:30.960, while the bronze went to the Netherlands, in 5:31.590. Surprisingly, the American eight ended up outside the medal podium. This has not been such a great Olympic Games for the USA when it comes to rowing.
Full Medal Table, here.