Not Without Some Snags

The Sea Forest Waterway © Tokyo Metropolitan Government

7 May 2021

By Göran R Buckhorn

Göran R Buckhorn has read some World Rowing reports.

More than 400 rowers from 49 countries are going to Lucerne, Switzerland, for the World Rowing Final Olympic Qualification Regatta held on 15-17 May. The Olympic qualification spots will be contested in 14 Olympic boat classes. In each event, the first and second placed crews in the finals on 17 May will qualify for Tokyo. There is one exception, the three first crews in the women’s lightweight double sculls will get their tickets to Tokyo.

In an article on World Rowing’s website, it stated that ‘Many of the combinations are new and some have not raced internationally since 2019 leaving the door wide open to speculation on the top performers’.

China is entering in eight of the 14 boat classes, including men’s and women’s eights. The Chinese women will face Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Russia in the eights. At the 2021 European Championships earlier in April, Romania won the gold medal followed by the Dutch crew.

The largest field in the Lucerne regatta is the men’s single sculls with 26 scullers racing for the two qualification spots. One of the scullers is Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk, who finished third at the European Championships.

In the men’s quadruple sculls, nine countries are fighting for the two top spots. According to the World Rowing’s article, the Estonians are the front runners. Three of the crew members, including the now 41-year-old Tonu Endrekson, took the bronze medal in the boat class at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

In the women’s double sculls, Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele, three-time Olympic medallist, is racing with Leonie Menzel. The Germans will be trying to stay ahead of Holly Nixon and Saskia Budgett, of Great Britain, who took a bronze at the European Championships.

On Wednesday, which was the first day of racing at the Asia and Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta held at the Sea Forest Waterway, the Olympic rowing course in Tokyo, the races were cancelled due to strong winds. Is strong winds something that the rowers should be worried about come the Olympic rowing in July?

Also on Wednesday, a ‘support member’ of the Sri Lankan rowing team tested positive for COVID-19, following positive antigen and PCR tests. A total of 320 tests were performed on 4 and 5 May and all tests came back negative, except one.

In a statement, World Rowing Executive Committee wrote, ‘For the record, all participants at this event [the Asia and Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta] tested negative before flying to Japan on 29 or 30 April, tested negative upon arrival in Japan on 1 May, tested negative on 4 May and all except this one case tested negative on 5 May 2021.’

According to the event protocol, so-called team bubbles have been created for accommodation, dining and transport, so there has been no cross transmission to another team or local volunteers, World Rowing Executive Committee said.

It is reported that the event will continue as planned under the direction of the local authorities. Though this three-day regatta has now been cut down to two days.

Update: You will find some regatta results here.

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