It’s the first day of finals and three sets of medals are up for grabs. First though is a full morning of racing which will get the crowds warmed up. All of today’s semifinal events have two races where three from each will qualify for their final.
After the minor semis and finals come the Men’s Quad semifinals. Russia, Croatia and Germany were winners in the heats but Great Britain, Poland and Australia are strong crews. Russia set the World Best Time in Lucerne this year. These races will be won and lost by very tight margins. As we saw in day 4, some crews will go out hard and fade while others sprint through from the rear of the pack. Getting it right at the finish line is crucial.
SF1: SUI AUS RUS CRO GBR UKR
SF2: FRA EST GER POL UKR ITA
The Men’s Pair follows the quad. The Kiwi pair are in the best form of their careers and set a World Best Time in the heats. They could win their semifinal by a few lengths of clear water. Canada, Italy and the Netherlands will fight it out for the remaining two qualifying slots with Germany and the USA, who came through the Repechage. The GB pair, who race in the second semifinal, have shown good speed which has surprised some. Australia finished quickly in the heats to move from fourth to second and qualify direct. Greece and France may start quickly and the lead could change a few times in this race.
SF1: GER ITA NZL CAN NED USA
SF2: SRB GRE AUS GBR FRA POL
The big scullers meet each other again in the Men’s Single semifinals. So many big names in these races and these scullers are finding peak form for the Olympics. It’s a long old event and different race strategies have been employes so far making it hard to determine true form. Synek, Drysdale and Campbell shouldn’t have too many problems earning a place in the final. Tufte almost got rowed down in the quarterfinals by Stephansen and may not be on his usual Olympic form.
SF1: NOR GER NZL SWE CUB LTU
SF2: CHN ARG CZE GBR BEL AZE
On to the finals. The Women’s Pair will be the first rowers to get their hands on the huge medals at these Olympics. Rowing history could be made for Great Britain who have never won an Olympic gold medal in a women’s rowing event. The pair of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover set a new Olympic Best Time in the heats. They are one of TeamGB’s best chances to claim gold, but none of the other crews will be settling for silver. The Australian pair of Sarah Tait and Kate Hornsey will be challenging them all the way. They can start fast but will try to settle to a fast pace and rattle the GB pair. Other big challengers are the New Zealand crew. They have beaten GB at the World Championships for the last two years. Crews in the outer lanes will be giving everything to get ahead and hold on until the finish.
Start List: ROU USA GBR AUS NZL GER
The Women’s Quad is the second A-Final of the day. The Ukraine have been dominant all season, winning World Cups by clear water. Germany went faster in the other heat, but heat times mean nothing in the final. Ukraine have huge leg power. They will start faster than any other crew and it will take a huge effort to catch them. Germany, Australia and the USA will be expected to be fighting for silver and bronze. Australia’s Dana Faletic, sculling at bow, is racing on her birthday. She will want to celebrate with a medal. The GB crew always have a slow start but proved in the repechage that they have great endurance and an enormous sprint when it’s all on the line. If they can stay with the pack over the first half they have a chance to surprise. Watch out for them charging through the noise of the home crowd in the last 500m.
Start List: GBR AUS UKR GER USA CHN
The big show, the Men’s Eight, is on the first day of finals in the new racing programme. There has been plenty of talk about this event. Germany are the favourites, but the Great Britain crew have been getting stronger throughout the season and finally have their full crew fit to race. Greg Searle of GB is trying to win gold 20 years after victory in the M2+ at the Barcelona games. In the lane draw, the USA separate these two crews. This may work against GB as the Germans try to sneak away. GB have been working on a faster start all season and covered the first 1000m of the repechage rapidly before cruising in. GB may be able to stay with the Germans at the start, but no one is sure how many more gears the German crew have. Germany have nothing to hide anymore and a big final 30 strokes from them could put GB’s dreams of gold to an end. Canada and the USA will not be spectators in this event. Eights are ‘the’ boat in these nations and they have both set quick times. The Canadians set a World Best Time this year in the heats in Lucerne. They can fly when they get it right! The Netherlands and Australia were in contention in the repechage. Racing will be fast and powerful. The crews will overlap all the way. The crowd reaching maximum volume as the crews charge to the finish. It’s hard to increase the speed of these boats coming into the line; they will go hard and go early.
Start List: NED GBR USA GER CAN AUS
It’s finals day. Bring your flags, face paint, patriotism and adrenaline… possibly some ear plugs too!