British Rowing at the Olympics

XXVIIth Olympics
September 2000
Rachel Quarrell commentating from the TV coverage daily.
Olympic Reports Reps ahoy, Tuesday September 19th

Live-written stroke-by-stroke coverage of the some of the men's single sculls and women's coxless pairs repechages

Men's single sculls, repechage 1 Conditions warm and calm this morning, good rowing weather. And so the Group A repechages begin today. Our first commentary report is three of the four men's single sculls reps, two from each race going to the A/B semi-finals and the rest to the lesser finals. This race featuring the British sculler Matthew Wells, an exciting young prospect in the British squad. He's up against Reinholds of LAT, a canny sculler, plus Fernandez of Argentina, KAZ and CHI. Off the start, it's Fernandez who moves into the lead, followed by Wells sculling strongly and looking impressive. Wells is pushing against Fernandez, and takes over the lead. Past the halfway marker, and Reinholds starts a strong move, throwing in a serious push which Wells can't counter with any force. The two scullers are out ahead, so the two qualifying places are not in doubt, but it's now a tactical race for the best spot, and to test themselves. Wells straining, but Reinholds has command of the race, and keeps the youngster firmly in place. Into the last couple of hundred metres, the Latvian remains in first, with GBR second, and ARG, CHI, KAZ bringing up the rear.

Men's single sculls, repechage 3 A fight for Righetti from Italy, against Czech Vaclav Chalupa, a very experienced international sculler, together with a streak of other singlers. A very fast start in this race, the scullers still in the mid-30's at 400 metres gone. Relatively new US sculler Don Smith dogs Chalupa off the start, Chalupa a nice length up on the pack with 750 metres gone, and able to watch everyone else's moves. Only position counts here, not time, in the race for the last semifinal places. CZE, USA, ITA at the mid-way mark, with Smith making an excellent fist of staying on Chalupa's heels. Righetti straining hard, but can't get close to these two, and although Chalupa still seems comfortable with 800 to go, it seems possible that Smith could overturn him in a final sprint. Sometimes the wash is (just) worth it, to stay close enough to pass with the last few strokes. Mind you, Chalupa will be very aware of the tactic, and ready to counter it. Last few hundred metres to go now, CZE and USA still in a commanding lead, with Righetti, Tolentino (PHI) and Akram (PAK) way back. 200 metres to go, Smith coming back to only half a length down, but Chalupa doesn't take the rate up, grimaces, and then drops the rate right down. Smith passes, Chalupa still safely into the other semifinal place, but in second position here, and looks pretty exhausted. There are two possibilities: either Chalupa blew in the final stretch, after holding off Smith for 1900 metres, or he was tactically trying to fix which semifinal to go for. Excellent racing from Smith, though, and an object lesson in why it can be well worth pushing it all the way.

Men's single sculls, repechage 4 Sweden's old name Jan Siska racing against Dutchman Egelmeers, and Nocetti from Brazil, with KOR and ALG making up the party. Egelmeers rushes out in front very fast, again a high-rating first 500 metres, Nocetti staying with him nicely. These two go out well to the mid-way mark, Nocetti snapping at Egelmeers, who sticks in a couple of nice lifts to keep things lively. Then Siska comes barging back, a phenomenal middle-section push, and this assault is matched by Egelmeers, the raised effort taking both him and Siska away from Nocetti, who can't keep up with the pace. A few hundred metres to go, Siska's nearly passed Egelmeers, but the Dutch sculler hoicks the rate again, and throws in some very powerful, sweeping strokes, hauling himself back past. Siska clearly realises it's going to be too tall an effort, and gives in gracefully, settling for a clear second place well up on the rest of the field. The finish time is quite quick, and the Dutch camp can be delighted with Egelmeers' stamina, tactics and strength of character.

Women's coxless pairs, repechage 1 This rep carries GBR, CAN, USA and UKR, and a wealth of talent. Ryan and Kraft (USA) take a short early lead off the defending Canadian champions Luke and Robinson. As the crews reach 500 metres these two are still slightly up, UKR a snip ahead of GBR. Some serious pushes going in now, the American oarswomen not rowing as smoothly and technically as the Canadians, but clearly shoving more power into the water. Canada stay close, the margin now 0.5 seconds at the 1000 metres (a canvas), constantly harrying, but now USA are settling down and appearing more comfortable, rowing more smoothly. UKR are clearly in charge of the race for third, GBR looking pretty agonised now, dropping steadily further behind as they realise the race is going on without them. Into the last quarter, and the question is whether the Canadians are being tactical, or are merely outpowered. But as they move into the spectator area, USA now drawing steadily further ahead, it's clear water, and obviously CAN have nothing to respond with. Both these two crews will make the A final, but the USA get the better lane draw from this result.

Women's coxless pairs, repechage 2 Along with the Canadians, another classy crew were turned over in the heat, so this repechage features Australians Kate Slatter and Rachel Taylor, versus NED, GER and RUS, for the last two A-final places. Slatter won the W2- in Atlanta, so has a serious point to prove here. Off the start, here goes the Aussie pair, winding it out to over a length lead straight away, so that the other crews get no funny ideas about balking them of their finals berth. GER looking good in second place, and the feisty Russian pair also keeping up well, and doing so with some powerful and slightly lower rate racing. Coming to 1000 metres, Slatter and Taylor are now very comfortable in first place, though not letting it off the steam, as the Germans sit just a length behind. Russia still very smooth, NED out of the back, and the Russians stick a little lift in, squeezing back an inch a stroke towards the Germans. Now at 1250 out, the Australian pair are having to pay dearly for their first start, with RUS and GER both closing quickly on the leaders. Almost up to 500 metres to go, the cheering starts, and there is just half a length between each of these three. Russia still in third but almost levelling the Germans, and anybody could win this race. Aussie yells shouting their women on, perhaps the home advantage will keep this pair just in front, yes, it seems to be working. Germany raise again, still just holding second with 150 to go, Russia start a Searle-type dash, and now the Aussies only have a foot clear too. Over the line there's barely a canvas between these three pairs, AUS winning by a few inches, and GER successfully holding off the Russians, whose spirited effort pushed this race all the way. NED fourth, several lengths back. AUS and GER to the A final, RUS and NED to the B final.