British Rowing at the Olympics

XXVIIth Olympics
September 2000
Rachel Quarrell running from-TV commentary on selected races.
Olympic Reports Battling lightweights close in on the finals - September 22nd 2000

Live-written stroke-by-stroke coverage of some of the Group B semi-finals. Quite a few of these events now have only A finals with crews already qualified, so the racing was a bit shortened today.

Men's lightweight coxless fours, semi-final 1 Aussie hopes are high in this, facing FRA, IRL, GER, AUT and USA. Australia get safely away, the French four sliding along in their shadow. The lead isn't big, but enough for now. AUT and USA are cat-fighting for third, trading pushes steadily. Mid-way, AUS hold off another FRA assault, and GER and IRL droop to the back of the field. Coming to the spectators' area, Australia haven't managed to drop the pack yet, FRA dogging them hard and USA overlapping the French stern. AUT next, and IRL, GER well out of it. Only AUT have the chance to change the qualification result, but the top three crews are storming it to try and psych each other out. 150 to go, FRA summon up a massive sprint and dash blindly for the line, closing all the time and a photofinish in it. USA safe in third, and the rest to the B final. AUS get it by the width of half a bowball, but the French won't be disappointed by their own speed.

Men's lightweight coxless fours, semi-final 2 What a start: I'm clocking ITA at 52 (!) off the blocks. Phenomenal aggression from the lightweight boys, making up in spirit for what they lack in muscles. No surprises to see the Danish bow right up on the field from early on, another fly-and-die perhaps? Next in the pack are South Africa and Russia, with Italy hot on their heels. At 600 out the Danes are still clearly up, but haven't quite got clear water, which they will need to break the spirit of their opponents. However, they're going to benefit from being in lane one, where many crews will struggle to see how far ahead they are, and perhaps they can catch them napping. Here come the Dutch four like rockets, blasting up to second place, just half a length down on DEN at 1000 metres gone. This is a hell of a race, ITA now looking strong, RSA still solid, and everyone is reeling the Danes in rapidly: the field crosses the 1500 metre mark in echelon, almost level. CAN starting a serious wind, DEN being dropped by them. ITA and RSA are neck and neck at the front now, ITA just doing a push with 200 to go, CAN coming through hard from the back of the pack to challenge DEN, NED trailing a little and RUS a lot. Over the line, and

Women's lightweight double sculls, semi-final 1 Lane order CAN, AUS, GER, ROM, FRA, BUL, and some very experienced lightweights in this event. FRA putting their noses in front first, ROM and CAN not far behind, and ROM visibly squeezing on to push through into the front. 750 gone, they nearly have clear water in the Romanian double, with AUS and GER both surging forward to challenge the French, and the Canadians slipping back badly. FRA back into fourth by 800 gone, some great moves here, and GER looking extremely smooth, while ROM display a surging power. Into the third quarter and ROM, GER are pulling steadily away, AUS trying to go with them, all three of these crews losing the back three quickly. At 1400 ROM and GER have much clear water over AUS, but CAN and FRA are trying to come back on the latter and get the last qualifying place. ROM haul it on, now clearing the Germans comfortably, and FRA have barely closed the gap on AUS, so ROM, GER, AUS take the A-final places, FRA, CAN, BUL to the B-final.

Women's lightweight double sculls, semi-final 2 For the second semi, the line-up is CHN, NED, USA, SUI, GRE, POL. Off the start, GRE get the quickest first strokes, but SUI and USA wind well, the USA's bowball hitting the first 250 metre mark in front. They continue to lean on it, opening out a lead of a third of a length and holding it, but with the Swiss double stalking closely behind. At the 500, POL and NED are levelling for third/fourth, CHN and GRE for fifth/last. The places hold through the next quarter, if anything the American lead increasing a fraction, but but NED and POL closing up towards the Swiss to make it a tight race for the three qualifying places. POL burning through 1250, closing inch-wise on NED who are still snailing towards SUI, CHN and GRE still out of the back of the pack. SUI spurt in response, which brings them back towards the USA as they pass 1500. USA now have to pile the pressure on to defend their lead, and launch into an early burn, still with several hundred metres to go, pulling away from SUI again. Still the positions are maintained, but the margin between NED and SUI is closing again. The Dutch are nearly level, challenging for the second place, POL won't be able to match this, USA still safe. USA by a length, NED by a foot over SUI (photofinish), with POL, CHN and GRE to the B final.

British B-final results Round-up: First off, no C/D semi-finals for Tom Middleton and Tom Kaye in the ML2x, after the Russians withdrew to leave just a C final race on Saturday. Four British crews were on show today in the petite finals (B-finals) for the Group A events = F2x, F2-, M1x and F1x. It was an encouraging race for the women's double sculls, in which Frances Houghton and Sarah Winckless finished third to give them overall 9th in the world: a good result after the confusion caused by the joint reselection of the British quad and double during mid-August. Next came their sweep-oar equivalents, previous world champions Dot Blackie and Cath Bishop, who could only manage fourth in the B-final (10th overall), in a year which has seen them struggle from start to finish. Men's and women's single scullers Matthew Wells and Alison Mowbray also finished 3rd (9th) and 4th (10th) respectively, which are excellent results in the light of their relative novice status at this level, and in one of the psychologically toughest events. All in all, good showings, solid experiences to tuck under the belt, and in many cases no more than could be expected. Wells and Houghton in particular are names to note: along with the talented spare Debbie Flood, these youngsters are some of our brightest future medal hopes.