|Photo from USRowing|
Heat 2 had AUT's Michaela Taupe-Traer who had been winning two the the World Cups this year, NZL's Lucy Strack who was in the New Zealand double that raced me and Abby out of the LW2x final in the 2010 World Champs, and FRA's Elise Maurin, who I also met in a few races.
|Photo from World Rowing|
|Rowing with SA junior guy|
|John and the NED coaches|
Heat 4 had my training partner from NED, Marie-Anne Franken, and SUI's Pamela Weisshaupt who came 3rd in last years World Champs and also won World cup 3 this year.
So the country countdown begins, Attention.... waiting for the red light to turn green, confirmed by the sound of that distinct buzzer, and we are off. Down the buoyed lane course, setting postion, fighting that first 250m. I was excited to get a feel for the speed. I had an outside lane, so had the advantage of racing on my own focus, but also had to check in to see where my position was. Yip, Greece was gone. I knew going into the last 250m she would win this heat, but it started becoming a tight finish for me and Alena from Belarus. She took the second on me to come in second. It would be DEN, AUT, GRE and CHN to go straight to semi's and the rest of us met the next day for the reps.
Four reps, starting at 4pm. I was in rep two, with NZL and NED and GBR. This time top two to semi. Every race was really a tight fight to make it through to the next round. Usually you can have some confidence in the first steps, or even the rep. But here, before me was another hard race. Off the line we went, and I was working my rhythm. Stroke for stroke, going through my learned processes. At the 1500m mark, I started to confirm positions. I saw that Lucy from NZL was in the lead. But on my right I was fighting with Marie-Anne. We were both fighting for this semi-final spot with all we had. We trained together. Our coaches knew each other. We knew each other's strengths and we also knew the weaknesses. "Go Ursula Go", I chanted. The red buoys of the last 250m came in sight. I heard the finishing buzzer, and I looked over. I had crossed in second. We had the fastest rep time by more than five seconds. Also going through to the semi finals were ITA, AUS, BLR, SUI, BRA and IRL.
|Nienke getting ready for Marie-Anne's race|
|Marie-Anne and Kat from GB|
Saturday was a day of rest, or rather recovery work to prepare for Sunday's final. The usual sweat-run routine, and great paleo-nutrition got me ready as I lined up in lane 3, at 10:20am for my Final A in the LW1x. The light went green and off we go, in our lane, racing to the fastest end of the 2000m. Alexandra was next to me and she is so fast at the start. DEN was on my other side. We worked through the race, first 500m, and I was down. I needed to get to work to gain ground. I started moving up on the field. I heard the support cheering. Next the 1000m, and I was there pushing. We went under the overhang bridge which made a strong landmark divider on the course. We held positions, I was somewhere in the second and third crowd. BLR and AUT were next to each other, and next to them GRE, and then me. Into the last stokes, and I crossed in 4th. Damn. Wooden medal again. It was a repeat position from last year. But the times were much faster. In flat conditions, not even a helping tail wind, GRE was only 4 sec 22 thousands away from the World Record. The record is 7:28.15 done in 1994, Paris by Romania's Constanţa Burcică who would race in the great Romanian eight later on in her career. By comparison, the Lightweight Men who raced right after us, were 9 sec 48 thousands off the record. Fellow USRower Andrew Campbell took a bronze in the LM1x.
USRowing - crews advancing to finals
WorldRowing - Semi Final report
USRowing - the next big stage
SportsGraphics - racing pictures