Mon, September 23, 2013

Canada men's eights stumble in Olympic rowing

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency


Team Canada rows during the men's eight heat at the Eton Dorney during the London 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, July 28, 2012. (JIM YOUNG/Reuters)

LONDON - The Canadian men’s eights knew they were in for a tough time on Day 1 of the Olympic rowing event at Eton Dorney, but perhaps they didn’t realize how tough it would be.

Canada, the defending Olympic champions, finished fourth in their extraordinarily difficult heat, a race featuring the defending world championship German crew, the Brits — the defending world silver medallists — and the Dutch, a team that has also won medals on the World Cup circuit this season.

The Germans won the heat in 5:25.52, while Canada pulled in at 5:37.91, about nine seconds slower than the crew from the Netherlands. Still, despite the tough competition, the finish was not exactly what the Canadians were looking for, though they can still move to the final via the repechage.

“We’re unhappy,” said crew member Malcolm Howard. “We didn’t do what we set up to do. We’ll have to improve on Monday.”

There was good news on the rowing course for Canada. The men’s pair of David Calder of Victoria, B.C. and Scott Frandsen, Kelowna, B.C. won their heats in 6:23.80 and advanced to the semi-finals.

“It was a really good first step for us,” said Frandsen. “We got into our rhythm and followed our race plan. We weren’t distracted by the Olympic hype or boats around us. We pushed away in the middle 1000 and then controlled the race through. It couldn’t have gone any better for us today.”

The team to beat is the defending world champions from New Zealand, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, who won their heat in an a world-best time, 6:08.50.

“It’s definitely impressive,” said Frandsen. “But we’re not racing times. We’re racing them.”

Asked if he wants to race the Kiwis in the semis, Frandsen replied: “Part yeah, part no. I’m fairly indifferent.”

The Canadian men’s double crew of Michael Braithwaite of Duncan, B.C. and Kevin Kowalyk of Winnipeg were fifth in their heat in 6:34.11 and will also move on the repechage.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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