Londoners to row at worlds

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

There's no leaving the heavyweights behind this time.

Londoner Jane Rumball and partner Darcy Marquardt of Richmond, B.C., blasted through Fanshawe Lake swiftly enough during national team trials yesterday morning to nail down a spot in the world rowing championships set for Eton, England, later this month.

Last year, the Canadians failed to bring a women's heavyweight crew to the world championships and were noticeable in their absence. That won't be the case this worlds, Aug. 20-27.

"It was a shock to us last year because with the history of rowing in this country, you expect to have someone at worlds," the 28-year-old Rumball said. "It made all of us more determined coming into this year and everyone's been really positive in training.

"The Canadian standard is set for what would qualify as a gold medal in Beijing (at the Olympics), so you can say it's a high standard, but that's the mystique and the excellence of Canadian rowing.

"It's great because it gives the rowers confidence that when you do get to worlds, you have an excellent chance of winning a medal."

Marquardt, 27, and Rumball will be in the mix for a women's pairs medal after a strong start to the partnership -- top spot at the opening World Cup stop in Munich, Germany, in late May.

"We were put together right before Munich and there was the instant realization that the two of us together were faster than either of us were separately," Rumball said. "That's what you look for in a partner and it was a boost to have a good result right away. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep improving and get faster the rest of the season."

There's a major responsibility that goes along with being a dynamic Canadian duo in rowing and Rumball isn't taking it lightly.

"Given the history (of champion rowers like Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle), there's a spotlight there and it's exciting," the Western PhD student said. "Getting to worlds and having success there is hopefully a start."

The national team will also send to the worlds a women's eight, which includes 46-year-old mainstay Lesley Thompson-Willie as coxswain.

It's all good news for new national senior women's coach Carsten Hassing, a 39-year-old Dane who moved to London three months ago with a reputation for developing competitive crews in his home country.

Longtime coach Al Morrow has taken over a crucial development position in Rowing Canada's evolving hierarchy. Hassing comes to Canada off three Olympic cycles with Denmark and quality results with its national program.

"You always come in with your own techniques, but you have to approach change carefully because there's a great history in Canadian rowing already in place," Hassing said. "There's a lot right already with the quality of athletes and the commitment so you might see one or two things here that you know can work and try to implement those when you can.

"It's an experience for me, too, to be able to work in this environment and I like what we have in London."

On the men's side, veteran Barney Williams, Kyle Hamilton, Scott Fransen and Benjamin Rutledge qualified in the four while the eight, including Londoner Adam Kreek, is heading to Eton, too.

The national team will prepare for Eton by first heading to Erba, Italy, on Monday for a 10-day training camp.

Unfortunately, 38-year-old Canadian rowing legend Derek Porter won't be on the water as his amazing comeback hit a snag when partner Jake Wetzel blew out his back before coming to London.


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