POZNAN, Poland – Canada’s men’s eight captured silver Sunday at the world rowing championships, the lone highlight in a largely disappointing day for Canadian crews.
Aided by a strong tailwind at Malta Lake, the Canadians crossed the line in five minutes 27.15 seconds, well back of the gold medal winners from Germany (5:24.13). The Netherlands placed third in 5:28.32, edging out the host Polish team by less than a tenth of a second.
Canada coxswain Mark Laidlaw said he expected the race to be a challenging one.
“I was very aware of Germany during the race, but I knew that the Dutch were making a push and Poland had made an impressive charge,” said Laidlaw.
Coach Mike Spracklen was pleasantly surprised by the result.
“It was nice to get a silver medal in the eight,” said Spracklen. “If you asked me three months ago I would have not predicted that would happen. There are a lot of new guys.”
The team consists of Laidlaw, Derek O’Farrell of Unionville, Ont., James Dunaway of Duncan, B.C., Malcolm Howard of Victoria, B.C., Andrew Byrnes of Toronto, Ont., Doug Csima of Oakville, Ont., Gabe Bergen of 100 Mile House, B.C., and Rob Gibson of Kingston, Ont., and VanKnotsenburg of Beamsville, Ont.
Only Howard and Byrnes were part of the men’s eight crew that won gold at last year’s Beijing Olympics.
Medal hopefuls Doug Vandor of Dewittville, Que. and Cam Sylvester of Caledon, Ont. finished fifth in the lightweight men’s double. New Zealand won in 6:10.62, France was second in 6:12.57, and Italy finished third in 6:15.08. Vandor and Sylvester crossed in 6:23.08.
Lindsay Jennerich of Victoria, B.C. and Sheryl Preston of North Delta, B.C. also had high hopes for Sunday’s race, but finished sixth in their final.
“One and one just didn’t add up to two,” said Preston, who paired with Jennerich to reach the podium twice in World Cups this year. “We are disappointed but not discouraged.”
In the first race of Sunday’s final, the men’s coxed pair of Laidlaw, Jan Tize of West Vancouver and Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont., finished fourth overall in 6:57.55. The U.S. won the race in 6:53.58, followed by Czech Republic (6:54.58) and Germany (6:55.44).
The lightweight women’s quad team, made up of Katya Herman of Sudbury, Ont., Kristin Jeffery of Newmarket, Ont., Lauren Wells of London, Ont., and Tanya Lahdenranta of Surrey, B.C., just missed out on a medal in morning action. The crew maintained a tight third position until the last part of the race when they were edged out by the Americans.
Germany won gold, while Britain was second.
“We’ve tended to be good in the last 500 metres,” said Herman. “But the other crews just stepped it up.”
The U.S. captured the women’s eight in a time of 6:05.34, while Romania (6:06.94) and the Netherlands (6:07.43) rounded out the podium. Canada was sixth in 6:16.68.
The Canadian women’s eight team consists of Sarah Bonikowsky of Orangeville, Ont., Ashley Brzozowicz of Toronto, Ont., Peggy DeVos of Kamloops, B.C., Larissa Lagzdins of Burlington, ON., Romina Stefancic of Victoria, Jane Rumball of Fredericton, N.B., Krista Guloien of Port Moody, B.C., Lauren Hutchins of North Vancouver, B.C. and Lesley Thompson-Willie of London, Ont.