The U.S. women's double sculls crew of Ellen Tomek and Meghan O'Leary used a monster finish to charge through the two-time defending world champions from New Zealand to snatch the third and final spot in Thursday's gold medal final. Seemingly out of the running at the halfway point of the race, the U.S. crew pushed through the field, posting the fastest 1000m split time of any of the boats in the race to surge into contention, then passed the gold-medal favorite New Zealand crew just strokes before the finish line.
"We crossed the line and I knew it was close," said O'Leary. "I knew were jockeying back and forth with New Zealand. We were looking at the screen, as soon as I saw USA, it was amazing, the three best letters in the alphabet right now. New Zealand is a class act, they are known as an amazing sprint crew. So it is just unbelievable to come through them in the last few meters."
Gevvie Stone of Team USA, racing in the women’s single sculls, notched a nice win for the U.S. today, taking her quarterfinal with a strong win ahead of Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland and Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. The win sends Stone to the Thursday semifinals races, where she will race for spot in the medals final.
"It was windier during my race," Stone said, following her event. "But I'm OK with that. So it was a little bit of managing conditions and trying to get power on it. I've raced Jeannine and (Lobnig) a lot over the past two years, so you kind of get used to each other's tendencies. I tried to make the most of my base rhythm, because that's my strength."
Stone posted the second-fastest time overall in the event during the quarterfinal round, and looks to be in medal contention.
The other contenders in the women’s single sculls were equal to the task as well, as New Zealand’s Emma Twigg and gold-medal favorite Kim Brennan of Australia both took the wins in their quarterfinals.
A treat for spectators was the men’s single sculls quarterfinals race between medal contenders and fierce rivals Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic and New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale, the 2015 world champ and runner up, respectively. Score one for Drysdale, who took the quarterfinal ahead of Synek, and just might have picked up a few psych points enroute to the later stages of the regatta. Both men qualified for the semifinal.
Darkhorse contender Hannes Obreno of Belgium, who defeated Drysdale earlier this summer at the Henley Royal Regatta, also captured his quarterfinal, and will be one to watch is this event moves on towards the medal race.
The fastest qualifier from the quarterfinals was Croatia’s Damir Martin, who finished ahead of London 2012 bronze medalist Alan Campbell of Great Britain.
The U.S. did not qualify an athlete for the event.
Also staying alive for medal contention was the U.S. lightweight women’s double sculls crew of Kate Bertko and Devery Karz. Despite a bobble early in the race, the crew recovered to take the win in their repechage, and will race in the semifinals for a shot at the Olympic final on Wednesday.
Not advancing out of the semifinals today were the U.S. men’s pair of Nareg Guregian and Anders Weiss, as well as the lightweight men’s four of Tyler Nase, Edward King, Anthony Fahden and Robin Prendes. These two crews will race in the B-finals on Thursday, for Olympic places 7-12.