Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Final berths decided at Beijing Paralympics rowing event

Wednesday's repechages of all four boat classes have determined the rest finalists for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games rowing regatta at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park.

In the first repechage of the day, Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus and Svitlana Kupriianova from Ukraine advanced to Thursday's final of the women's single sculls after finishing first and second respectively in slight headwind conditions.

The rowers were far too good for third-place finisher Agnese Moro from Italy and the rest of the field.

China's outstanding qualification results at the first-ever Paralympic rowing regatta continued when Zhang Jinhong took the second repechage in this event with 13.34 seconds ahead of reigning world champion Claudia Santos from Brazil.

The four rowers will in Thursday's final join 2006 world champion Helene Raynsford from Britain and Ukraine's Svitlana Kupriianova, who earned direct entry after finishing top of respective heat on Tuesday.

While Zhang led from the start, Santos had a great battle with Martyna Snopek of Poland for second place and a lift in stroke rate over the final 200 meters saw the Braizilian advance to the medal race.

"With unfavourable wind condition today, I had to make a change to my planned tactics. But I really feared that I might make a lot of mistakes. Anyway, I decided to challenge myself and I made it," said Zhang.

"I am happy that I beat Santos twice. Before the race I told my coach not to let me know whom I was going to compete against as that could make me more focused.

"I will not think too much about the final but hope the wind will get weaker."

With Britain's world champion and world-best time setter Tom Aggar and Ukraine's Oleksandr Petrenko already in Thursday's final of the men's single sculls, competition for the remaining four places was fierce.

Tan Yeteng of China and Ronald Harvey of the United States staged a tense two-way battle for the entire length of the 1000m course to take the first two berths of the men's repechage races. Little separated the frontrunners for most of the journey, but a powerful effort by Tan with 200m to go made him victorious by a length and a quarter.

They'll be joined in Thursday's final by Israel's Eli Nawi and Australia's Dominic Moneypenny who both improved on lacklustre Tuesday heat rows to give themselves a chance at securing a medal. Nawi was particularly impressive, turning a 4.22 second advantage over the field at the 500m half way mark into a 13.15 second win.

"It's very difficult as Tom Aggar is the champion. He's the king of the river. He's very good, but I won't give up. I am doing just fine if I can only get the silver," said Nawi.

Australia's Kathryn Ross and John Maclean produced one of the most controlled victories of the day when they took out the first repechage of the mixed double sculls over Britain's James Roberts and Karen Cromie with a winning margin of 10.50 seconds.

The two teams advanced to the final along with Repechage 2 first and second place getters Italy and Poland.

In the repechages of the mixed coxed fours, the teams from Britain, the United States, Canada and slightly out-of-form world champions Germany advanced into the final on Thursday.


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