A determined women’s eight made it back-to-back silver medals in a photo finish at the rowing world championships on Sunday.
The team of Lisa Roman, Stephanie Grauer, Madison Mailey, Susanne Grainger, Christine Roper, Sydney Payne, Jennifer Martins, Rebecca Zimmerman and coxswain Kristen Kit posted a time of six minutes 3.05 seconds in the A final at Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Sitting fourth at the halfway mark, Canada took charge and closed the gap on Australia by increasing its stroke rate to 42, grabbing silver by an eighth of a second over the Aussies, who came in at 6:03.86.
“Kit made the call at the 600-metre mark, we all responded and it was an awesome race,” Martins told Rowing Canada Aviron. “We were a bit shaken after our heat [6:07.69] but we still believed we were better than that. We knew we had another gear.
“Going into this A final we had to be mentally tough as we had a lane that was not favoured, so we needed to pull together and commit to that mental strength.”
An ‘honour’ to be in Canadian boat
The United States won in 6:00.97, regaining the world championship it held from 2006 to 2016.
Grauer said it was an “honour” to share the Canadian boat with Zimmerman, Grainger, Roper, Roman, Martins and Kit, all of whom were part of the silver-medal winning group a year ago in Sarasota, Fla., that made a late push to pass the U.S. and New Zealand over the final 250 metres to finish in 6:07.09.
“They have been my idols and to have an amazing regatta like this really speaks to their leadership, on and off the water,” said the 21-year-old from Vancouver.
Tracy Van Asseldonk of Abbotsford, B.C., finished sixth (12:20.31) in PR1 women’s single sculls, with Norway’s Birgit Skarstein crossing the line first in 10:13.63.
In the women’s double sculls final, Gabrielle Smith of Unionville, Ont., and Victoria’s Andrea Proske were sixth in a field of six in 6:56.01. Lithuania won in 6:44.15.
Carling Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., placed third in the B final of women’s single sculls in 7:33.84) and ninth overall. Australia led the way in a time of 7:26.85.
Zeeman, while disappointed she didn’t qualify for the A final, was happy for the opportunity to compete at a world championship.
I am impressed with the leadership of the returning veterans, coupled with the tenacity of athletes that represented Canada at a world championship for the first time.
— Canada high performance director Iain Brambell
“This result made me realize how much this sport means to me and what a gift it is to feel such euphoric highs and devastating lows,” said the 27-year-old who won captured silver in July at the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Canada’s men’s eight collected a silver medal for its 5:27.97 performance in the B final and placed eighth overall. The Netherlands topped the field in 5:24.52.
The Canadian men’s crew includes Matt Buie, Kai Langerfeld, Conlin McCabe, Ben de Wit, Tim Schrijver, Martin Barakso, Dave DeGroot, Jakub Buczek and coxswain Jane Gumley.
Canada’s contingent left Bulgaria with four medals and placed sixth overall.
“Our focus was to achieve A final performances [top six] while fighting for the podium,” said high performance director Iain Brambell. “This was accomplished with 10 of 15 crews making the finals, with four podium performances and three fourth-place finishes.
“I am impressed with the leadership of the returning veterans, coupled with the tenacity of athletes that represented Canada at a world championship for the first time.”