Oh my, I love this: Official Olympic rowing preview. Bless you.
The previous picks were done before last year’s World Championships, so we’ll have some revisions.
So turn backwards in your seat. Away we go …
Single sculls: Olaf Tufte, the defending champion from Norway, may finally be out of the picture. The podium places over the past three world championships have been split between Beijing silver medalist Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic), Beijing bronze medalist Mahe Drysdale (New Zealand) and Britain’s Alan Campbell. Over that time: Drysdale has two firsts and a second, Synek has one of each, Campbell has a second and two thirds. Ken Jurkowski, 11th in Beijing and in 2011 Worlds, is the American. Projection was CZE-GBR-NOR; now New Zealand, Czech Republic, Britain
Double sculls: New Zealand’s Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan have back-to-back world titles. Britain’s Matthew Wells, a bronze medalist with Stephen Rowbotham (how many jokes about his name and sport did he hear growing up?), teamed with Marcus Bateman for second in 2010 and sixth in 2011. France’s Cedric Berest and Julian Bahain have finished on the podium in 2009, 10 and 11. Germany has mixed up its boat a bit but won in 2009 and took second in 2011. Australia’s David Crawshay and Scott Brennan, the Olympic champions, have been working their way back up and took fourth in 2011. The USA didn’t qualify. We’re sticking with the original picks: New Zealand, Britain, Australia
Lightweight double sculls: Britain’s Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter won in 2008, 2010 and 2011, though we’re warned that they’re out of form this year. New Zealand’s Storm Uru and Peter Taylor won the other world title and followed up with third and second. Italy has mixed up its boat over the year but finished on the podium three straight years. The rowing fed’s media guide says a new French duo, Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou, made smashing debut this year. This is the second of the two events in which the USA didn’t qualify. Was GBR-ITA-NZL; now Britain, New Zealand, Italy
Quadruple sculls: Poland has suddenly dropped off a bit after winning in 2008 and 2009, missing Worlds in 2010 and taking fourth in 2011. Croatia has gone fourth-first-third. Australia has been ever-present on the podium — second, third, first. Germany has two podium finishes, Italy one. Could we see a complete changeover since Poland, Italy and France medaled in 2008? Maybe so. Was CRO-POL-ITA; now Australia, Croatia, Germany
Coxless pair: Bond. Hamish Bond. He and Eric Murray have been dominant for New Zealand, with three straight world titles. Britain finished second each time, but the media guide tells us Britain reshuffled to give the men’s four a better shot. Greece has gone third-third-fourth. Italy has traded places with Greece in the last two years. The USA’s Tom Peczek has experience in other boats; Silas Stafford is a newcomer. Was GBR-NZL-GRE; now New Zealand, Greece, Italy
Coxless four: So Britain made this event a priority, even after winning in 2011, and yet Australia has a win over Britain this year. Greece has a couple of runner-up finishes from the past two years, France won in 2010, and New Zealand and Australia took turns on the podium each year. Then look who finished fifth in 2010 and fourth in 2011 — the USA. Was FRA-GRE-GBR; now Britain, Australia, Greece
Lightweight coxless four: Australia has the world title after finishing second in 2010. Britain won in 2010 and slipped to third in 2011 behind Australia and Italy. China has been in the top four the past two years. Olympic champion Denmark is trying to climb back but was fifth in 2011. We’ll stick with Britain, Australia, China
Eight: Germany hasn’t lost since 2009. Britain has been running second in the last two years, and you wonder if the hosts might turn it up a notch in such a glamourous event. The USA has struggled in this Olympic cycle, with Australia and Canada taking turns on the podium. We’ll stick with Germany, Britain, Australia
Single sculls: Belarus’s Ekaterina Karsten is still going at age 40, winning the 2009 title and placing second in 2010 and 2011. The last two world champions are Sweden’s Frida Svensson (fifth in 2011) and the Czech Republic’s Mirka Knapkova (fourth in 2012). New Zealand’s Emma Trigg is a consistent third. The USA’s Gevvie Stone was 11th in 2011. Was SWE-BLR-NZL; now Czech Republic, Belarus, New Zealand.
Double sculls: Britain’s Katherine Grainger has three Olympic silver medals, going back and forth between different events. Bronze medalist Anna Bebington, now Anna Watkins, joined her for a dominant win at Worlds in 2010, and they haven’t lost since. Australia has been runner-up each of the last two years. Poland and the Czech Republic have made each of the last two A finals (six boats), but New Zealand was third and Ukraine fourth in 2011. The USA made the A final in 2008, 2009 and 2010 — Margot Shumway has been in A finals in quadruple sculls, and Sarah Trowbridge was ninth in this event in 2011. Was GBR-AUS-POL; now Britain, Australia, New Zealand
Lightweight double sculls: Greece’s Christina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou won the world title in 2009 and 2011, placing second to Canada in the interim year. Canada also took second in 2011, though the crew hasn’t been the same. Others have been less consistent, but Britain has at least made three straight A finals and made the podium twice. Poland and Germany account for the other podiums in the last three Worlds. The USA’s Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom placed fourth in 2011 and won the overall World Cup. Was CAN-GER-GRE; now Greece, Britain, Canada
Quadruple sculls: Ukraine has put a big emphasis on this event, the media guide tells us, and they won the 2009 world title. But they slipped to second the next year and sixth in 2011. Germany has been on the podium all three years and took first in 2011. Second in 2009 and 2011: the USA. Britain won in 2010, and Australia has been lurking outside the podium places. Was GBR-UKR-GER; now Germany, Ukraine, USA
Coxless pair: New Zealand’s Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown, the former a 2008 finalist, have back-to-back world titles. Britain’s Helen Glover and Heather Stanning were second each year. The USA won in 2009 but slipped to third in 2010 and out of the A final in 2011. They’re reloaded with Sarah Zelenka and Sara Hendershot, half of the world championship fours boat in 2011. Australia’s Sarah Tait and Kate Hornsey, both of whom rowed in the eights in Beijing, have improved to third in 2011. Was NZL-GBR-USA; now New Zealand, Britain, Australia
Eight: USA. USA. USA. USA. Not cheering, just listing the winner of every major race in this event for the last half-decade and change. Canada has been second each of the last two years. Britain has improved each of the last three years — fifth, fourth and third. So we’ll leave the projection as is: USA, Canada, Britain