U.S. rowing lining up for a medal run

The women’s double sculls advanced to the final, while the women’s single sculls, women’s pair and lightweight women’s double sculls advanced to the semifinals, highlighting Sunday’s racing at the Sea Forest Waterway at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

In the women’s double sculls, three-time Olympian Gevvie Stone (Newton, Mass/Princeton University) and Kristi Wagner (Weston, Mass./Yale University) will get a chance to race for the medals on Wednesday thanks to a third-place finish in today’s semifinals.

With three to advance, Stone and Wagner got off the line in sixth position but were able to close the gap by the midway point of the race. In the third 500 meters, the U.S. duo moved into a qualifying position and tried to close the gap on the two leading crews.

“I think one thing that we did improve on from our heat to today was the second 250,” Wagner said. “I think we lost a lot in that, especially to New Zealand in the heat, and I think today we started moving a little bit sooner. It still wasn’t quite as much as we wanted, but we came into the middle 1,000 in a little bit of a better spot than Friday.”

The Netherlands and Canada battled each other at the head of the field, with the Dutch boat taking an early lead before the Canadians held the top spot through the middle 1,000 meters. In the final sprint, The Netherlands was able to chase down Canada to earn the victory.

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Photo courtesy of USA Rowing

The Dutch crew won the race with a time of 7:08.09, followed by Canada in a 7:09.44. The U.S finished with a time of 7:11.14.

“You have to place top three to race for the medals,” Stone said. “We did that. That is the first priority. One of the guys I row with wrote us an email and said the semifinal is like the Wednesday of the work week. It’s kind of true. It’s really hard, and it’s not the most fun race. But, we have to get through it to get to the fun part. We went out there, and we knew that we had to be tough in the headwind and that’s exactly where we were. It wasn’t the prettiest of starts, but we were tough through that base rhythm and enjoyed every gust of headwind we got.”

Stone and Wagner will take on The Netherlands, Lithuania, Canada, Romania and New Zealand in the final. In the women’s single sculls, two-time Olympian Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif./University of California, Berkeley) finished second in her quarterfinal to advance to Thursday’s semifinals.

With three to advance, Kohler took the lead over Serbia’s Jovana Arsic in the opening quarter of the race, with Ireland’s Sanita Puspure sitting in third and China’s Yan Jiang in fourth. Kohler continued to lead by just about a second as the scullers hit the midway point of the race, with Jiang moving into second and Puspure holding the third position.

The defending world champion from Ireland began to close the gap on Kohler during the third quarter of the race, pulling up nearly even with just 500 meters to go. Puspure was able to maintain that momentum over the final stretch to claim the victory in a 7:58.30. Kohler finished just over a second behind in a 7:59.39, with Jiang taking the final qualification spot in an 8:00.01.

“I was certainly very nervous,” Kohler said. “I’ll probably be very nervous for every race here, but my plan was to race for the full 2k and see how that went, so that’s what I did. I don’t know what they’re doing (in terms of rating.) I’m just sensing them on the course. I didn’t know that Sanita was rating higher. I guess I could’ve assumed that considering I was rating pretty low. That’s something I want to improve on for the next race.”

Kohler will take on scullers from Iran, Austria, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain in the second of two semifinals on Thursday.

Racing in the first of two repechages of the lightweight women’s double sculls, the U.S. duo of Michelle Sechser (Folsom, Calif./University of Tulsa) and Molly Reckford (Short Hills, N.J./Dartmouth College) dominated their race, winning by nearly six seconds to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals.

With three to advance, the U.S. took an early lead on Japan in the first 500 meters and then made a strong move to pull away from the field in the second 500 meters. Sechser and Reckford extended their lead to more than two lengths of open water with 500 meters to go and cruised to the easy victory.

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The U.S. finished with a time of 7:21.25, with Belarus crossing in a 7:26.99. Japan took the third qualifying spot in a 7:34.45.

“We knew that (it was) not ideal to be in the rep,” Sechser said. “While we were confident that we (would be) able to show up and get the job done in the race this morning, there’s still a lot on the line. One more mistake or not getting the right rhythm or clipping the buoys they have on the course could end the dream for us a lot sooner than expected … Getting a second run down the track for Molly and I is still a really good thing. This still is a new crew. We haven’t put together an international campaign yet, so staying really positive about what we can learn each trip down the course is really going to help us.”

Sechser and Reckford will take on Russia, Canada, Romania, Italy and Japan in the second of two semifinals on Wednesday.

In the women’s pair, the U.S. duo of Megan Kalmoe (St. Croix Falls, Wis./University of Washington) and Tracy Eisser (Fair Lawn, N.J./Cornell University) finished second in their repechage to advance to the semifinals.

With three to advance, Kalmoe and Eisser got off the line in fourth position before moving into third place in the second 500 meters. Ireland held a slight lead at the 500-meter mark before Greece moved into the top spot. The U.S. boat overtook Ireland just after the midway point, closing the gap on the leaders, but Greece was able to withstand the challenge over the final 500 meters to claim the victory.

Greece clocked a 7:28.00 to finish 1.87 seconds ahead of the U.S., which clocked a 7:29.87. Kalmoe and Eisser will take on Italy, Romania, New Zealand, Russia and Spain in the second of two semifinals on Wednesday.

The women’s four of Grace Luczak (Ann Arbor, Mich./Stanford University), Kendall Chase (Evergreen, Colo./University of California, Berkeley), Claire Collins (McLean, Va./Princeton University) and Madeleine Wanamaker (Neenah, Wis./University of Wisconsin) finished fifth in their repechage and now will race in the B final for places 7-10.

With two to advance to the final, the U.S. boat got off the line in third position behind Poland and Great Britain. During the second quarter of the race, the British crew took the lead, with the Polish crew in second and Romania moving into third.

The Romanians tried to chase down the leading crews over the back half of the race, but Great Britain and Poland were able to hold on to advance to the final. Great Britain finished with a time of 6:46.20, with Poland crossing in a 6:46.57. Romania finished third, less than a second behind.

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Photo courtesy of USA Rowing

The U.S. finished with a time of 6:53.26 and will take on Romania, Canada and Denmark in the B final.

The women’s quadruple sculls crew of Ellen Tomek (Flushing, Mich./University of Michigan), Meghan O’Leary (Baton Rouge, La./University of Virginia), Alie Rusher (West Bend, Wis./Stanford University), and Cicely Madden (Weston, Mass./Brown University) finished sixth in their repechage and also will race in the B final for places 7-10.

ustralia led a tight, four-way race, through the midway point before Italy pulled ahead in the third 500 meters. However, the Australian crew was able to respond and retook the lead in the final 250 meters, winning the race in a 6:36.67. Italy took the second spot to also qualify for the final, finishing less than a second behind Australia.

The U.S. finished with a time of 6:50.74 and will race New Zealand, Great Britain, and France in the B final.

Racing will resume on Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. local time (7:10 p.m. EDT on Tuesday). Racing originally scheduled for Monday was pushed up to today due to incoming weather. Tuesday’s racing also has been postponed.

Tuesday’s originally scheduled medal races for the men’s and women’s quadruple sculls have been moved to Wednesday, while the semifinals in the men’s and women’s pairs and lightweight double sculls also have been moved to Wednesday. The semifinals in the men’s and women’s single sculls have been moved from Wednesday to Thursday. Click here for the most up-to-date schedule on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 website.

The U.S. will have seven crews racing on Wednesday. The women’s double sculls and men’s four will be racing for medals, while the lightweight women’s double sculls and women’s pair will be racing in semifinals. The men’s eight will be racing in the repechage, while the women’s four and women’s quadruple sculls will be racing in B finals.