Aside from a sudden downpour, racing conditions were glorious on the final day of competition at the second World Cup. The world class competition provided a key stepping stone for many Olympic hopefuls as they march towards Tokyo. For some it was their first opportunity to compete for a medal on the world stage this season. While others knew it would be their last competition before a return to high volume training and beastly erg workouts.
Great Britain won three gold medals as did China. A further 14 nations return home with one or more medals. The Chinese won the women’s quadruple sculls, the men’s double sculls, and the lightweight women’s single. The British took the lightweight women’s sculls, the men’s eight and the men’s four. Two additional minor medals meant the British topped the table.
The Dutch ranked third on the medal table. Netherlands secured two golds, and three minor medals – one silver, two bronze. Their men’s quadruple sculls took the top spot on the podium as did the Dutch women’s four. It was a brutal contest in the men’s quadruple sculls with Great Britain and Italy pushing the reigning World Champions all the way to the finish. The Dutch women’s four will look to repeat their golden performance at Tokyo.
Three nations competed for the men’s eight. It was a very tight race between the World Champion German boat and the European Champions from Great Britain while the Netherlands were never really in the race. Neither GB nor Germany were able to break free, and it went bowball-to-bowball all the way to a photo finish. Great Britain crossed the line first. Tokyo will be the next time these two crews will meet. The British men’s four dominated their race beating London 2012 Olympic Champion John Smith in the South African crew. South Africa took the silver medal ahead of Romania who won the bronze medal.
One of the best finishes of the day came by way of the women’s single sculls. The Russian held her nerve as Kara Kohler of the United States and Sanita Puspure of Ireland charged towards the finish. Hanna Prakhatsen took the gold medal ahead of the American and continues her winning streak. It was Kohler’s first international race since winning bronze at the 2019 World Rowing Championships. Sanita Puspure was happy to be back and felt sure she will find more speed. It was her first competition since 2020. She felt nervous at the start on Friday but improved with each race – she goes home with the bronze medal.
The American women’s double produced a medal-winning performance in their first international competition. They reeled back their European opponents after a particularly slow start. Gevvie Stone who postponed her medical career for one last shot at Olympic glory said she even felt “a bit of wake from the media launch”. It was Kristi Wagner’s first experience of Lucerne and she was pleased to get the bronze medal. Bodnar and Radis the current European Champions controlled the race from the front and Romania’s only gold medal of the World Cup never looked under threat. The Netherlands settled for the silver medal six seconds off first place.
In the men’s double sculls China competed for the first time since winning the 2019 World Rowing Championships. After the race Liu and Zhang said they had come to “test their speed”. Winning the gold medal was a good outcome for the Chinese scullers and they were pleased with their race. Like the Linz World Championships in 2019 it was the Irish who took silver and Great Britain missing out in fourth place. Doyle and Byrne produced a much-improved performance after their disappointing seventh place at the European Championship. The Netherlands claimed the bronze medal. A highly anticipated French crew failed to deliver and limped home in last place.