Olympics Summer

Men's Lightweight Coxless Four

Who to look out for in the men's lightweight coxless four

Country China
Credentials China was the world champion in 2006, but had a disappointing 5th place finish last year.  However, this year they're unbeaten, and their crew has emerged as a definite medal hope in Beijing. CBC analyst Barney Williams said. "They beat a world class field at the Lucerne world cup. They look to be favourites in front of their home crowd,"  said.

Country Great Britain 
Credentials Great Britain is the defending world champion. "This crew has had an incredible rise up the ranks, but this season has seen some very inconsistent results, culminating with a 6th place finish at the final world cup," said Williams.

Country Denmark
Credentials As defending Olympic champions, this crew has nearly climbed their way back to the top of the podium again. A poor race last year at the world championships resulted in a 6th place finish, but Williams said this season they have been the most consistent boat, always placing in the top 4.

Country France 
Credentials By winning the final world cup, the French served notice that they will be a factor in the final in Beijing, Williams said. This follows a strong silver medal performance at last year's world championships.  

On a roll

"France has really come on this season with improving performances in each race. While China only raced once, they proved they are on track as well," Williams said.

On a slide

As defending world champions, Great Britain showed little form in their final two races of the season, Williams said. "They head to Beijing with more questions than answers surrounding their prospects for a medal," he said.

X-factor

"Simply put, the Italians could finish anywhere from 1st through 8th depending on the day," Williams said. "They have reached the podium at the Olympics and world championships but have also failed to make the final during the world cup season this year."

Under the radar

"Australia, Ireland and Germany fall into this category," Williams said. He noted that all three crews have reached finals in the past few years, and once a team reaches the final in this event, "it's so close that anyone can reach the podium with a perfect race."

The Canadians

Canada made a successful showing at last year's world championships, placing 4th and securing Olympic qualification. "The crew is intact but has struggled this season through injury and the illness of their coach. They will need to have a great race to make the final," Williams said.

The lowdown

This will likely be one of the closest finals in Beijing with as many as eight boats capable of reaching the podium, Williams said.

He predicts the race to unfold as follows:

"If China has continued to improve from early season performances they will likely lead out of the gates with a strong challenge from Italy and Denmark. Through the middle of the race the French will look to move into the leading pack and bring Great Britain with them. With 500 meters to go, it is possible that there will be no more than a length between all crews, with the Danes and the Chinese at the head of the field. The final sprint could see Italy return to the front and Great Britain make a final push for the podium.  France, China and Denmark should edge out Italy and Great Britain for the medals."

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