Road To The Olympic Games

Olympics Summer

Lightning delays men's, women's eights at rowing regatta

The Canadian men's and women's eight rowing teams will have to wait to begin their quests for gold at the Beijing Games as the opening heats have been postponed at the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park due to a thunderstorm.

All Canadian lightweight crews advance

The Canadian men's and women's eight rowing teams will have to wait to begin their quests for gold at the Beijing Games as the opening heats have been postponed at the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park due to a thunderstorm.

Officials had hoped to resume competition later on Sunday in Beijing but due to the threat of lightning, it was decided that the heats would resume on Monday.

Canadian men's eight member Adam Kreek told the CBC that the decision requires some adjustment, but doesn't change the team's approach.

"You build yourself up to go and give a big output of energy and when you don't have that output of energy, at the end of the day there's still some energy moving throughout your system," said Kreek. "It'll take a while to come back down from that, but it should be fine tomorrow."

Kreek added that the team is expecting to lead off racing on Monday morning in Beijing, although officials had not confirmed that.

It's a minor but undoubtedly agonizing delay for the Canadian men's crew, who are seeking redemption after a crushing fifth-place finish at the 2004 Athens Games.

"I think we're ready and mentally tough," Kreek told the CBC of his crew, which hasn't lost a men's eight race in the past two years. "It feels like our crew has this bubble around us of just pure confidence in each other and what we've come out here to accomplish."

The national women's eight team is also looking to make a splash at the Olympics after a disappointing sixth-place finish at last year's world championships.

The crew rallied to win a last-chance qualifier this summer to get to the Beijing Games and will seek a return to the form that saw them win gold, silver and bronze at the Games held in Barcelona, Atlanta, and Sydney, respectively.

Three lightweight crews move on

The late rain didn't damper what was an otherwise successful day on the water for Canada as all three of the lightweight crews competing Sunday advanced to the semifinals at the Olympic rowing regatta.

In women's doubles, Melanie Kok of St. Catharines, Ont., and Tracy Cameron of Shubenacadie, N.S., finished second in their women's double heat. Kok and Cameron crossed the line in a time of six minutes 54.07 seconds to finish behind Germany, who won heat 2 in 6:51.96.

Kok is isn't putting much stock in the order of finish just yet.

"You never know what games people are playing," said Kok. "Not everyone races the heats like it's a final. I think lightweight women's rowing in particular is pretty unpredictable.

"You see a lot of different results across the year and a lot of times the people who are winning at the World Cups are not the ones who are winning at the world championships which tells you how deep the field is."

Doug Vandor of Dewittville, Que., and Cameron Sylvester of Caledon, Ont., also finished second in their men's double heat to move on. Vandor and Sylvester finished in a time of 6:17.58 in the third heat, while the Danes were first in 6:14.84.

The men's lightweight four of Mike Lewis and Iain Brambell of Victoria, Liam Parsons of Thunder Bay, Ont., and Jon Beare of Toronto also used a second-place finish to advance in a time of 5:52.13. Denmark won the heat by over two seconds in a time of 5:50.12. 

It was a solid result for the crew, which placed fourth at last year's world championships to secure Olympic qualification, but has struggled this season.

"We had an unfortunate World Cup this year," said Brambell, who helped the crew to a fourth-place showing at last year's world championships.

"We were just a little off of where we wanted to be but certainly today we've shown that we've done the work and we've always been ready to do this. It's just a matter of doing it at the right time."

Meanwhile, the Canadian women's quadruple sculls team of Rachelle de Jong of Regina, Anna-Marie de Zwager of Victoria, Janine Hanson of Winnipeg and Krista Guloien of Port Moody, B.C., finished third in its heat and will row in the repechage later in the week.

With files from the Canadian Press