Sports

World rowing championships: Carling Zeeman qualifies for Rio

Canadian rower Carling Zeeman continued her stellar season after securing a spot for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Zeeman advanced to the medal round of the world rowing championships with a third-place finish in the semifinals of the women’s single sculls Friday in Aiguebelette, France.

Pan Am Games gold medallist uses final surge to secure berth

Canadian rower Carling Zeeman secured a berth for next year’s Rio Olympics Friday in the women’s single sculls event at the world championships. (Katie Steenman/Rowing Canada)

Canadian rower Carling Zeeman continued her stellar season after securing a spot for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Zeeman, from Cambridge, Ont., advanced to the medal round of the world rowing championships with a third-place finish in the semifinals of the women's single sculls Friday in Aiguebelette, France.

Zeeman, 24, who captured gold in the single sculls and quadruple sculls at the recently completed Pan Am Games in Toronto, was in fifth place by the ¾ point of the race before making her move in the final frantic moments.

"I hit the panic button with 600 metres to go and gave it everything I had." said an exhausted Zeeman.

 "It's all pretty surreal right now, I don't think any of this has sunk in yet."

With an Olympic berth locked up, Zeeman said the pressure has eased off  for Sunday's final.

"I'm clearly the underdog," she said.  "So I want to put some pressure on the big names in this event and make them sweat a bit."

Canada has now qualified four boats for Rio.

On Thursday, the lightweight women's double sculls team of Patricia Obee and Lindsay Jennerich, both from Victoria, won its semifinal heat.

The women's pair of Toronto's Jennifer Martins and Cristy Nurse of Georgetown, Ont., crossed the line third in its semifinal heat to advance to the final and secure an Olympic berth.

The men's four team of Will Crothers (Kingston, Ont.), Tim Schrijver (Forest, Ont.), Kai Langerfeld (Parksville, B.C.) and Conlin McCabe (Brockville, Ont.) was third in their semifinal heat, and also earned a trip to Rio. 

This year's world championships, which continue through Sunday, represent the first chance for countries to qualify crews for next year's Olympics.

Countries can secure boats for Rio in the following ways:

  • Women's eight: Top-five finish
  • Men's quad sculls: Top-eight finish
  • Single sculls: Top-nine finish
  • All other events: Top-11 finish

​American Luczak wins 3rd career gold 

Grace Luczak earned a third career gold medal at the world rowing championships as the American women's four powered to victory.

Luczak won eights finals at the previous two worlds.

Her crew including Kristine O'Brien, Grace Latz, and Olympic bronze medalist Adrienne Martelli made a good start and was never threatened on Lake Aiguebelette. Britain took silver ahead of China.

"It's amazing to be world champion, I feel blessed and honored to train and race with my teammates," O'Brien said.

After gold medals in the men's coxed pair and lightweight pair, Britain moved to the top of the medal table ahead of Germany and Australia, with seven podium places.

In the lightweight pair final, Joel Cassells and Sam Scrimgeour accelerated at the 500-meter mark to beat local favorites Augustin Mouterde and Theophile Onfroy of France, with Germany ending third.

"I have had three really good pair partners this season but this takes the biscuit," Scrimgeour said.

British pair Matthew Tarrant and Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell, coxed by Henry Fieldman, led from the start to defeat Germany and Serbia.

Spurred on by their home crowd, Maxime de Montfaucon, Damien Piqueras, Pierre Houin and Morgan Maunoir took the lead with only three strokes left in the lightweight quadruple sculls final to head off Germany.

"It was a crazy race. I make the calls and I asked for more," Demontfaucon said. "To hear the crowd at home really helped us to win." The first of two days of Olympic class finals starts on Saturday.

With files from Rowing Canada and The Associated Press

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