Canadian crews stay in running for rowing medals

Canada jumped through a couple more hurdles today at the 2009 World Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland to advance two more crews in Olympic boat-class events.

The lightweight men’s four got the job done in today’s repechage, coming second – Switzerland took the rep in 6:02.59 and Canada secured the next qualifying spot (top two advance to semifinal) in a close 6:02.72.

“We stepped it up today and we need to step it up again for the next race,” said Mike Lewis, a bronze medalist in the lightweight men’s four at the Olympic Games in 2008. “I think we’re in the hunt and we haven’t shown our fastest speed yet.”

The crew is Lewis of Victoria, B.C., Terry McKall of Edmonton, Atla., John Sasi of Delta, B.C. and Tim Myers of Penticton, B.C. Lightweight men must weigh in at a maximum of 72.5kg with a crew average of 70kg.

The women’s eight finished fourth in its rep to qualify for Sunday’s final. The crew had to make the top four in this race to move forward.

“We didn’t have our best start, but that gives us an area to focus on and improve,” said Burlington’s Larissa Lagzdins, who is a newcomer to the senior National Team this year. “We had the fastest second 500 metres (of 2000) of all crews so we know we have the potential. If anything, having to row in the rep has been beneficial because we get better with each race.”

“They were slow off the start, but got it together and had good speed in the middle part of the race,” said their coach, Carsten Hassing.

In addition to Lagzdins, the eight is Sarah Bonikowsky of Orangeville, Ont., Ashley Brzozowicz of Toronto, Peggy DeVos of Kamloops, B.C., Romina Stefancic of Victoria, Jane Rumball of Fredericton, N.B., Krista Guloien of Port Moody, B.C., Lauren Hutchins of North Vancouver, B.C. and Lesley Thompson-Willie of London, Ont.

Five of the women were in the 2008 Olympic eight that finished fourth in a heartbreaker of a race in Beijing.

In what is termed a “race for lanes”, Canada’s lightweight women’s quad finished second and will race again for a chance at a medal.

Great Britain won this race in 6:35.94, Canada came in at 6:38.25, followed by Germany in 6:38.29, Poland in 6:40.62, and the U.S. in 6:40.78. These same crews will line up for the final on Sunday. Lightweight female rowers must not be more than 59kg with a crew average of 57kg.

The regatta continues through Sunday.