Canadians give strong showing at world rowing championships

A strong tailwind was again blowing down the course at Malta Lake in Poznan, Poland – causing havoc for some of the smaller boats at the 2009 World Rowing Championships. The final race of the day, however, proved to have a silver lining for Canada with the men’s eight taking a medal.

Germany won in 5:24.13, Canada clocked in at 5:27.15 and the Netherlands (5:28.32) crushed the Polish fans by beating the home country men’s eight for the bronze by just .08 of a second. Great Britain finished fifth in 5:32.61 and Italy was sixth in 5:43.58.

“I was very aware of Germany during the race, but I knew that the Dutch were making a push and Poland had made an impressive charge,” said coxswain Mark Laidlaw, who has coxed at the Under-23 and non-Olympic World level, but never the senior men’s eight. “It’s a natural progression for me and it’s pretty exciting.”

Only two members of this silver medal men’s eight – Malcolm Howard and Andrew Byrnes – were part of the men’s eight that won gold at the Olympics in Beijing last year.

“As a group, we had an excellent winter of training and we are happy to have produced a medal at the World Championship regatta,” said Steve VanKnotsenburg. “It’s a great start to the quadrennial and I’m excited to see how we can improve for 2010 in New Zealand (at the Worlds). We couldn’t have done it without the support of Own the Podium, Canadian Sport Centre Pacific and personally I’d like to thank Oakley, E-load, Skins, CAN fund. Of course, there are others who have supported us.”

The eight is Laidlaw of Mississauga, Derek O’Farrell of Unionville, Ont., James Dunaway of Duncan, B.C., Malcolm Howard of Victoria, B.C., Andrew Byrnes of Toronto, Doug Csima of Oakville, Gabe Bergen of 100 Mile House, B.C., Rob Gibson of Kingston, Ont., and VanKnotsenburg of Beamsville.

Medal hopefuls Doug Vandor of Dewittville, Que. and Cam Sylvester of Caledon, Ont. finished fifth in the lightweight men’s double – New Zealand won in 6:10.62, France was second in 6:12.57, and Italy finished third in 6:15.08. Germany (6:20.29) Canada (6:23.08) and Great Britain (6:23.95) rounded out the field.

Lindsay Jennerich of Victoria, B.C. and Sheryl Preston of North Delta, B.C. also had high hopes for their race, but finished.

In the first race of Sunday’s final, the men’s coxed pair finished fourth overall in 6:57.55. The U.S. won this race in 6:53.58 – followed by Czech Republic (6:54.58) and Germany (6:55.44) for silver and bronze.

Jan Tize of West Vancouver, B.C., Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont. and cox Mark Laidlaw, who later went on to win a silver in the men’s eight, had a fourth-place time of 6:57.55.
The lightweight women’s quad of Katya Herman of Sudbury, Kristin Jeffery of Newmarket, Lauren Wells of London, and Tanya Lahdenranta of Surrey, B.C. just missed out on a medal this morning. The crew maintained a tight third position until the last part of the race when they were edged out by the Americans. Germany won gold in 6:32.91, Great Britain was second in 6:35.42, the U.S. took bronze in 6:36.88 – Canada 6:37.36 and Poland 6:37.83 were right behind.

The women’s eight event was won by the perennially strong U.S. in a time of 6:05.34. Romania 6:06.94 and the Netherlands (6:07.43) took the other medals. Canada was sixth in 6:16.68.

The Canadian women’s eight is Sarah Bonikowsky of Orangeville, Ashley Brzozowicz of Toronto, Peggy DeVos of Kamloops, B.C., Larissa Lagzdins of Burlington, Romina Stefancic of Victoria, Jane Rumball of Fredericton, N.B., Krista Guloien of Port Moody, B.C., Lauren Hutchins of North Vancouver, and Lesley Thompson-Willie of London.

Canada had 10 crews at this World Championships.

The women’s four of Sandra Kisil of Ancaster, Sarah Waterfield of Kingston, Jennifer Tuters of Peterborough, and Emma Darling of Vancouver, B.C. rowed to a bronze medal.

Germany won the overall medal standings with a total of nine medals. Other highlights of this Worlds, can be found at: