Greece took away one gold and two silver medals from the rowing World Championships in Poznan, Poland last weekend, continuing the Mediterranean country’s record of strong performances at major rowing meets.
Alexandra Tsiavou and Christina Giazitzidou took out the gold in the women’s lightweight double sculls, a tremendous achievement given their relatively short history together. Tsiavou, was ecstatic.
“We have been rowing together for only two or three weeks and when we arrived in Poznan we realised that there were possibilities for us because the races were going very well. Although the conditions are terrible, we did our best, I’m very proud and happy for us,” she said.
The pair usurped race favourites Great Britain’s Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking who were World Champions from the previous two Rowing World Cups.
With a quick pace, the Greek girls burst away from their starting position, leading Poland, Great Britain and Germany.
At the 750 metre mark Tsiavou and Giazitzidou were rowing at a rate of 41 strokes (the number of rowing strokes per minute).
The pair continued with their quick pace, powering through into an unassailable lead, and crossing the line well in front with a time of 6 minutes 51.46 seconds, more than five seconds ahead of Poland’s second placed crew Magdalena Kemnitz and Agnieszka Renc.
The two-time World Champions, British pair Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking could only manage third place.
Tsiavou said she was surprised at the result, telling Greek journalists, “I cannot say we expected it. We did dream of it, though. When we came here we realised that everything was possible.”
Giazitzidou, equally surprised, added, “I had never expected that to happen. We just wanted to reach the final and the gold medal came, so we are happy.”
Despite qualifying in first place in the men’s lightweight single sculls, Olympian Vassilis Polymeros took home the silver with a time of 6.52.33.
New Zealand’s Duncan Grant won the gold medal. Grant led at 500 meters, 1000 meters, 1500 meters and although Polymeros closed the gap in the final quarter of the race, the New Zealander managed to finish only 1.55 seconds ahead of Polymeros.
The twin brothers Nikos and Apostolis Goudoulas had given Greece its opening medal of the championships, as they finished third in the coxless pairs final, with a time of 6.23.01. The 2010 World Rowing Championships will be held at Lake Karapiro in New Zealand at the end of October, 2010.