Ireland’s lightweight double of Sam Lynch and Gearóid Towey were shackled into fourth in the Olympic B final at Schinias this morning, as their first Olympics as a partnership ended in disappointment.
A tenth place finish overall will be little consolation to the Munster duo, who were edged out for the minor placings by the Czech Republic, Spain and race winners, the United States – ironically three crews which the Irish had defeated between last Sunday’s heat and Thursday’s semi-final.
Steve Tucker and stroke Greg Ruckman grabbed first, and seventh overall, with a trademark high-rate finish, moving from fifth after 500 metres (1:42.15), to head the six-boat field in 6:45.20.
Lynch and Towey made a solid start in 1:39.83, eight-tenths of a second behind the Spaniards at 500. But closing splits of 1:43.60 and 1:43.07 told their own story as last year’s World Championship bronze medallists slipped to fourth, and a time of 6:49.26.
Leonardo Pettinari, the dominant force in lightweight doubles since 2001 and gold medallist in that race twelve months ago, was forced to cry off the Italian boat with a rib injury and his replacement Nicola Moriconi, and regular bow Elia Luini struggled in sixth (7:01.86).
Meanwhile Ireland’s lightweight four completed their preparations for tomorrow morning’s A final (7.10am, Irish time) with short speed work on Schinias’ flat water. “We’ve tried to tweak and adjust a few things to see if we can find the extra three or four seconds that get them a podium finish,” said Irish manager Richard Parr.
“I don’t think any of the crews can let the others get too far out in the final. We will have to be in it somewhere at the beginning. We don’t have to lead it, but need to be in touch.”
Richard Archibald, Eugene Coakley, Niall O’Toole and stroke Paul Griffin clocked their fastest time of the week, 5:58.89 to finish third in Thursday’s semi-finals and hand themselves Ireland’s best chance of a rowing medal since Atlanta 1996.
Ireland will have a slight interest in the doubles final as UCD’s John Holland coaches Greek duo Vasileios Polymeros and Nikolaos Skiathitis, the lane five occupants.
MEN’S LIGHTWEIGHT DOUBLE SCULLS B FINAL (Places 7-12) –
(1) USA (Steve Tucker, Greg Ruckman) 6:45.20, (2) Spain (Ruben Alvarez Hoyos, Juan Zunzunegiu Guimerans) 6:46.48, (3) Czech Republic (Vaclav Malecek, Michal Vabrousek) 6:46.77, (4) Ireland (Sam Lynch, Gearoid Towey) 6:49.26, (5) Slovakia (Lubos Podstupka, Lukas Babac) 6:58.78, (6) Italy (Elia Luini, Nicola Moriconi) 7:01.86