Inverness members strike silver and bronze at the World Rowing Championships in France

posted by Roy Sinclair - 10 Sep 2015, 10:21 p.m.

At the World Rowing Championships held on Lac Aiguebelette in France from 30th August till 6th September, Inverness members Imogen Walsh wins Super Silver in lightweight women’s single sculls and Alan Sinclair and his crewmates Scott Durant, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes win Ballistic Bronze in men’s coxless fours

Day by day reports noted below have been extracted from GB Rowing press reports

Sunday 30th August

European Champion Imogen Walsh was leading as the race came up to halfway with Austria’s Stefanie Borzachinni two seconds behind and Germany also challenging. Only one could qualify for the semis and Walsh made sure by keeping her nose very firmly in front. For the second half she had clear-water over her rivals and now races a semi-final on Thursday morning. Judith Anlauf of Germany took second with the Austrian in third but both will race a repechage.

Walsh said: “It’s taken a bit of getting used to this water with so many boats about. In the lightweight single scull you feel every movement. “So that was a good race to get out the way. I made good progress at the training camps and I was keen to see if I could put it into practice here and I did”.

Thursday 3rd September

Imogen Walsh, the European Champion, was holding second through the early part of her lightweight single semi-final to America’s Kathleen Bertko. These two boats had put a good margin over the rest of the field.

The Inverness sculler began to eat up the water between her and the leader in the third quarter of the race but Bertko rebutted the attack. Behind them Germany and Lithunania were in third and fourth but so far back that the top two scullers could settle into a relaxed rhythm to the line. The win went to the USA in 7:42.87 to 7:44.96 for GB in second. Judith Anlauf of Germany was third.

Walsh said: “I felt I rowed better than in the heat, I felt comfortable today. I’m excited for tomorrow and have something more to give for the final. We will all up the game”.

Friday 4th September

European Champion Imogen Walsh was next up in the lightweight women’s single scull in which she held third in the opening phases behind the World U23 champion Zoe McBride and the American, Kathleen Bertko, who beat her in the semi-finals. Small measures separated the Inverness sculler from Fabiana Beltrame of Brazil through the third 500m until Walsh made her move. Not only did she scythe through the Brazilian but piled the pressure on the American who was holding second to McBride.

Laying down long and strong strokes, Walsh dug deep and pulled as though her life depended on it to move up and take silver in 7:33.99. Gold to NZ in 7:32.45, bronze to the USA.

Afterwards there was a degree if disappointment at silver for the woman whose winter’s training was disrupted by illness. “Truth be told, I wanted to win it. There were points in the winter when I wondered if I’d even be here. I think I did pretty well but it wasn’t the perfect row”.

Sunday 30th August

Scott Durant, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes are the newly-formed GB Rowing Team men’s four who, because they finished second to Italy this morning, will now have to race a repechage to reach the semi-finals here. The British quartet were in very close contention throughout the first half and looked as if they might close the gap on the Italians in the third quarter before the eventual winners spotted the danger and picked up the pace.

Tuesday 1st September

British hearts were tested as the open men’s four faced a last-chance repechage to progress at the World Championships and keep their World and Rio Games’ hopes alive. Perhaps the supporters should not have worried unduly as the boat won their repechage and now goes through to the semi-finals on Thursday.

The men’s four of Scott Durant, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes trailed Argentina in the first part of the race but came through to take the lead just before halfway, building a length over the field by 1500m. Behind them, the Spanish surged past Argentina. The British quartet stayed firmly in the driving seat to win in 5:54.95 with France, to the chagrin of the home crowd, missing out to Spain at the line.

Sinclair said: “We set out to win the repechage and a new focus was to develop the rhythm that we had at training camps but which was lacking in the heat. We felt we did that today and could enjoy the boat speed”.

Sir David Tanner, GB Rowing Team Performance Director said: “That was a good performance today and what we would expect of them”.

Thursday 3rd September

Scott Durant, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes were positioned safely in a qualifying place, having been second or third behind the leading Italians, at halfway in the men’s four semi.

With Olympic qualifying at stake for anyone who reached the final, the semi was going to be relentless. The four men from Lancaster, Inverness, Ashford and Henley on Thames respectively kept their heads and found the speed to overhaul Canada and take a qualifying place behind the winners Italy. Their efforts brought the additional reward of qualifying the boat for Rio.

GB Rowing Team men’s four coach Christian Felkel said: “I am very happy with that. These things are always very tough and to go out and take second today was a testament to the guys. It’s one of the best races they have done this season and don’t discount us going into the final. Every day counts here and everyone has a chance”.

Saturday 5th September

The 2015 men’s four was not selected until the final training camps due to injury and illness. Scott Durant, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes emerged from the mountain lake of Silvretta to take on the mantle of this historic boat for GB.
Durant and Sinclair were World silver medallists in 2014 in the coxed pair. Ransley was a gold medalist in the eight and Innes, a newcomer to the squad, had already won gold in the men’s eight. This, then, was an entirely different boat to the one which won gold for GB in Amsterdam in 2014.

Australia, fielding two 2013 World silver medalliists, and the Netherlands were the pre-race favourites. but there was all to play for. A good rhythm could see the GB crew onto the podium.

In the end they took a storming bronze behind Italy - popular and noisy winners - and were more than happy with the way they came up through the field and then held onto third place.

Sinclair summed up the pride in the boat when he said: “I am overwhelmed by how well our race went. To win would have, of course, been the dream but to come away with a medal with so many people doubting us is a really good feeling”.

Ransley said: “I am proud of this unit and the way it has developed race by race”.

2015 newcomer Innes added: “At the beginning of the year I don’t think anyone but me would have backed me to have been here and win a medal. Credit to Christian Felkel our coach for guiding us through all the stresses and strains. We could not have done it without him”.

Durant said: “I am very happy indeed. We had a great start at the European Championships. Since then it has not been the easiest of projects with lots of ups and downs. I always knew this boat was capable of winning a medal”.

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