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September 22, 2000

A pair of fourths for Canadian rowers 

CBC SPORTS ONLINE - It was a day of not-quite-good-enough for a pair of Canadian boats at the Olympic rowing regatta on Saturday.

Victoria's Derek Porter was hoping to improve on his silver medal in singles sculls from four years ago, but didn't even reach the podium in Sydney, while the world champion women's coxless pairs boat of Emma Robinson and Theresa Luke also finished out of the medals.

Porter was edged out by 27-hundredths of a second for bronze by Germany's Marcel Hacker. Rob Waddell of New Zealand, the pre-race favourite, went out hard and kicked it into high gear in the last 500-metres to capture gold. Xeno Mueller of Switzerland, the defending Olympic champion, won the silver.

Porter also won gold as member of the Canadian men's eights boat in 1992. The 32-year-old chiropractor looked strong in his heats throughout the week, but in the final stages of Saturday's final, he couldn't keep the pace.

"I cranked it up with 500 to go, and that's what I wanted to do, and I went through a wall and felt no pain," Porter said after the race. "But my times were great. I couldn't have done much more, you know? I think I had a really solid and race and just (got) beaten by better scullers today."

The overall disappointment for the Canadian rowers over the past week at Penrith Lake seemed to weigh on Porter in his post-race comments.

"There was a lot of people behind me. And that why I'm probably more disappointed for them as for me. I have a lot of great friends in Canada. And my sponsors and everything that have been behind me the whole way."

"And, you know, I'm sorry for that," added Porter, his voice choked with emotion."

Porter also suggested that this may mark the end of his rowing career.

In the women's coxless pairs, world champion Emma Robinson and Theresa Luke placed a disappointing fourth.

The gold went to Romania, silver to Australia with the bronze going to the U.S. boat, which jumped out to an early lead before fading in the last 1000m, although they had enough to hold off Robinson and Luke.

Robinson and Luke were favourites in the event going into the Games, along with the Romanian and Australian boats, but they've had difficulty in 2000 repeating their phenomenal success of their undefeated season in 1999.

"I knew from the races in Europe that there were boats that were faster than us," said Robinson after the race. "I could delude myself and see myself always coming first. And I look at a good race. I think the result for me is disappointing because I thought we could do better. But in the boat with Theresa, we rowed well."

Robinson and Luke still have one last shot at a medal. They will row with the Canadian women in the eights final on Sunday. If that boat fails to win a medal, the rowing regatta will shape up as one of Canada's biggest disappointments of the Sydney Games. The Canadians produced six medals in rowing alone at the Atlanta Games Olympics

In contrast to the stumbling fortunes of Canadian athletes, the French continued to enjoy a highly successful Olympics, this time winning the gold in the men's coxless pairs. The U.S. and Australia won silver and bronze, respectively.

But the biggest story coming out of Penrith Lake on Saturday was the fifth gold medal for British rowing legend Steve Redgrave, who rowed in these Olympics with the victorious men's coxless fours boat. Redgrave won with the coxed fours in 1984 in Los Angeles and put together three straight Olympic wins in the men's coxless pairs in 1988, 1992 and 1996. Italy won the silver with the bronze going to Australia, which has been having a remarkable regatta.

In an earlier race, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus defended her gold medal in women's single sculls from Atlanta, but just barely. After a lengthy delay in which race officials reviewed the photo finish, Karsten was awarded the victory by just 1/100th of a second in the closest Olympic rowing final in memory. Rumyana Neykova of Bulgaria was an heartbreakingly close second, while Germany's Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski came in third for the bronze.

Rounding out the day's rowing action, Germany won the women's doubles sculls gold medal with silver going to the Netherlands and the bronze to Lithuania. And the Slovenian boat won the gold in men's doubles sculls, followed by Norway and Italy.


reprinted with permission

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