Sanita Puspure – “It was do or die” at World Rowing Cup III

The third World Rowing Cup in Lucerne produced some of the most exciting racing seen for a while. The highlight for GB being the incredible fightback by the M4x stroked by Tom Barras to take gold after a disastrous opening heat.

In the men’s single the decision as to who would represent New Zealand at the World Championships in Plovdiv was settled decisively. Robbie Manson put in an amazing performance to beat Mahe Drysdale by nearly 7 seconds. In an incredible race, Manson made steady progress from behind to scull through the field leaving Ondrej Synek, who led for most of the race to settle for third.

The young German pretender, Oliver Zeidler, who only switched to rowing from swimming 18 months ago, put in another strong performance to take silver. This will no doubt settle the German men’s single selection for Plovdiv – teammate Tim Ole Naske came last in the final some 12 seconds behind Zeidler.

The women’s heavyweight single produced the closest race of the day with Jeannine Gmelin hanging onto her lead by just 0.23 seconds from Ireland’s Sanita Puspure. Puspure blasted off the start and sat between second and third place for most of the race. At 100m to go Puspure was a length down on Gmelin in joint second with Canadian, Carling Zeeman with Kara Kohler half a length down on them. Puspure put in a herculean effort coming up to the line to take silver – given one more stroke she would almost certainly have won the race.

“The second 500 I could have gone a little faster but it was what it was.” Puspure told WEROW as she waited for her flight home. “I was keeping an eye on Kohler, she was gaining after 1,000m and I didn’t feel very fresh and so I thought “just hang in there!” Then the last half I just started building it up and the last 250 was power strokes. It was do or die.”

Sanita Puspure collects silver at the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne

Sanita Puspure with Jeannine Gmelin and Carling Zeeman on the podium at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne

With 100 meters to go and one length down, Puspure had to dg deep. “It was more that I was running away from Kohler and Zeeman because I knew I didn’t want to get caught in the crossfire. And then I saw that I was gaining on Jeannine as well and the last 10 or 20 strokes was just go, anything can happen now.”

Puspure, who is married with two young children, heads home to continue her training at the National Rowing Centre in Cork. “I am going to weigh up all my options, whether I stick with my training group and go through the program with them or will I handle just a little bit more disruption and go to the Europeans? I need to sleep on it.”

On the strength of this race, reigning World Champions Jeannine Gmelin doesn’t look as invincible as she did, her previous World Cup wins secured with a large margin of comfort. However she did race three times at Henley last week in the searing heat, beating Australian Madeleine Edmunds with ease in the final, so this may have been a factor today.

For GB there will have been relief that the quad finally came through with the win they so much deserved. Tom Barras, a new addition to the line up looked utterly spent at the end of the race but the crew looked on impressive form. In the M4- Harry Glenister, George Rossiter, Rob Hurn and Sholto Carnegie held off the Germans and were rewarded with a fourth place.

GB Results

Men’s pair B final
1. Alexander Sigurbjonsson & Pau Vela Maggi (ESP2) 6:40.42
2. Karlo Udovicic & Valent Sinkovic (CRO1) 6:41.66
3. Mark O’Donovan & Shane O’Driscoll (IRL1) 6:43.27

4. Callum McBrierty & Morgan Hellen (GBR2) 6:43.70

Lightweight men’s double sculls B final
1. Jonathan Rommelmann & Konstantin Steinhuebel (GER) 6:23.75
2. Jiri Simanek & Miroslav Vrastil Jr (CZE) 6:25.46
3. Pierre Houin & Thomas Baroukh (FRA1) 6:26.58

4. Jamie Copus & Zak Lee-Green (GBR) 6:27.91

Men’s pair A final
1. Thomas Murray & Michael Brake (NZL1) 6:32.93
2. Valentin Onfroy & Theophile Onfroy (FRA1) 6:33.58
3. Lukas Helesic & Jakub Podrazil (CZE) 6:33.64

5. Matt Rossiter & Oliver Cook (GBR1) 6:42.77

Men’s four A final
1. Australia 5:51.40
2. Netherlands 5:55.14
3. South Africa 5:58.52

4. Great Britain (Harry Glenister, George Rossiter, Rob Hurn & Sholto Carnegie) 6:00.71

Men’s quad A final
1. Great Britain (Tom Barras, Jonny Walton, Graeme Thomas & John Collins) 5:44.25
2. Netherlands 5:44.99
3. Poland 5:45.33