It was a disappointing day for two Kingston athletes Saturday at the world rowing championships on Lac Aiguebelette, near Chambery, France.
Will Crothers was in the bow seat of Canada’s men’s four, which finished fourth in the championship final, 1.12 seconds behind the British crew that left the dock with the bronze medals.
Rob Gibson was the stroke in the Canadian men’s quadruple sculls crew that finished fifth. Racing in the B final, Canada needed a top-two finish to qualify the boat for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Matthew Buie, Julien Bahain, Will Dean and Gibson came out quickly, keeping pace with a Ukrainian crew that burst into the early lead. The Canadians couldn’t maintain that pace throughout, however, and they slipped in the final 500 metres.
“We knew we had a fast start and we tried to capitalize on that, but the pressure came in the second half and we were not able to respond,” said Gibson, a silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics.
“There is no room for mistakes in this event. The field is just too tight.”
Canada finished the race in 5 minutes 49.94 seconds, virtually the same time Gibson et al posted in Thursday’s semifinal. A Polish crew that finished last in its semifinal—behind Canada—won Saturday’s race.
A double medalist at the recent Pan American Games, Gibson was clearly disappointed.
“We had high expectations coming to France,” he said. “To be honest, I am sort of stunned right now. I know we have what it takes to win a medal in Rio. We will have to book our tickets to the Games at the qualifier next year.”
Though it was an improvement over Canada’s fifth-place finish at last year’s world championship, being off the podium was a disappointment for Crothers’ crew, which also included Tim Schrijver, Kai Langerfeld and Conlin McCabe.
In third place for the majority of the race, the Canadians faded in the final quarter.
“It’s frustrating,” said Langerfeld. “This wasn’t our best race. It felt like we were fighting each other a bit out there. We weren’t responding as a unit to Will’s calls.”
Canada completed the race in 5:50.12, its best time of the regatta, after finishing third in the semifinal in 5:54.03 and winning its heat in 5:53.91.
Italy won the race, with a two-second margin of victory over Australia and a time, 5:46.78, that was just 3.34 seconds better than the Canadians, who had already clinched a berth in next summer’s Olympic regatta.
“We have to remember that the goal is Rio and that remains our focus,” Langerfeld said. “The crew is moving in the right direction and we are looking forward to finding those extra seconds in the next 12 months.”
On the final day of the week-long regatta Sunday, coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie of Napanee will lead the Canadian women’s eight in its quest for a gold medal and Nicolas Pratt of Kingston will be in the boat as Canada tries to secure an Olympic berth in the B final of the men’s lightweight four.