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Nichols and Hedstrom Qualify for London
May 27, 2012
LUZERN, Switzerland – The U.S. lightweight women’s double sculls missed the podium at the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup on May 27 in Lucerne, Switzerland, but Julie Nichols (Livermore, Calif.) and Kristin Hedstrom (Concord, Mass.) couldn’t be happier with fourth place.
The finish was just what the crew needed in order to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, something it fell just short of accomplishing at the first world cup stop in Belgrade three weeks ago.
“We’re so excited,” said Nichols, an alternate at the 2008 Olympic Games and USRowing’s 2011 Female Athlete of the Year. “It is a dream for both or us. We’re looking forward to getting back to California and getting back to training and ramping up for the next race of the season.”
Nichols and Hedstrom won the lightweight double at National Selection Regatta II, then turned up a sixth-place finish at World Rowing Cup I. In order to keep the event from going back to trial in West Windsor, N.J., in June, Nichols and Hedstrom needed to best at least two crews in the Lucerne final.
Eleven crews entered the lightweight women’s event at the second World Cup stop, including all of the finalists from the 2011 World Rowing Championships. En route to Sunday’s final, Nichols and Hedstrom finished third in their heat and advanced with a second-place finish from the repechage.
Then in Sunday’s final, the U.S. crew was third off the line behind China’s Wenyi Huang and Dongxiang Xu and New Zealand’s Julia Edward and Louise Ayling. Defending world champions Alexandra Tsiavou and Christina Giazitzidou of Greece, who were in sixth place for much of the race, laid down the fastest 500-meter split in the last stretch to overtake the American crew and finish within 0.65 seconds of the leader for a bronze medal.
China won in a 7:04.14, with New Zealand second in 7:04.39 and Greece third in 7:04.79. The United States held off Great Britain’s Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking by just 0.09 seconds to grab the fourth-place slot.
“We had no idea it was that close,” said Nichols. “But we’ll take it.”
“Overall, the piece was great,” said Hedstrom. “We’ve been working hard since Belgrade on fine-tuning everything. I feel like the piece that we went out and did today was just what we had worked on, and we did a really good job of executing. That was the plan.”
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