Kohler, Women’s Eight Win Bronze at the 2019 World Rowing Championships

Women’s single sculler Kara Kohler (Clayton, Calif.) and the women’s eight won bronze medals on Sunday to highlight the final day of racing for the U.S. at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria. In addition, the men’s eight and PR1 men’s single sculls qualified boats for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, respectively.

In total, the U.S. qualified eight boats for the Olympic Games and all four boats for the Paralympic Games, while winning six medals to finish in a tie for fourth in total medals.

In the women’s single sculls, New Zealand’s Emma Twigg took the early lead ahead of defending world champion Sanita Puspure of Ireland, Great Britain’s Victoria Thornley and Kohler. The American moved into bronze-medal position during the second quarter of the race, passing Thornley as the scullers approached the 1,000-meter mark. Twigg continued to lead Puspure through the third 500, but the Irish sculler was beginning to close the margin. At the same time, Kohler was extending her advantage over Thornley to take command of third place. In the final 500 meters, Puspure pulled away from Twigg to win by more than three seconds. Puspure finished in a 7:17.14, with Twigg crossing 3.42 seconds later in a 7:20.56. Kohler won the bronze medal in a 7:22.21.

“I’m happy to finish off my season on the podium for the first time in the single,” Kohler said. “First half (of the race), Emma shot out — couldn’t even see her. I felt Sanita on me, so that was hopeful for me. As long as I can stay in touch with Sanita, I should be in a good position. It’s pure relief and confirmation that the training I am doing with Laurel (Korholz) and Tom (Terhaar) and the training center group is working so far, and I only look forward to what I can build off of this year.

“Last year was my first season in the single. I had a good world championships, and I made the A final. That was my main goal. Ended up in fourth place, so I was pretty happy about that but I’m definitely hungry for more and knew I had more speed to work on over the year.”

The U.S. women’s eight of coxswain Katelin Guregian (Detroit, Mich.), Erin Reelick (Brookfield, Conn.), Gia Doonan (Rochester, Mass.), Emily Regan (Buffalo, N.Y.), Olivia Coffey (Watkins Glen, N.Y.), Dana Moffat (Manlius, N.Y.), Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y.), Kristine O’Brien (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) and Felice Mueller (Cleveland, Ohio) won the bronze medal on Sunday, qualifying the boat for the 2020 Olympic Games in the process. Australia took the early lead, with Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand sitting a few seats behind. During the second quarter of the race, Australia began to pull away from the U.S. and Canada with New Zealand moving into second position. The Aussies and Kiwis continued to extend their lead on the rest of the field as the crews hit the 1,500-meter mark. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Canada were fighting it out for the bronze medal. In the sprint, New Zealand was able to row through the Australians to win gold in a 5:56.91. Australia took silver in a 5:59.63, with the U.S. winning bronze by just over a second with a time of 6:01.93.

“I’m really proud of our race,” Regan said. “We raced really hard, and we stayed in our boat and did the best we could do today, so you can’t be upset with racing your hardest. We were expecting it to be really close, and it was for the first 1,000. Our goal was to stay in our boat, and if someone got up on us, to try to fight back the best we could. Today, we weren’t really able to keep up with New Zealand and Australia, but we’ll keep fighting.”

“It’s a really fast field, and we fought until the end, so I think we’re all really proud of how we raced,” Doonan said. “It’s great to medal. It’s qualification year, so I think everyone is willing to do whatever it takes to get there. This regatta, there were a lot of really tight races and a lot of gutsy races.”

In an extremely tight race throughout, the women’s double sculls crew of Gevvie Stone (Newton, Mass.) and Cicely Madden (Weston, Mass.) missed a medal by 0.64 seconds, finishing fifth. The U.S. got off the line in third position, but rowed through The Netherlands and Canada in the second 500 meters to take a half-length lead on the Canadian boat at the midway point of the race. New Zealand’s Olivia Loe and Brooke Donoghue, who sat in third at the 1,000-meter mark, began to pick up their rating in the third 500 meters, overtaking Canada and then moving past the U.S. boat as the crews reached the final quarter of the race. The U.S. still held second by about one length ahead of the Dutch boat, Canada and a fast-charging Romania. In the final sprint, Romania continued to close the gap, moving up from fifth into the silver-medal position. The Netherlands took third in the final five strokes, with Canada and the U.S. finishing 0.01 seconds apart for fourth. New Zealand won the gold medal in a 6:47.17. Romania won silver in a 6:48.55, with The Netherlands claiming the bronze medal in a 6:49.22. The U.S. finished in a 6:49.86.

The men’s eight of coxswain Julian Venonsky (Malvern, Pa.), Austin Hack (Old Lyme, Conn.), Ben Davison (Inverness, Fla.), Mike DiSanto (Boston, Mass.), Alexander Richards (Watertown, Mass.), Nick Mead (Strafford, Pa.), Conor Harrity (Weston, Mass.), Patrick Eble (Fort Washington, Pa.) and Alex Karwoski (Moultonborough, N.H.) finished fifth in the final, earning an Olympic qualification spot. Germany took a slight lead on Australia at the 500-meter mark, with Great Britain, The Netherlands and the U.S. just off the pace. The Germans and Dutch then started to separate from the rest of the field, while Great Britain and Australia began to push ahead of the U.S. and New Zealand. Over the final 1,000 meters, three battles were taking place. Germany and The Netherlands continued to duke it out for the gold medal, a couple of seconds up on the chase for the bronze medal between Great Britain and Australia, while the race for the final Olympic qualification spot was taking place between the U.S. and New Zealand. At the line, Germany held on for the gold medal, crossing in a 5:19.41 to finished 0.55 seconds ahead of the Dutch boat. Great Britain won the bronze medal by 0.53 seconds over Australia in a 5:22.35, while the U.S. finished in a 5:23.92, 0.55 seconds ahead of New Zealand.

In the final of the PR1 women’s single sculls, Hallie Smith (Washington, D.C.) finished sixth. Smith got off the line quickly but had dropped back to sixth as the scullers hit the 500-meter mark. Defending world champion Birgit Skarstein took the early lead on the field, with France’s Nathalie Benoit settling into second position and Israel’s Moran Samuel holding third. The three leaders continued to move away from the remainder of the field. Skarstein finished with a time of 10:18.82 to take the gold medal, while Benoit took the silver medal in a 10:24.07. Samuel finished another six seconds back in bronze-medal position. Smith crossed the line with a time of 11:12.92.

In the B final of the PR1 men’s single sculls, Blake Haxton (Columbus, Ohio) rowed through China’s Jie Yang in the third 500 meters to take the lead and then cruised to an 18-second victory to finish seventh overall and qualify the boat for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. Yang got off the line quickly, with Haxton in second, and had built a four-second advantage at the halfway point of the race. However, Yang was beginning to falter as Haxton was picking up speed. In the next 300 meters, the American turned a length deficit into a lead and with 500 to go, Haxton had open water on Yang. He continued to pull away from the field over the final quarter of the race. At the line, Haxton crossed in a 10:06.33, with Poland’s Jaroslaw Kailing taking second in a 10:24.62. Yang dropped to third.

“I’m just relieved, I guess, more than anything,” Haxton said of winning the B final and qualifying the boat. “China’s had a great regatta. We don’t really see the Chinese until the qualifying year. You know they are going to be strong, but you never really know what to expect. They’ve had a great regatta all week, and I feel like we were able to get better every race, which is really all you can ask for in these things.

“I knew it was going to be tight. I didn’t feel like I rowed the middle thousand very well all week. That was the goal for the final, just row the best I can, stay in my lane. The third 500, the field kind of tightened up. I felt China get away from me in the first thousand and then things came back and tightened up. I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can put on a little move here, and if I can, maybe get through him, get out of eyesight and get to the line.’ And, that’s how it went. (I’m) very happy with it.”

Men’s single sculler Kevin Meador (Berkeley, Calif.) finished third in the D final for 21st place overall. Switzerland’s Nico Stahlberg took the lead off the start, with Turkey’s Onat Kazakli in second. Meador sat in fourth position behind Sweden’s Anders Backeus. Stahlberg continued to lead during the second quarter of the race, with Kazakli cutting the margin slightly. However, Stahlberg was able to move out on the Turkish sculler a bit in the third 500 meters. Across the line. Stahlberg won with a time of 6:58.35. Kazakli took second, with Meador passing Backeus in the final 250 meters to finish third in a 7:04.29.

The 2019 World Rowing Championships featured nearly 1,200 athletes from 80 nations including the largest number of para-rowers ever. The championships were the initial step in the selection process for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as they served as the first opportunity for countries to qualify their boats (not individual athletes) for 2020. Click here for more information on FISA’s Olympic qualification process. Click here for more information on FISA’s Paralympic qualification process.

Follow USRowing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for full coverage of the U.S. team competing at the 2019 World Rowing Championships. Use the hashtags #WRChamps and #WRC2019. Download photos courtesy of USRowing for free by clicking here.

World Rowing has partnered with NBC Sports Group for coverage of the World Rowing Cups, European Championships and World Championships in the U.S. The Olympic Channel television network broadcast all eight days of racing and streamed all eight days live on either the Olympic Channel or NBCSN via authentication. Click here for complete broadcast, including re-broadcasts, and streaming information.

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