Gold and Bronze for U.S. Crews at Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta
May 05, 2012
BELGRADE, Serbia – The U.S. trunk and arms mixed double sculls crew of Rob Jones (Lovettsville, Va.) and Oksana Masters (Buffalo, N.Y.) won gold to highlight racing at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Belgrade, Serbia. In addition, it was a finish that qualified them for the U.S. Paralympic Rowing Team, pending final approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
Racing in its first international competition, the crew won its race for lanes en route to dominating the competition in Saturday’s five-boat final.
“I am beyond excited," said Masters, 22. "I honestly don't remember the race. I remember the horn, and that's the only thing. But it went really well. I think we kept the lead for just about the entire race. I told Rob I wanted to win by at least a boat length, and I think we might have gotten that.”
The U.S. led from the start, holding off Brazil’s Isaac Ribeiro and Josiane Lima, a Beijing Paralympic bronze medalist and 2007 world champion. Jones and Masters gained a 4.5-second lead by the halfway mark, and continued to walk away from the field, posting a 4:11.29 to Brazil’s 4:18.19 at the line. Russia took home the bronze medal in 4:37.11.
“(From here), we are going to train hard and keep doing what we're doing – whether it's in the rain, waves, tsunami, blood, sweat and tears. I think if we keep our training going like it has been, we have an amazing shot at placing in the Paralympics.”
Jones, a 26-year-old U.S. Marine Sergeant who became a bilateral above knee amputee in July of 2010 while serving in Afghanistan, started training with Masters last summer. The duo raced at the Bayada Regatta in Philadelphia in August and at the Head of the Charles in Boston before winning the Non-Qualified Paralympic Trials by a 12-second margin in March.
Also in action Saturday, arms and shoulders women’s single sculler Dana Fink (Atlanta, Ga.) finished third for the bronze medal, just missing the qualifying Paralympic spot.
Canada’s Joan Reid led from the start to win gold in 6:03.37, followed by South Africa’s Sandra Khumalo in a 6:25.29. Fink walked through Hungary in the last 500 meters of the course to cross third with a time of 6:37.31.
The full U.S. Paralympic Rowing Team roster will be announced following the naming of the four with coxswain on June 11. The 2012 Paralympic Games in London are scheduled for August 31-September 2.
For complete regatta results, visit www.worldrowing.com.
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Allison Frederick, photo courtesy of Margaux Jackson