|The USA's three-time World Champions came to Sydney favored to win the gold medal,even
though they did not race at Worlds, and no one really knew how they stacked up against the
World. Now it is almost certain the USA will be dethroned, as new favorites have sprung up
everywhere. Unless the USA miraculously finds the form and speed it used in the last three
Worlds, expect the gold and other medals to go to AUS, CRO and GBR. Interestingly, each of
these three new favorites has beaten the others on one or more occasions this summer. So
do not be surprised which of them comes out gold in Sydney. The other finalists are ITA
and ROM. For more detailed historical and statistical information on these six crews, go
to the main index page for this event and click your way through.
The prediction race
bulletin that follows this narrative is a mix of the split times these six crews recorded
in their preliminary heats with one exception. We believe GBR's first 500 meter time was
slower than GBR is capable of recording, based on its repechage performance against ITA.
For that reason we have taken 1 second off GBR's first 500 time, and adjusted GBR's
subsequent splits accordingly.
With this adjustment, AUS, CRO and GBR take gold, silver and bronze, all finiishing
within a quarter length of each other. USA and ROM have raced each other twice in Sydney,
and their splits are so similar down the course that they are like interchangeable parts
for different automobiles. Unless USA steps way up, USA is projected 4th place, and ROM
5th, with ITA 6th. ITA may cause both USA and ROM some trouble however, especially in the
3rd 500 meter interval, where both USA and ROM demonstrate vulnerability.
What follows is a look at the upcoming race from the perspective of each boat.
AUS should expect to trail in the early going (up to 1000 meters) and not panic. If
they fall back more than a half length on the leader, however, that could quickly dash
AUS' hopes for the gold, and AUS could find itself in a struggle for the Bronze, though
not likely. AUS must pull even with CRO before 500 to go, as CRO and AUS have almost
identical speed in the last 500. AUS and CRO should see some daylight over GBR (but not
much) with 500 to go.
CRO is a fast starter, likes to lead, get control, and play "catch me if you
can." The question is can CRO take the pressure as AUS first stops CRO's move in the
2nd 500, and then comes through CRO in the 3rd 500? CRO probably needs a three-quarter
length lead over AUS at the 1000 to pull out the gold.
Great Britain's Perspective
GBR has to make sure it does not have a bad first 500 meters, as it did in its heat.
GBR has won and lost this summer in races with both CRO and AUS. These crews know each
other well. GBR needs to repeat (and at the end improve upon) the race pattern it rowed
against ITA, when GBR won the repechage. GBR's first priority is to stay within immediate
striking distance of CRO and AUS all the way, standing ready to pounce, if one of them
wilts under the pressure. GBR must also solidify its minimum claim to the bronze medal, by
moving safely away from ROM, USA and ITA in the third 500 meter interval.
United States' Perspective
The USA has to forget its current troubles and regroup to its 1999 Worlds form, where
it came back on GBR to win in the final 500. The USA should be fine in the first 1000. It
is in the 3rd 500 where the USA has a problem. Its Achilles heel seems to be there, as
well as holding off crews at the end. These are both big problems. First, the USA needs to
figure out how to get themselves in good bronze medal position with 250 to go, and then
worry about the last 28 strokes to the finish line. One way may be to dog GBR for the
first 1000 without trying to be the leader. This could conserve much needed energy for an
assault on GBR in the 3rd 500, when GBR may already be seeing the leaders move away. That
may be USA's opportunity, since 2 crews in between them in lanes 3 and 4 could block good
views of each other. The real concern of USA must be to avoid 4th (or lower), a risk that
looms large. Going all out for the gold from the start may spell disaster. Stock the
shelves with Bronze first and pick off whatever else is available in the last few strokes.
Pretty much the same holds for ROM as for USA. Not more to say here.
Italy needs to row the race pattern it did in its repechage which got ITA to this
final. In that race (unlike its heat), ITA maintained contact with the leader all the way.
In its heat, it fell off pace in the 2nd 500 and never regained contact. ITA has a
definite opoportunity to move through both USA and ROM in the third 500, and have another
shot at GBR in the end.
Take a look at the color pre-play for this race to guage
the likely moves of these crews down the course.
LANE CREW RELATIVE POSITIONS ELAPSED SPLIT
1500* CREW TIME TIME
6 ROM <ROM CRO 1:20.80 1:20.80
5 GBR <GBR USA 1:21.22 1:21.22
4 CRO <CRO ITA 1:21.47 1:21.47
3 AUS <AUS ROM 1:21.72 1:21.72
2 USA <USA GBR 1:21.97 1:21.97
1 ITA <ITA AUS 1:22.25 1:22.25
6 ROM <ROM CRO 2:44.47 1:23.66
5 GBR <GBR USA 2:45.95 1:24.72
4 CRO <CRO AUS 2:46.19 1:23.94
3 AUS <AUS ROM 2:46.42 1:24.69
2 USA <USA GBR 2:46.47 1:24.50
1 ITA <ITA ITA 2:46.83 1:25.35
6 ROM <ROM AUS 4:09.47 1:23.27
5 GBR <GBR CRO 4:09.66 1:25.19
4 CRO <CRO GBR 4:10.07 1:23.60
3 AUS <AUS USA 4:11.66 1:25.70
2 USA <USA ROM 4:12.97 1:26.54
1 ITA <ITA ITA 4:13.27 1:26.44
6 ROM <ROM AUS 5:32.85 1:23.37
5 GBR <GBR CRO 5:33.33 1:23.67
4 CRO <CRO GBR 5:33.47 1:23.39
3 AUS <AUS USA 5:35.70 1:24.04
2 USA <USA ROM 5:36.92 1:23.95
1 ITA <ITA ITA 5:39.69 1:26.41