“We literally just had the trials on home water, and it’s really just been an intense, hard block of training all the way through since January to get the best preparation for the summer.”
In the first international race of the year, over 70 rowers from 17 countries will meet in Italy for the 2012 Gavirate International Adaptive Regatta this weekend (28-29 April).
It will be their penultimate chance to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, their final chance coming one week later in the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup in Belgrade, Serbia from 3-5 May.
Many of the crews have already met Paralympic qualification criteria, but Brazil and Italy will be hoping to make those times in the Legs Trunks and Arms Mixed Coxed Four (LTA Mix 4+) and the Netherlands is attempting to qualify in the Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Sculls (TAMix2x).
Australia’s John Maclean is also hoping to qualify in the men’s Trunk and Arms Single Sculls (TAM1x).
Great Britain’s team, the current LTA Mix 4+ world champions were up at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday (26 April) to fly to Italy.
“Sooo early, YAWN! In a taxi to T5 & heading off to our first race of the season! GET ME TO THAT START LINE!” tweeted Naomi Riches early Thursday.
Her team also consists of Pamela Relph, David Smith, James Roe and coxswain Lily van den Broecke.
The British LTAMix4+ team will likely face its toughest competition from Germany, which came third at last year’s World Championships.
Brazil’s team (Norma Balzacchi, Nilton Silva, Andre Dutra, Regiane Silva and coxswain Mauricio Carlos), as well as Italy’s team (Mahila di Battista, Florinda Tormbetta, Pierre Calderoni, Andrea Marcaccini and coxswain Alessandro Franzetti) will aim to paddle themselves to a London Paralympic qualification spot.
Tom Aggar, Paralympic gold medallist in men’s singles sculls (ASM1x), will also compete and is expected to dominate his race. He will stay on with the British team after the competition to “piggyback” a training camp onto the end of the event.
“We literally just had the trials on home water, and it’s really just been an intense, hard block of training all the way through since January to get the best preparation for the summer,” he said, shortly after returning from a seven-day hand-cycling camp in New York to get away from the waters.
In the women’s singles sculls (ASW1x), France’s Nathalie Benoit, who came second at last year’s World Championships, is the favourite, with Brazil’s Claudia Santos and Poland’s Martyna Snopek likely to push her hardest on the water.
In the TAMix2x, France’s Perle Bouge and Stéphane Tardieu, who set the fastest time for the event two years ago in New Zealand with a mark of 4:03.89, are tipped for the podium. But Australia, Ukraine, Italy and Great Britain all field top teams. The Dutch team of Daniele Stefanoni and Sivia de Maria hopes to also qualify for London in the event.
Adaptive Rowing is open to male and female athletes, and is divided into four boat classes: LTA4+, TA2x, AW1x and AM1x.The LTA4+ and TA2x are mixed gender boats. Races are held over 1,000m in all four events.