The independent voice of rowing in Britain

Welcome back Ekaterina (W1x final Munich)

Posted by rowingvoice on June 21, 2012

We’ve been missing Ekaterina Karsten during the last two regattas.  But the 40-year-old grand dame of sculling was back, and back with a vengeance, using her traditional race format to win her 38th senior gold and 29th world cup final of her career.

The race leader was, rather dramatically, Fie Udby Erichsen from Denmark, a startling new addition to the top table from the Lucerne qualification regatta.  Karsten wasn’t going to let her get away, though, and though sculling a bit more gingerly than before her recent rib injury, leant on the Dane from 800m to go, and soon romped into an unassailable lead.

As Erichsen dropped like a lead balloon, New Zealand’s  Emma Twigg took advantage of a lot of other missing scullers to claim silver.  There are so many quality oarswomen to come into this event that it was a shadow of its true self, but now the hunt is on:  can Karsten celebrate 20 years since her first Olympic medal with another one at her sixth Games?

Rachel Quarrell 

Gold Ekaterina Karsten (BLR), silver Emma Twigg (NZL), bronze Donata Vistartaite (LTU); DEN, AZE, IRL.


2 Responses to “Welcome back Ekaterina (W1x final Munich)”

  1. François said

    How would you explain the very poor result from Karsten at Eton? We know she’s quality, and she has shown she was always a force to be reckoned with, even when she stopped to have babies or suffered injuries. In 2009 she didn’t even enter the World Cups, kept her powder dry in the heats and semi and it was only until the last 500 that she showed what she was made of. I cannot believe how much she gave away at the beginning of the race, along with Emma Twigg. The cross wind affected a lot of races on that day (I was there), how much do you think it affected the singles?

  2. I’m pretty sure Karsten’s Olympic results were entirely down to the rib injury she had in April 2012, and admitted to interviewers at a press day at Eton just before the Olympics, had not yet fully healed. That’s why she missed the first two world cups of this year, and though she won in Munich it wasn’t pain-free and she didn’t have a whole field to contend with so wasn’t under as much pressure.

    She said a couple of days before the Olympic regatta started that it still hurt in training, and during the racing it looked as if she was only doing what she needed, to save as much as possible for the final. Yes, the cross-wind affected everyone, and of course after a cautious semi she was in a poor lane. But that’s the point of changing lanes to echelon: since it is going to be unfair when cross, at least when redrawn the wind situation penalises least those who have put in the best results so far. Others, whether through ability or choice, ‘earned’ a better lane in the final than Karsten and profited from it. If she did save herself in the semi then she took a risk on a course well known for cross-wind, and knew the possible consequences.

    Karsten still made the Olympic final with a difficult injury at the age of 40, when you recover from injuries much less quickly than you do in your twenties. And didn’t come last – that’s quality. The 2009 gap was also due to injury: if I recall right a serious back problem which left us wondering if she would even turn up at the worlds. She certainly did the least possible that year to win. I suspect previous back trouble will not have made this year’s rib issue any easier. Like you I thought she might be game-playing when I first saw her taking it easy, but I now think the toll of time on her body means she can’t always produce her best on the day, even if she wants to. “Can my body do it?” is a question all non-retiring older athletes have to ask before they commit to carrying on. Karsten seems to say “don’t know, but I’m going to try anyway”. She’s indefatigable – I don’t even have a clue if she will retire this time or carry on to one more Games.

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