Competition Steps Up at Paralympic Rowing Event

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London, UK (ISN) – Racing continued today at the 2012 Paralympic regatta near Windsor, England (Eton-Dorney) – exciting the crowds as competition gets even more fierce leading up to the finals tomorrow.

Single sculler Joan Reid of Enderby, B.C. is now Canada’s only hope for a Paralympic rowing medal after finishing a solid second today in her repechage race.

Former World Champion Nathalie Benoit of France won in 5:44.30 and Canada was next to qualify for the final in 5:49.77 (1000m). Korea (5:52.74) Portugal (6:40.48) and Japan (7:02.53) are relegated to the B final as a result of this rep.

The AS women’s single sculls final – featuring Israel, Brazil, Ukraine, Belarus, France and Canada – will be raced at 10:50 (GMT) on Sunday.

Competition will be strong, but Reid has raced well in the preliminary rounds. “I have my own game plan,” she said today. “The other boats won’t affect me.”

The other Canadian entry (LTA 4+) was a heart-breaking third in a rep today in 3:28.82, and now must row in the B final.

This crew is Anthony Theriault (Nanaimo, BC), David Blair (Ottawa, ON), Victoria Nolan (Toronto, ON), Meghan Montgomery (Winnipeg, MB) and coxswain Kristen Kit (St. Catharines, ON). The Canadian four are former World Champions and last year took a silver medal, but have struggled this year at a World Cup as other crews have emerged in the Paralympic year.

The Ukrainian crew won the rep in 3:23.53, followed by China in 3:25.03 – top two qualified for the A final. Ireland and Russia also must row in the B final. Italy and the U.S. qualified from the other rep, and they will meet Ukraine, China, Great Britain and Germany in tomorrow’s final.

“All the countries that made the A final have made some lineup changes, which has increased the level of competition in this event,” said Rowing Canada Aviron’s lead Para-rowing coach, Jeff Dunbrack. “Our crew has worked hard in the past few years, but obviously as Para rowing steps up around the World, we will also have to look at ways of improving.”

Conditions today were reported to be overcast, but good for rowing.

Check out www.worldrowing.com for results and reports.

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