June 1,2014(ISN) – The men’s pair final at the European Rowing Championships on Belgrade’s Sava Lake provided the home crowd with a huge moment to cherish today as Serbia’s inexperienced Veslin Savic and Dusan Bogicevic produced the shock result of the three-day competition.
The pair held off the Dutch world bronze medallists by 0.24sec to win gold in a European best time of 6 min 21.75sec.
Elsewhere on the programme, Britain’s “flagship” four, being primed for the Rio 2016 Olympics, laid down a huge marker in their first international championship together as they produced their second European best of the Championships, 5:46.86, well clear of their nearest challengers, Greece, who clocked 5:51.02.
In the lightweight women’s double sculls, Italy’s world champions Laura Milani and Elisabetta Sancassani withstood huge pressure from the German and British crews to earn gold on a day when competitors were helped by cool conditions and a tail wind.
But another world champion crew, Norway’s Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch, were submerged by new contenders as they finished out of the medals in a men’s double sculls final in which Lithuania’s world silver medallist Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter took gold in a European best time of 6:08.82.
They finished ahead of Azerbaijan’s Aleksandar Aleskandrov and Boris Yotov, with the German pair of Hans Gruhne and Stephan Krueger, who had set the pace in the earlier rounds, taking bronze.
Lithuania’s world double sculls silver medallists Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter took gold at Belgrade in a race where the Norwegian world champions finished out of the medals ©Getty Images
Savic had only been on the Serbian national team once before, in 2011, when he took gold at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships in the coxed four.
Bogicevic had seen a few international regattas over the years, but all as a sculler, mainly in the double sculls.
They combined earlier this year, but their inexperience did not tell against them as they controlled the pair final after taking an early lead.
With the Dutch pairing of Rogier Blink and Mitchel Steenman, who won at the World Rowing Cup in Sydney earlier this year, pursuing them, the home pair kept their rhythm and were just able to withstand the challenge at the line.
Britain’s men’s four, which contained two of the men who had won a fourth consecutive gold for their country in the Olympic event at the London 2012 Games, Andy Triggs Hodge and Alex Gregory, had looked in a class of their own from the heats, and they did nothing to dispel the impression in the final.
With newcomers Moe Sbihi and George Nash aboard, they were nearly a boat length clear after just 500 metres, and by the halfway stage they had killed off the challenge from the Dutch world champions.
Greece, back after a year’s break and with three of the rowers who finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic men’s four final, moved up to challenge in the third 50om stretch, but could make no real impression on the leaders.
Milani and Sancassani started near the back as Germany’s world medallists Lena Mueller and Anja Noske, fastest in the heats, were out in front in the lightweight women’s double sculls.
But the Italians moved up in the second half of the race to maintain an unbeaten run in finals which goes back to the end of 2012.
The Germans held onto silver on a photo-finish from Britain’s Kat Copeland – who won gold at the London 2012 Games with the now retired Sophie Hosking – and Imogen Walsh.
Greece’s 21-year-old Aikaterini Nikolaidou, a world silver medallist last year, confirmed her superb potential in the lightweight women’s single sculls as – under huge pressure from Marie-Anne Frenken of The Netherlands – she defended her title in a European Best Time of 7:33.12 that was five seconds faster than the one she had set in the semi-finals.
Switzerland’s Simon Niepmann and Lucas Tramer also annihilated the European best time in their lightweight men’s pair final as they overhauled the new British crew of Sam Scrimgeour and Jonathan Clegg to win in 6:29.57.
Britain’s Olympic champion Helen Glover, teamed with Polly Swann, with whom she won the world title in the women’s pair last year, secured another gold with a European best of 7:03.62, a long way ahead of Romania,
Britain’s Helen Glover (left) and Polly Swann, pictured after winning the women’s pair at last year’s World Championships, took European gold in Belgrade ©Getty Images
The Czech Republic secured both the men’s and women’s single sculls golds, with the former race being won by Olympic silver medallist and double world champion Ondrej Synek, and the women’s race being won by Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova.
Germany’s Olympic champion men’s eight crew, which lost to Britain at last year’s World Championships, regained the golden feeling as they held off a Russian crew coached by the legendary Mike Spracklen.
Britain’s crew, which included double Olympic fours gold medallist Pete Reed, took bron