By Yuri Kovalev
Belarus has won a record number of medals — one gold, three silver and four bronze — at the Rowing Canal in Szeged; according to specialists, it boasts the most dedicated fans. Our athletes claimed six Olympic tickets as a result of their unchallenged triumph.
Sadly, Olympic champions Roman Petrushenko, Alexey Abalmasov, Artur Litvinchuk and Vadim Makhnev failed to reach the main finals and did not take part in B finals, which have placed their chances of going to London in jeopardy. Their last opportunity will come in spring. The men’s kayak four is one of the most spectacular and prestigious in the Games’ programme, with Belarus already known for its skill. Our athletes caused a real stir at the Beijing Olympics and have since regularly confirmed their leadership, winning various international level medals.
Other season leaders, including Oleg Yurenya of Belarus, were also left without medals. Oleg faced disappointment in the K1 1,000m but nevertheless has his place at the London Olympics, as do Alexander and Andrey Bogdanovich, who came sixth in C2 1,000m. Yurenya almost came first in the marathon K1 5,000m; his delayed start left him in second place.
Roman Petrushenko and Vadim Makhnev earned bronze in the K2 200m, but could have done better. They spoilt their first two strokes, which influenced their position. Alongside the women’s four, they managed to win medals in Olympic disciplines. Irina Pomelova, Nadezhda Popok, Olga Khudenko and Marina Poltoran came third behind Hungary and Germany. Poltoran has long been a leader in the K1 5,000m, but failed to keep her initiative during the final section, leaving her with bronze.
The only gold was won by canoeists Dmitry Ryabchenko, Dmitry Voitishkin, Denis Garazha and Alexander Volchetsky — in the C4 1,000m; they left their rivals no chance for the third time at world championships. They have places at the London Games in all three events. Alexander Zhukovsky came fourth in the men’s C1 1,000m while Dmitry Voitishkin finished sixth in the C1 200m.
The coaches have decided not to accelerate the training of Denis Garazha — who leads the national team. He missed the beginning of the season due to injury. He took part in the less prestigious C1 500m, claiming silver. Meanwhile, Ryabchenko and Volchetsky gave us a pleasing bronze in the C2 sprint event. Finally, young kayaker Pavel Medvedev won silver in the K1 500m.