Triathletes, rowers and riders test the water in Rio
On 2 August, most of the world’s top triathletes convened in Brazil for the 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic qualification event, which took place in and around the city’s iconic Copacabana Beach.
Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) confirmed his status as one of triathlon’s top all-rounders, by taking the gold medal and ensuring a berth for himself and his National Federation at next year’s Olympic Games. “It feels great to have my qualification for Rio,” he said. “I enjoyed racing the course, it was a tough race but I felt quite good. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it was controlled so I am really happy.”
Vincent Luis (FRA), who finished second, secured France’s men a ticket to Rio, while Richard Murray clinched the third automatic berth for South Africa when he took the bronze. Reigning Olympic men’s champion Alistair Brownlee (GBR) could only finish 10th.
In the women’s event, the in-form Gwen Jorgensen (USA) claimed her 12th straight victory and with it a return ticket to Rio next summer. “I’ve been working towards this for a while, since the London Olympics, so I’m excited to be able to come back here next year,” said Jorgensen afterwards.
The other podium places were claimed by British housemates Non Stanford and Vicky Holland, who took silver and bronze respectively. However, they still need to wait to find out whether they will be returning to Rio next summer as Great Britain require another podium finish in the World Championships later this season in order to cement their Olympic qualification.
“For us this is step one, but probably the most significant step. But once you have done one step, the next step gets a little bit more obtainable,” said Stanford.
German rowers in cruise control
The 2015 World Rowing Junior Championships, which took place on the waters Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon on 5-8 August served as a test event for next year's Olympic rowing.
German rowers dominated proceedings, with their crews featuring in all 13 finals. An impressive tally of 11 medals included five golds. In the women’s double sculls Annemieke Schanze and Frieda Hammerling saw off a strong field that included two-time junior world champions Elena Logofatu and Nicoleta Pascanu of Romania. The Germans also got the better of their Romanian counterparts in the men's pairs as Olaf Roggensack and Rene Schmela of Germany edged Constantin-Crist Hirgau and Alexandru Chioseau in a dramatic race for the line.
Italy’s rowers also enjoyed a successful competition, picking up five medals, including golds in in the junior men's single sculls and junior men's double sculls. The Netherlands finished third in the medals table with two golds: Marieke Keijser won the junior women's single sculls, while the Dutch crew also won the junior men’s eight.
FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland said the regatta gave a good impression of how next year's Olympic competition would play out; "It was a very interesting regatta that helped us gather important information that will be necessary for running a successful Olympic rowing regatta.”
Brazilians riding high
Marcio Jorge (BRA) and his mount Coronel MCJ emerged as convincing winners of the Aquece Rio International Horse Trials. The Olympic test event, which took place on 5-9 August in front of large crowds at Rio’s Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Centre, was contested exclusively by riders from host country Brazil.
Jorge, who had moved into the lead during the cross-country section, won gold by a huge margin following a fault-free jumping round. His compatriots Marcio Appel (Cross Rock) and Marcelo Tosi (Glenfly) completed the podium.
After the medal ceremony, which was overseen by Nawal el Moutawakel, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Rio 2016, Jorge was enthusiastic about the prospects for Brazil’s equestrian athletes on home soil next summer.
“There’s strong competition to get in the team and it will be a tough selection, but we’re in a good position now as we had very few at this level in the past and we had no substitutes”, he said.
"The Rio 2016 legacy will be spectacular, not only for equestrian, but for all other sports. It will be a great incentive to get a new generation into sport. And of course it also helps the high-performance athletes. I think the Olympics will leave us among the best sporting countries.”