4 August 13:53 (BST)

Romania and Italy dominate medal haul on day of close rowing finals

GLASGOW - Romania and Italy dominated breezy waters as the first nine medals in rowing at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships were handed out at Strathclyde Country Park on Saturday.

Romania won three gold medals and added one silver and one bronze to their tally, while Italy took home two gold and one bronze.

The 2017 European women's pair champion Madalina BERES (ROU) successfully defended her title. BERES and partner Denisa TILVESCU (ROU) were slow at the start but worked their way steadily through the opposition to win by almost two seconds over the Netherlands. Italy took bronze.

Romania's young men's four, who were crowned under-23 world champions just last weekend in Poznan, added the European senior title to their medal cabinet in a strong row. They led at all markers, with Great Britain second and France third.

Crew member Cosmin PASCARI described the winning feeling as "awesome", saying their tactics had been simple. "We started in front, we got the speed and stayed in front," he said.

The final Romanian gold came in the women's eight. Like their men's four, the women led from the start to beat Great Britain and the Netherlands.

Italy won the lightweight and openweight men's quadruple sculls. The lightweights dominated their race and secured the largest winning margin of the day of over eight seconds ahead of the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

Later on, the Italian men's quad also won gold. Behind them Lithuania stormed through Poland and Ukraine in the closing quarter of the race to win silver, with Poland hanging on for bronze.

Luca RAMBALDI (ITA) said tactics, courage and heart had given them the win, although he added: "Rowing is a terrible sport, too much fatigue."

The closest race of the morning was the women's double sculls, with just over 0.6 seconds separating the first four crews at the line. Champions Helene LEFEBVRE (FRA) and Elodie RAVERA-SCRAMOZZINO (FRA) were overjoyed with their first international victory, which LEFEBVRE attributed to "just desire".

The Netherlands and Lithuania won silver and bronze respectively behind France, pushing Italy out of the medals.

Poland, Croatia and Russia won the remaining gold medals. Poland won the women's quadruple sculls, as well as taking bronze in the women's four and men's quad.

Croatian brothers Valent and Martin SINKOVIC rowed through French brothers Theophile and Valentin ONFROY to take their first major title in this boat class, while Russia improved on early season performances to win the women's four.

The rowing competition concludes on Sunday. Competition begins at 09:45 with the C final of the lightweight men's single sculls.

CNS jh/rm

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