UPDATED: Swiss star GMELIN leads challenge for women's rowing titles
UPDATED: Updated to change fourth paragraph to reflect the withdrawal from competition of Ireland's Sanita PUSPURE.
GLASGOW - Swiss rower Jeannine GMELIN comes to the Glasgow 2018 European Championships as the undisputed favourite for the women's single sculls gold medal.
GMELIN has been unbeaten in five world cup events since the first regatta of 2017 and she also captured the 2017 world title.
It was the year her career really took off following her first major international medal at the 2015 European championships in Poznan, Poland, where she achieved silver behind 2012 Olympic champion Miroslava TOPINKOVA KNAPKOVA (CZE).
A major threat to GMELIN's hopes will come from Austria's Magdalena LOBNIG (AUT).
The other women’s events are more wide open. The Netherlands team arrives after a strong season in which their women’s eight and women’s double sculls crews beat all of their European rivals at the three world cup regattas.
The Dutch, who are world champions, could also be a threat in the women’s quadruple sculls, but Poland looked stronger at the latest world cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Germany hold the world best time in the women's quadruple sculls and are European and Olympic champions, but they are sending their second-ranked quad to compete at Glasgow rather than the quartet who topped this year’s world cup standings. However the line-up includes Olympic champion Julia LIER and European champion Frauke HUNDELING, meaning they will still be among the top contenders.
In the lightweight women's double sculls, 2017 European champion Weronika DERESZ (POL) has Joanna DOROCIAK (POL) as her new crewmate. The opposition also includes 2017 world champions Ionela-Livia COZMIUC and Gianina-Elena BELEAGA (ROU), and the Dutch silver medallists from last year's European championships, Ilse PAULIS and Marieke KEIJSER.
DERESZ's 2017 crewmate Martyna MIKOLAJCZAK (POL) has switched to the openweight women's double sculls for the 2018 season and will race in a competitive line-up which also includes European champions Kristyna FLEISSNEROVA and Lenka ANTOSOVA (CZE). The Czechs will need to battle hard to defend their title, as they have failed to reach a podium since the race on home water in Radice last year.
Only three countries have entered a women's eight, which means Great Britain, the Netherlands and Romania are each guaranteed a medal. The Netherlands have won silver in each of the past two years, behind Great Britain in 2016 and Romania in 2017, but after a strong season they should be confident of improving on those results this time.
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