Germany and Italy each picked up two gold medals today on the opening day of finals at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv in Bulgaria.
One of Germany’s golds came in the lightweight men’s single sculls, in which Jason Osborne overcame the European champion Michael Schmid from Switzerland in a very tight final.
The German entered the final having set a world's best time in the heats and so in the eyes of many was the favourite, despite going up against the reigning European champion.
Osborne got off to a very fast start and was able to hold off the rest of the field to win in 6min 56.360sec.
It meant Schmid adds world silver to his European gold as he crossed the line in 6:58.340, while bronze went to Andrew Campbell Junior from the United States.
Germany’s other gold came in the lightweight men’s quadruple sculls, where once again the reigning European champions had to settle for second.
Italy entered the race as European gold medallists, but they were unable to beat Germany’s team of Joachim Agne, Max Roeger, Florian Roller and Moritz Moos, who started quickly and crossed the line first in 5:51.210.
The Italian crew had qualified for the final with the fastest time but had to settle for second, finishing in 5:52.850, while Turkey took bronze, finishing another second behind in 5:53.950.
Italy's first triumph came in the lightweight men’s pair in a final featuring only three boats.
Antonios Papakonstantinou and Ioannis Marokos from Greece initially took the lead and by the middle they led by a full boat length.
Giuseppe Di Mare and Alfonso Scalzone managed to claw ahead in the last 500 metres, however, eventually taking the gold in 6:38.550.
They may have been caught by the Italians, but Papakonstantinou and Marokos still finished a full 15 seconds ahead of David Smith and Thomas Foster from the United States to secure the silver.
Italy’s second gold came in the very next race, the lightweight women’s pair.
With only two boats in it, Serena and Giorgia Lo Bue only had to beat Jennifer Sager and Jillian Zieff from the United States.
They did so in style as the Italians finished 15 seconds ahead in 7:30.840.
Four Para finals were decided today, including the Para PR2 men’s single sculls.
Corne de Koning from the Netherlands won that comfortably having set a new world's best time in the heats.
He finished seven seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, but afterwards said he found it difficult to get into a rhythm.
“I was quite nervous before the start because racing with expectations this high is more difficult than racing without expectations,” he said.
The final race of the day, the lightweight women’s single sculls, was won by France’s Laura Tarantola by just 0.17 seconds ahead of Clara Guerra from Italy.
Bronze was won by Great Britain’s Imogen Grant.
The event continues tomorrow.