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Olympics: Gier brothers struggle in rowing

Atlanta gold medallists Michael and Markus Gier have failed to secure an automatic place in the lightweight double sculls semi-finals. They will now have to contest Wednesday's second qualifier to have any chance of defending their Olympic title.

In the first heats, the Swiss brothers lost out by more than three seconds to the Polish pairing of Tomasz Kucharski and Robert Sycz. The Giers’ time was only the seventh fastest of the day, but the two said afterwards they were still confident of improving.

“It certainly wasn’t a bad race,” Michael insisted. “We just haven’t quite worked things out yet.”

The Swiss entrants in the women’s lightweight double sculls will also have to take the long route if they are to progress to the semi-finals. Kim Plugge and Pia Vogel are also heading for the second qualifying round after making a brave attempt to beat Constanta Burcica and Angela Alipei of Romania.

Shortly after the start of their heat the Swiss pair held a slight lead over the Romanians. But after their opponents overtook, Plugge and Vogel changed tactics.

“We had decided before the race that we would fight to the end if we were still in contention after 1,500 metres”, they explained. Since this wasn’t the case and only one boat could go through from each heat, Plugge and Vogel decided to conserve their energy.

Like the Gier brothers, the two Swiss women recorded the seventh fastest time overall. Both pairs will contest their second qualifying round races on Wednesday.

There was better news for the Swiss in the men’s quadruple sculls, as Simon Stürm, Christian Stofer, Michael Erdlen and André Vornarburg booked their automatic place in the semi-finals.

The four recorded the second fastest time of the day, beaten only by the crew from Italy. Swiss coach Reto Wyss was particularly pleased to see his men outperform the American crew who knocked the Swiss out of the recent Rotsee regatta in Lucerne.

“We lost confidence after the Rotsee regatta,” he admitted. “But now we know that we’re back in the race.”

The Swiss four will now use the next few days to work more on their rhythm. The semi-finals are due to take place on Friday.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR