The lightweight men’s four has always been fiercely competitive. Tight margins in all of the races provide exciting and unpredictable results. This year the Swiss four continued to dominate the competition and added a third Olympic gold medal to Switzerland’s overall rowing medal count.
The crew of Simon Neipmann, Mario Gyr, Simon Schuerch and Lucas Tramer are the current World and European champions and who won the third ever Olympic gold for their nation in rowing and first since 1996. Denmark added silver to their 2012 bronze medal and France completed the Olympic podium with bronze.
Surprise of the season: Greece pulled off a phenomenal performance by getting into the Olympic final and finishing sixth after only getting the call up to come to the Olympics a couple of weeks before hand following the ineligibility of the qualified Russian crew.
“It is great. It didn’t have the flow as last year in Aiguebelette, but just power, power, power. We worked toward this after London. We always said we wanted to win a medal, but after last year’s World Championships we said gold and now it is gold.” – Simon Schuerch (SUI)
2016 in review: Rio 2016 Olympic Champions Switzerland had shown their pedigree on several occasions this Olympic cycle following their fifth place at the London 2012 Olympics. They started 2016 with wins at the World Rowing Cup I in Varese and retained their European title a month later. At World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, they finished behind New Zealand – the 2016 World Rowing Cup series winners.
Rio saw Switzerland performing strongly in the heat, winning their semifinal and then powering through to the lead by the mid-way point in the final, to become the Olympic Champions. Denmark and France followed in second and third, which meant a repeat of the 2015 World Rowing Championships podium positions.
Silver for Denmark’s Morten Joergensen, Jacob Barsoe and Jacob Larsen and Kasper Joergensen meant that the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Champion Denmark has now medalled at every Olympic Games since the lightweight men’s four was added to the Olympic programme in 1996. It was the third Olympic medal for 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 bronze medallist Morten Joergensen and the second for London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Jacob Barsoe. Historically, Denmark is the most medalled nation in this boat class at Olympic level and also this Olympic cycle, Denmark showed their class by winning the World Rowing Championships twice, in 2013 and 2014.
France, the 2000 Olympic Champions, got back on to the podium with dual Olympian Thomas Baroukh, three-time Olympian Franck Solforosi as well as first time Olympians Guillaume Raineau and Thibault Colard in the boat.
Expected on the podium and among the favourites this year was New Zealand,Rio was the first time a New Zealand lightweight four had made it to the Olympics, but nonetheless three-time Olympian Peter Taylor, James Lassche, James Hunter and Alistair Bond, the 2013 and 2014 World Rowing Championship silver medallists, were disappointed with their fifth place result. They had claimed gold at both the World Rowing Cup stages that they entered and nine out of the 11 World Rowing Cups this Olympiad.
Italy’s Pietro Ruta, Livio La Padula, Martino Goretti and Stefano Oppo impressed by finishing fourth after an average season with a 12th in Varese and a last place in Poznan.
Late Olympic call-up Greece with Panagiotis Magdanis, Stefanos Ntouskas, Ioannis Petrou and Spyridion Giannaros had nothing to lose and made the most of their last-minute opportunity.
Great Britain’s crew, who won silver at the European Rowing Championships and bronze at the World Rowing Cup III, was denied a spot in the A-final. They finished the season by winning the Olympic B-final, which was completed by China, Germany, United States, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.