NEWS
08/08/2016 09:56 EDT | Updated 08/09/2017 01:12 EDT

Canada's men's quadruple sculls finishes 5th in repechage, misses Olympic final

RIO DE JANEIRO — Canada finished a disappointing fifth in the men's quadruple sculls repechage Monday, failing to qualify for the Olympic final as the rowing regatta resumed after high winds forced the postponement of Sunday's races.

Will Dean of Kelowna, B.C., Rob Gibson of Kingston, Ont., Pascal Lussier of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Julien Bahain — who was born in France but competes for Canada — needed a top-2 result to advance, but instead had to settle for a time of five minutes 56.28 seconds.

"We just beat ourselves," said Gibson. "We just tried too hard. We started pulling apart from each other and in a boat and a crew like this we've really got to be one unit. We've said it all along we're strong enough to be with the best crews in the world."

Germany was first in 5:51.43, ahead of Britain in 5:53.10.

Meanwhile, Victoria's Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee, viewed as one of Canada's best hopes for a medal in rowing, won in their heat in the women's lightweight double sculls to book a place in Wednesday's semifinal with a time of 7:03.51, ahead of Poland (7:05.02) and Germany (7:11.08).

Canada's men's four had a photo finish in its heat for second place, edging out the United States by 0.05 seconds.

Kingston's Will Crothers, Kai Langerfeld of North Vancouver, B.C., Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont., and Tim Schrijver of Thedford, Ont., posted a time of 5:58.26 to make Wednesday's semifinals, just 0.25 seconds back of Italy.

Canada's women's eight crew was last in its three-boat heat and will need to crack the top-4 of Wednesday's repechage to make the final.

Victoria's Caileigh Filmer, Susanne Grainger of London, Ont., Natalie Mastracci of Thorold, Ont., Cristy Nurse of Georgetown, Ont., Lisa Roman of Langley, B.C., Christine Roper — a native of Jamaica now living in Canada — Antje von Seydlitz of Smithers, B.C., and Lauren Wilkinson of North Vancouver, B.C., along with coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie of London, clocked in at 6:12.44, 0.39 seconds back of New Zealand.

Britain qualified for the final by winning the heat in 6:09.52.

The Canadian men's quad, which needed a last-chance qualifier to make it to Rio, stumbled during Saturday's heats and never recovered. The crew was in good shape through the first 1,500 metres despite choppy waters until a wave caused Gibson to lose the grip on one of his oars, forcing the rest of his teammates to pause their strokes to get back on track.

Canada had a decent start in Monday's repechage, but faded in the middle portion and couldn't close the gap in the final 500 metres.

Missing the Olympic final is a crushing blow to Rowing Canada, which scrapped the popular and successful men's eight after London 2012 to focus on the quad and the men's four.

"We came to Rio expecting to podium, if not to win," said Gibson. "This is not the way we envisioned the outcome."

The eight won silver four years ago after capturing Olympic gold in 2008, 1992 and 1984, but the idea was to double Canada's chances at a medal and the subsequent funding from Own The Podium.

"For us as athletes, when the plans changed to go towards smaller boats we just accepted the challenge," said Gibson. "Growing up we were are all university rowers ... we're used to the eight, but I think we all accepted the challenge. We're not going to point the blame at anyone else."

While the wind died down considerably on Monday, Jennerich and Obee knew heading into their race that it would still be a factor.

"We were prepared to be thrown around a little and I think we handled that really well," said the 34-year-old Jennerich. "We got into rhythm a bit early, really stayed connected to the hull with our feet and just worked ourselves through that middle 1,000 confidently knowing that as long we got a good grip on the water we could do the work we needed to do."

Monday marked the first time the women's eight had raced together after Filmer, 19, bumped a veteran prior to Rio in hopes of shaking up a boat that wobbled in the lead-up to the Games.

"We had an OK start, a solid body and I think we're really happy with the push we had to the end, but we know there's more speed in the tank," said the 26-year-old Roper. "Every time you race there's a learning curve. We're just going to use that."

Canada brought a relatively inexperienced group to Brazil with just three returnees from the women's crew that won silver in London. The boat was second at the 2014 world championships, but dropped down to third in 2015 before and was bumped off the podium at the final World Cup tune-up in May.

"We've come a long way the last six weeks," said Thompson-Willie, a 56-year-old who is at her record-tying eighth Olympics. "We had a great year of training and then some racing that was not quite the right rhythm."

In other races involving Canadian boats, Brendan Hodge of South Delta, B.C., Maxwell Lattimer of Delta, B.C., Nicolas Pratt of Kingston, Ont., and Eric Woelfl of St. Catharines, Ont., finished last in the men's lightweight four repechage and didn't advance.

Calgary's Nicole Hare and Toronto's Jennifer Martins were fourth in their heat in the women's pair and will have to race in Tuesday's repechage for a chance at the semis.

With the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue towering over the course at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Monday featured a jam-packed schedule of 30 combined heats and repechages following the decision to scrap Sunday's races because of blustery conditions and the resulting turbulent waters.

That postponement came after Saturday's opening heats were marred by high winds and whitecapped waves that saw two Serbian rowers capsize during their event.

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