Rowing: the joy and elation of Laura Tarantola and Claire Bové upon winning their silver medals!

Thursday, 29 july 2021

Laura Tarantola, supported by Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes*, and Claire Bové, supported by Banque Populaire Rives de Paris*, won a superb silver medal in the lightweight double sculls at the end of a nail-biting race

Breathtaking to the very end…  

This will certainly remain one of the most exciting performances achieved by French athletes at the Tokyo Games: that incredible endgame as they sped along the Sea Forest waterway, that desperate struggle with the Italian, Dutch, and British teams, the suspense of those interminable seconds as they waited for the final result to emerge from the photo finish, and that sense of elation, always sublime in rowing when the expression of joy must overcome the rowers’ utter exhaustion! It is said – and justifiably so! – that the essence of a rowing regatta is exhaustion management. And this was absolutely the case in this final race where the Dutch were leading and the French were neck-and-neck with the British and Italians… The previous day, in the ‘final sprint’ phase of the race, the French double sculls rowers, albeit victorious, committed what is known as ‘catching a crab,’ i.e. the oar dragged in the water, causing the boat to lose precious momentum. The staff warned the two women to pay particular attention to this in their final sprint… to the effect that the French women’s boat snatched the silver medal from the Dutch for 49 hundredths of a second while trailing the Italians by just 14 hundredths!

Laura Tarantola and Claire Bové literally gave their very best to win the silver medal in the lightweight double sculls. It was in Atlanta that the International Rowing Federation decided to introduce lightweight categories to enable rowers of different sizes to express themselves and obtain Olympic medals. It was a good thing because it made the discipline accessible to all profiles. The double sculls event uses a ‘sculled boat’ in which each rower has two oars, as opposed to ‘sweep boats’ where each rower handles a single oar. It requires considerable rowing skills… clearly possessed by these two young women who successfully combined their efforts into a single movement.
The lightweight categories will be dropped in the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

A French tradition  

Although disappointment in the French rowers’ failure to win gold by just a whisker is perfectly understandable, when the young women left their boat they were clearly delighted with this superb silver medal, which could easily have evaded them considering their wafer-thin lead over the Dutch. Their happiness and smiles on the podium were infectious, coming just one day after the gold medal won by the French men in the same event. These two rowing medals consolidate what has now become an Olympic tradition for French rowers launched a few years ago with the arrival of Eberhard Mund, the charismatic East German coach who completely reorganized and reinstated the discipline in France. Since then, rowing has become a source of medals with the male athletes so far achieving the lion’s share of the results. The last medal won by the women goes back to Atlanta, also in double sculls with Christine Gossé and Hélène Cortin. 

Now Laura Tarantola and Claire Bové, after their moment of glory, the cheers and accolades followed by well-deserved vacations, will be looking forward to the Vaires-sur-Marne nautical stadium, where the rowing regattas of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 will be organized… where those missing fractions of a second in Tokyo will be a tremendous motivation for their training every day!

Congratulations to both of them!

* Via the Performance Pact
Photo copyright: KMSP