Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, Mapo, Shunyi
Date Started: August 9, 2008
Date Finished: August 16, 2008
Bulgaria’s Rumyana Neykova , Belarus’ Yekaterina Karsten, and Germany’s Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski had dominated the women’s single sculls for years, winning all of the medals at the last two editions of the Olympic Games and 15 of the 16 World Championship medals between 1999 and 2003. Rutschow-Stomporowski had retired, however, which transformed the event into a constant battle between Neykova and Karsten, one that would continue into the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Belarusian had had the upper hand as of late, winning the last three World Championships, although Neykova had won the European Championship when it was resurrected in 2007, as well as the 2005 Princess Royal Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta, and had been runner-up at the 2007 Worlds. Rutschow-Stomporowski’s absence, however, had allowed some new contenders to rise to the fore. Among them was Mirka Knapková of the Czech Republic, who had placed fourth at the 2004 Olympics and been runner-up at the 2005 and 2006 World Championships, as well as the 2007 European Championships. There was also Michelle Guerette of the United States, the 2007 winner of the Princess Royal Challenge Cup and bronze medalist at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships, while the two-time Pan American champion was Mayra González of Cuba.
The fastest time of the opening round went to China’s Zhang Xiuyun, a silver medalist from the 1996 Olympic double sculls, followed by Karsten, who defeated Guerette handily in an almost meaningless heat where everyone advanced. The situation was similar for Neykova, whose heat also had absurdly slow times as all the participants conserved their energy. Other heats were won by New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, Italy’s Gabriella Bascelli, and Knapková. The potential for elimination made the quarter-finals more competitive, with heats won by Guerette, Knapková, Neykova, and Karsten. González was eliminated in Knapková’s heat, while Zhang was runner-up in Neykova’s and Bascelli and Twigg came third in Guerette’s and Karsten’s respectively. The semi-finals were even more exciting, as Karsten and Neykova faced off, with the latter winning by 0.43 seconds and both helping to eliminate Twigg. It was Zhang, however, who had the fastest time in this round, with Guerette and Knapková rounding out the three qualifiers and leaving Bascelli behind. The final was an enthralling race in which the places changed many times, but the dash for the finish line came down to a battle between Guerette and Neykova, the latter of whom was able to eke out a victory by 0.44 seconds, leaving the American with silver. Karsten, perhaps paying the price for her efforts in the semi-finals, lost to Neykova and settled for a bronze medal. Both competitors, however, now had a full set of Olympic medals in the single sculls, although Karsten had two Olympic titles and a bronze medal from the 1992 quadruple sculls as well.
|2||Michelle Guerette||27||United States||USA||Silver|
|5||Mirka Knapková||27||Czech Republic||CZE|
|9||Emma Twigg||21||New Zealand||NZL|
|13||Rika Geyser||29||South Africa||RSA|
|20||Sin Yeong-Eun||20||South Korea||KOR|
|21||Zin Latt Shwe||22||Myanmar||MYA|
|22||Camila Vargas||21||El Salvador||ESA|
|23||Lee Ka Man||21||Hong Kong||HKG|