Mahe Drysdale (NZL) – The reigning Olympic champion comes into Rio as the marginal favourite in what is likely in his last Olympics. Look for him to go out with a bang and retain his Gold in a hard fought final.
Ondrej Synek (CZE) – The current world champion has taken the title every year since taking silver in London four years ago, and many feel he is primed to take the Gold in Rio. He has a victory over Drysdale at the most recent World Championships, however will he be able to turn his Silver to Gold this year.
Alan Campbell (GBR) – A somewhat outsider, Campbell hasn’t won a medal since 2012, however he is hugely experienced and the last medal he did win was Bronze in London. He has performed on the biggest stage before, however could that have just been home field advantage.
Hamish Bond & Eric Murray (NZL) – Where to begin with this pair? They haven’t been beaten in 7 years, they are current and defending Olympic champions and have dominated every world championships they have entered as a pair. Could possibly be as close to a lock to win as you can get.
Alan Sinclair & Stewart Innes (GBR) – The current European Silver come in as the second favourites, however that is a distant second at best. With the entire rowing world basically handing the medal to the New Zealand pair, the upset is there to be taken. The pair are very new together and therefore may not feel the pressure the same.
Roel Braas & Mitchel Steenman (NED) – The Dutch pair take the nod as one of the favourites over European Bronze medallists Serbia, as the Braas & Steenman have taken Gold on the world cup stage. Another pair severely lagging behind the reigning Olympic Champions, it is realistically a fight for the minor medals in Rio.
Valent Sinkovic & Martin Sinkovic (DEN) – The current reigning World and European champions, the Sinkovic brothers are currently dominating world rowing. They are looking to round out their medal haul with victory at the Olympics, and based on current form, I wouldn’t bet against them.
Christopher Harris & Robert Manson (NZL) – What Bond & Murray have in the Coxless Pair, the Sinkovic brothers have in the Double Sculls. For Harris and Manson this race is all about second place, and while they will push the World Champions and will be looking to improvement on their Bronze in that same race, it might just be a race for second place.
Mindaugas Griskonis & Saulius Ritter (LIT) – Similar to the New Zealand pair, Griskonis & Ritter will be playing second fiddle to the pair from Denmark. While Ritter is the current Silver medallist from the world championships, he did this with a different partner. They will be tested to see if this new partnership can produce similar results.
Switzerland – The Swiss crew shocked the world by becoming world champions in 2015 and enter into the Olympics with both the goal of victory and a huge target on their back with the world trying to take them down. They were not predicted to beat Denmark to the world title, and they did, they now have to back in up by adding the Olympic Gold to their trophy cabinet.
Demark – Until late last year, you could have easily made the Danes the favourites for the Olympic title until their shock defeat to Switzerland at the World Championships. Even so the Danish squad still have their sights set on the Gold, but recently going without a medal at the European championships can’t have helped their form entering into Rio.
New Zealand – The Kiwis have had somewhat of an odd season, they arrived into the start of their season with back to back victories over both the Danes and the Swiss, however when it came to world championships, fourth was the best they could do. With victories and defeats against both the other crews, this could be one of the closet races at the Olympics.
Australia – The current world Silver medallists come into Rio with a very different team than the four who pushed Germany all the way back in September of last year. With David Crawshay, one of their major players, retiring after the event, the line-up has changed coming in to Rio. With this in mind will the newly formed team taste some early success?
Germany – The current world champions dominated the race from start to finish in capturing the title, and they were chased close by Australia, they didn’t once relinquish their lead. A very strong force in the Quadruple Sculls, if they can repeat this form, they are hard favourites to walk away with the Gold medal.
Estonia – Estonia have been lighting up the rowing world with Bronze at the world championships followed by a Gold medal at the Europeans this year. With a boat seeming to improve with every outing, it would seem they are the form team entering Rio. Crucially at this event Germany were way back in fourth, well outside the winning time.
Lightweight Double Sculls
Jeremie Azou & Pierre Houin (FRA) – Azou is the current world champion, his partner Houin didn’t win the medal with him, and to add to that, they didn’t compete at the most recent European championships either. With that being said, the European championships wasn’t the strongest of fields without any of the other teams getting close to their championship winning time. If the new team can replicate what they had before, Gold is within their grasp.
Kristoffer Brun & Are Strandli (NOR) – With Bronze medals at the world and European championships, Norway have performed on the big stage. Unfortunately, it seems when given the chance they froze up when against lesser competition. This medal remains very open and whoever turns up on the day, could be the eventual winner.
James Thompson & John Smith (RSA) – Recent success has somewhat alluded this pair with their most notable result being Fourth in the world championships, however when they are all guns blazing they are very fast. The hold the fastest time of this current Olympic cycle from the 2014 World championship victory, and if they rediscover that form, they will be hard to beat.
Great Britain – After placing third in the 2015 World Championships, the British four had a remarkable change up before the 2016 European championships, completely changing the entire team. This proved successful with a Gold medal and moniker of European champions. Crucially however the two teams they finished behind in 2015, Italy and Australia, weren’t at the race they won. Success breeds confidence however, and Britain enter Rio on a title winning cloud.
Italy – The current world champions are the boat to beat entering Rio 2016 and for good reason. With a huge and dominant victory over their closest rivals they are the out and out favourites. While Britain did claim the most recent European title, Italy weren’t present at the race. Even without a major victory this year, Italy are still the team to beat.
Australia – Separating the world and European champions at the 2015 championships, Silver medallists Australia will be gunning for the Olympic title. Thoroughly beaten in 2015, they will be hoping that as the dark horse, they can come from nowhere to beat the favourites and the form team. Australia have a point to prove and betting against them should be done at your own risk.
Germany – The current European Champions and World Championship Silver medallists are the form team entering Rio. Only just beaten by a whisker by the British team at the Worlds, they got a measure of revenge at the Europeans, showing off their dominance in recording a victory. Five of the six finalists at the World Championships were European, so Germany know exactly what they have to do to add Olympic Gold to their collection.
Great Britain – The world champions haven’t exactly repeated their 2015 form into the Olympic year, with a Bronze medal behind the Germans and Russians at the European Championships. The British eight were beaten easily in May and will be hoping the fact that they won the title against all the world’s boats will make other teams nervous to face them. They have proven they can produce the goods in the big match, but will that be enough to overcome the form teams in Rio.
Russia – After a fifth place at the world championships in 2015, no one has improved more than the Russian boat into 2016. At the European championships they took a Silver medal, with Great Britain down in third and the world Bronze medallists the Netherlands in sixth place. If they keep improving, they have shown they can hang with the best of them, and could provide a true upset at the Rio Olympics.