PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY WORLD ROWING
With a revised schedule to beat an adverse weather forecast, racing was fast and furious on a blustery Ada Ciganlija Regatta course on Day 2 of the 2023 World Rowing Championships. While some crews’ hopes of a qualification spot for Paris 2024 were dashed, four boats secured their nation’s places at next year’s Paralympic Games.
The first opportunity for any boats to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic or Paralympic Games came in the heats of the PR3 mixed coxed four, which is proving to be an increasingly competitive event. In heat 1, it was Germany and France who crossed the line and qualified their boats for the Games, and for their A-Final. Great Britain, who have dominated this event for the last decade, won heat 2 but were surprisingly third at the 500m mark behind the USA and Australia before pulling ahead; the USA were second.
British coxswain Erin Kennedy said she was looking forward to the final, adding: “It’s going to be really tight. I think it’s going to be the tightest this field has ever had, particularly over the 2k (course). We’ve got the Americans, the Germans, the French, the Australians. It’s going to be a spicy final.”
In the PR3 mixed double sculls, World Best Time holders, Nikki Ayers and Jed Altschwager of Australia, took the win in their heat with a clear-water advantage over the rest of the field, and set a new World Championship Best Time in the process. They crossed the line in 7:20.93, over 8 seconds faster than the previous time, which had been set in 2017.
In the lightweight women’s double sculls, it was no surprise to see the reigning World Champions from Great Britain win their heat. Romania, Canada, and the USA also won their heats, sending the reigning Olympic Champions from Italy, and reigning Olympic silver medallists from France to the Repechage.
It would be hard to look past the Dutch in the four person boats, as they won their heats in both the men’s and women’s fours, and men’s and women’s quadruple sculls. They also postest the fastest time across all those boat classes except the women’s quadruple sculls, where the reigning Olympic and World Champions from China look to be back in fighting form.
As for the single sculls, former men’s single sculls Olympic medallist Kjetil Borch was relegated to the repechage in yesterday’s heats, but progressed safely to the quarterfinals today. Individual Neutral Athlete Alexander Vyazovkin, who made the A-final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, was less lucky as he was beaten by the USA’s Eliot Putnam. Uzbekistan’s Olympic silver medallist Anna Prakaten won her women’s single sculls repechage.
Racing continues tomorrow, 5 September, with the remaining Heats in all boat classes.
Qualification for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games continues tomorrow with the remaining two spots (not including the quota places available through the 2024 Final Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta) in the PR3 Mixed Coxed Four, determined in that Repechage. The two winners of the PR1 women’s single sculls, and the PR2 mixed double sculls’ heats will also secure a spot for Paris. It is important to note that it is not the rowers that qualify for the Games through the World Rowing Championships, but rather the boat for that respective nation.
The A-Finals for all 27 boat classes will take place from Friday, 8 September, to Sunday, 10 September.
The 2023 World Rowing Championships are the first chance to secure national quota places for next year’s Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. For more on the Olympic Qualification Pathway see here. The Paralympic Qualification criteria can be found here.