PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY WORLD ROWING
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The stunning surroundings of Lago di Varese provided the backdrop for a second epic day of Finals with 19 more winners crowned and several World Best Times smashed – all five of them in the five Paralympic boat classes.
Twenty nations in total collected medals across the two days of finals, with Great Britain topping the table with an total of six gold, three silver and two bronze. Home nation Italy followed on the medal table with a total of nine medals, while Australia, competing internationally for the first time this season, finished with eight medals.
In perfectly calm and warm conditions, the first three A-Finals of the day saw three World Best Times in a row. Birgit Skarstein of Norway, in traditional dominating fashion, took home yet another World Cup win in the PR1 women’s single sculls, beating her previous World Best Time by three seconds. The following race saw Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine getting his revenge on Italy’s Giacomo Perini, who beat him at the European Championships three weeks ago, and smashing the PR1 men’s single sculls’ best mark by more than four seconds.
More World Best Times were broken by the flying para crews – two of them by Great Britain in the PR2 mixed double sculls and the PR3 mixed coxed four. For their first international competition, the new combination of Jed Altschwager and Nikki Ayers of Australia beat their own mark in the PR3 mixed double sculls – this boat class will make its debut at the Paris 2024 Paralympic games.
Three World Cup Best Times were also set up today. The reigning Olympic Champions of China in the women’s quadruple sculls held off a late charge from Great Britain to keep their winning streak alive. In perhaps more surprising fashion, the new combination for the USA in the women’s four dominated the well-established crews of Great Britain and Australia to earn a gold medal – and a new best mark at World Cup level.
The battle between USA and Great Britain was at its best in the lightweight women’s double sculls, with Olympians Molly Reckford and Michelle Sechser pushing GB’s combination of Imogen Grant and Emily Craig to the bring. But in an amazing sprint to the line, the Brits, who broke the World Best Time in the semifnal on Saturday, managed to get the win by 0.8 seconds over the line.
The best story of the day was undoubtedly the gold medal, on home waters, for Italy in the men’s double sculls. A win that meant more than anything for Luca Rambaldi, on the birthday of his late teammate Filippo Mondelli, who died of cancer two years ago. The USA and China completed the podium.
The two gold medals for Germany came in both the women’s and men’s single sculls, with dominant performances from Alexandra Foester and Oliver Zeidler. The surprise in the men’s single came from Japan’s Ryuta Arakawa, who grabbed a fantastic bronze medal – the first-time ever a Japanese single sculler was awarded a medal at a World Rowing Cup.
The day concluded with the always-anticipated men’s eight, and once again, Great Britain came out fast off the blocks and never looked back. The battle for second was intense, and in front of a packed grandstand in Varese, it was Australia and Germany that got the best of Italy and Canada for the remaining two podium places.
With a gold and two silver medals, Switzerland remains atop the World Rowing Cup standings with 80 points, followed by Great Britain (60 points) and Australia (55 points).
The World Rowing Cup series will conclude in Lucerne, Switzerland from 7 to 9 July.
For race reports, photos, race results and videos go to www.worldrowing.com .