BY ED WINCHESTER
PHOTO BY IGOR MEIJER
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2020 World Rowing Indoor Championships
Ukraine’s Olena Buryak successfully defended her open women’s title at the 2020 World Rowing Indoor Championships February 8-9 in Paris, but she wasn’t exactly elated with the outcome. “I’m not super happy with the result, but I am happy to be first,” she said after finishing nearly 15 seconds ahead of silver medalist Helene Lefebre of France. The gap between first and second wasn’t Buryak’s issue. It was the space between her winning time at Coubertin Stadium and her world record of 6:22.8 that she was hoping to break this year. The open men’s contest was a decidedly tighter affair, with Russia’s Alexander Vyazovkin turning in a 5:43.5 2k to edge Swiss national team member Barnabe Delarze by a mere 1.7 seconds. The win was a big one for the 22-year-old, who finished sixth in the men’s single at the 2019 world under-23 championships. In the open lightweight men’s event, Pierre Houin—one half of the Olympic champion French lightweight double—paced the field in front of a partisan crowd in Paris. Houin’s winning time of 6:06.5 was nearly four seconds quicker than countryman Thibault Colard’s finishing mark. “It’s very different from the on-water competition because you are both looking at the numbers on the screen and your competitors beside you,” said Houin, who finished fourth in the C final at last year’s worlds in Austria. (Martino Goretti’s win streak—2019 world champion in the light single; 2020 European indoor champion—ended in Paris, with the Italian taking third overall in the event.) The women’s under-23 contest was another tight one, with Margaux Bailleul, a member of the 12th-place French women’s quad at the 2019 worlds, taking first in 6:49.9. She was followed by fellow French national teamer Adele Brosse, who finished 3.1 seconds back for silver.“I was so focused on that race from the start,” offered Bailleul after the fact. “I got out in front towards the end, which was the goal.” Belgium’s Ward Lemmelijin finished atop the under-23 men’s field with an impressive 5:48.3 Danish entrant Magnus Zier was well back of the winner, finishing in 6:00.7. “I had a good race today,” said Lemmelijin, who also took gold in the under-23 500-meter event a day earlier. “This race was two seconds faster than last year, and I think that’s because with my coach we really worked on the first 1,000 meters this past year.” In the under-23 lightweight women’s race, Poland’s Kladia Pankratiew edged French national team sculler Claire Bove by just over two seconds to take gold in 7:15.4. Although Pankratiew owned the day in Paris, the two are on different trajectories at the moment, with Bove having qualified the French lightweight women’s double for Tokyo 2020 on the strength of a fifth-place showing at the 2019 world championships. Pankratiew’s most recent international result, meanwhile, was 12th lightweight women’s double at the 2018 under-23 worlds. In the junior events, Germany’s Alexandra Foester, the reigning world junior women’s single champion, edged Lou-Ann Caniard of France by half a second to take gold in 6:51.3. “The first half of that last 500 I didn’t think I could do it, but I pulled ahead [in] the last 250,” said Foester. On the junior men’s side, Leo Muiste of Estonia claimed first in an equally tight contest. When the dust had settled, just 0.6 seconds separated Muiste from second-place Mekhrojbek Mamatkulov of Uzbekistan. The Estonian’s winning time was 6:02. In the para-rowing events, Italy’s Lorenzo Bernard took the men’s PR3 contest, with Kate Jones of Great Britain claiming women’s PR3 gold. Dutch competitor Corne de Koning took top honors in the men’s PR2 event, while Perle Bouge of France took the women’s PR2 contest, setting a new world indoor record in the process. French athletes Pascal Daniere and Nathalie Benoit, meanwhile, earned gold in the men’s and women’s PR1 events.