PHOTO BY LISA WORTHY | STORY BY WORLD ROWING
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The first medals were handed out at the 2023 World Rowing Championships in Belgrade on Friday, after more crews qualified their boats for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games on a blustery Lake Sava. The morning’s A/B semifinals brought exciting racing, with the top three crews in each race booking tickets to the A-final and also to Paris.
The PR1 men’s single sculls semifinals saw a close head-to-head race between Italy’s Giacomo Perini and reigning world and Paralympic champion Roman Polanskyi of Ukraine, with Britain’s Benjamin Pritchard taking the second semifinal win.
Double Olympic bronze medallist Damir Martin of Croatia raced himself to his fourth OIympic Games in the men’s single sculls, also securing a spot in his first A-final since the Tokyo 2020 final two years ago. Defending world champion Oliver Zeidler of Germany and Olympic champion Stefanos Ntouskos of Greece are also safely through. Lithuania’s Viktorija Senkute has never previously reached a major final, but she did so today in the women’s single sculls with a great row. Olympic champion Emma Twigg also qualified, to reach her fifth Olympic Games.
The Sinkovic brothers of Croatia also gave themselves a chance at their fourth Olympic Games after winning the second semifinal of the men’s double sculls. But the Dutch crew look incredibly strong ahead of Sunday’s final. Romania are the form crew in the women’s double sculls and they added another win, a place in the final and an Olympic place to their achievements. The USA won the other semifinal, and Lithuania, New Zealand, Ireland and France complete the finalists.
The repechages of the men’s and women’s eights both had incredible sprint finishes. Romania went past Germany in the men’s event, with both progressing to the final, and Australia overturned Great Britain by 0.05 seconds in the women’s race.
Switzerland’s Andri Struzina became the first world champion of 2023 in the lightweight men’s single sculls after a patient race, rowing through Italian Niels Torre. In the lightweight women’s single sculls there were three first-time medallists: Ireland’s Siobhan McCrohan consolidated a comeback after seven years out to win, with Mexico’s Kenia Lechuga second and the USA’s Sophia Luwis third.
Cornelis de Koning won the PR2 men’s single sculls for a fourth championships in a row to give the Netherlands their first medal. The PR3 mixed double sculls was won by World Best Time holders Nikki Ayers and Jed Altschwager of Australia, ahead of the USA, with France taking bronze after a battle with Great Britain. Germany also qualified for the Paralympic Games with fifth.
As in 2022, Italy swept the non-Olympic lightweight boat classes, taking the wins in the lightweight men’s and lightweight women’s pairs and lightweight men’s quadruple sculls. And the day finished with two gold medals for Ukraine, in the PR3 men’s pair and PR2 women’s single sculls.
The A-Finals for all 27 boat classes continue tomorrow and Sunday, 10 September. Entries, Startlists, Results, editorial images, and more can be found here. You can also re-watch today’s racing here.
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.
About the World Rowing Championships
The senior World Rowing Championships are held every year at the end of the international rowing season and World Champions are crowned in 14 Olympic boat classes – seven for men and seven for women, as well as six International boat classes for lightweight rowers. Para-rowers compete in nine boat classes, five are Paralympic boat classes.