PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY WORLD ROWING
To continue reading…
Register for free to get limited access to the best reporting available.
Free accounts can read one story a month without paying. Register for free
Or subscribe to get unlimited access to the best reporting available. Subscribe
To learn about group subscriptions, click here.
Already a subscriber? Login
Great Britain and the Netherlands won the bulk of the gold medals on offer on day 7 of the World Rowing Championships, with outstanding racing across A and B finals. A number of nations added to their Olympic qualification tallies in the B-finals before the first medals were awarded in Paralympic and Olympic-class events; Britain ended the day on top of the medal table with five golds, followed by the Netherlands with four.
Great Britain open World Championships account
Result: Great Britain, China, Poland
Britain’s Lauren Rowles and Gregg Stevenson were favourites coming into the PR2 mixed double sculls final, after a series of World Best Times this season including in the heat earlier in the week. But China’s Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Liu Shuang and Jiang Jijian were the early leaders, forcing the British to respond in the second quarter of the race.
China kept the pressure on the British duo in the third quarter of the race and made Rowles and Stevenson use all their experience and power to try and pull further ahead. Liu and Jiang kept responding and Great Britain had to sprint hard in order to secure the win by just over 1.5 seconds. It was a great birthday present for Stevenson, who turned 39 on Saturday, in his first world championship final.
Poland’s Jolanta Majka and Michal Gadowski got the better of a race for bronze with the Netherlands despite a slow start.
“I knew as they started pushing back on us we had to go. Today was our day and today was our gold medal. We’ve trained all season for that and we both deserve that more than anything,” said Rowles.
Dominant Brits hold off chasing pack in PR3 Mix4+
Result: Great Britain, USA, Germany
Great Britain have not lost a race in the PR3 mixed coxed four for over a decade, but they were trailing the USA by 0.14 seconds at 500m with Germany not far behind.
As the British responded to coxswain Erin Kennedy’s calls to bring their bows in front, the USA and Germany also kept moving and at halfway margins were still tight, demonstrating how the rest of the world is beginning to put the work in to close the gap on the dominant British.
On this occasion, however, there was no overturning Great Britain. Kennedy and her crew of Francesca Allen, Morgan Fice-Noyes, Giedre Rakauskaite and Edward Fuller kept moving away from the USA, with Germany holding on for bronze despite some fade in the third quarter. For Kennedy, the title held particular emotion as she missed the 2022 World Rowing Championships while being treated for breast cancer.
“I’m actually very shaky. That’s the race you dream about. It’s amazing to have the field so close and pushing us. We had to row our absolute best, and I’m just so proud of the team. They responded to everything I asked, and I asked a lot,” Kennedy said afterwards.
Dutch spoil the Aussie party
Result: Netherlands, Australia, Romania
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: Romania, Ireland, Chile, Australia, Netherlands, USA, Greece, Spain, Great Britain, Lithuania, Czechia
When Australia’s Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre posted an unofficial World Best Time at the Holland Beker Regatta earlier this year they made it clear they were among the leading contenders for gold at the 2023 World Rowing Championships. But Dutch duo Ymkje Clevering and Veronique Meester were also targeting that gold medal, after coming second to New Zealand in Racice last year.
By 500m in Clevering and Meester already held a 1.55 second lead, and they just kept extending it throughout the race. A three-second margin at 1500m was too much for anyone to catch. Morrison and McIntyre took silver, over Ioana Vrinceanu and Roxana Anghel of Romania whose final sprint was not enough to close the gap.
“We felt all the power we had trained for the whole year, and showed a lot of speed. From there we said make the gap bigger, make it bigger. We couldn’t make a really decisive move but piece by piece we went a little further away. The last 500 wasn’t that pretty but we thought keep it solid, row it to the finish line,” said Clevering.
In the B-final, the Greek combination of Evangelia Anastasiadou and Christina Bourmpou went out very hard in the middle of the course and had established a good lead by 500m as the field spread out behind them. Italy were the best of the pack in the first half but faded as Spain came into the picture. Great Britain and Lithuania, steady initially, were able to maintain their pace through the second half to take third and fourth, with Czechia holding on to fifth and Italy missing out on Paris qualification.
Sweet success for Switzerland
Result: Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: Great Britain, Switzerland, USA, Romania, Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Croatia
It was the Irish crew of Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney who led out the men’s pair final, chased by Oliver Wynne-Griffith and Tom George of Great Britain. Switzerland’s Roman Roeoesli and Andrin Gulich put in a huge push in the middle of the race, and were leading at 1500m, with Ireland holding on for second.
Britain then made their move in an attempt to improve on their third place, and as Ireland faded, the British sprinted through for silver. In fact Britain and Switzerland posted identical splits for the final 500m of the race.
Ireland’s bronze was celebrated by their large contingent of fans in the grandstand, and the medal was also worthy of note as Corrigan and Timoney have rowed together since they were young.
“We thought about it quite a lot the last two months, it was definitely the goal that we had, but to be totally honest even if we medalled today I would be totally happy. I’ve never medalled at the world champion elite level, so the first medal being gold, I’m happy,” Gulich said.
Less than three seconds separated the entire field in the men’s pair B-final on the line after an incredible race. Australia led to 1500m but were overtaken in the last quarter by Spain; New Zealand held on to third despite the sprints coming from Italy and Croatia behind them. Denmark’s Olympic bronze medallists Frederic Vystavel and Joachim Sutton had nothing to counter with, and finished sixth and out of Paris contention.
Craig and Grant reign supreme
Result: Great Britain, USA, Romania
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: Great Britain, Romania, China, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Ireland
World Best Time holders and defending champions Emily Craig and Imogen Grant of Great Britain were first to the 500m mark in the lightweight women’s double sculls, despite a poor start, and soon were able to look back on the field behind them.
But the racing was close for the minor medals behind them. From lane 1, the new USA combination of Michelle Sechser and Mary Jones were slowest to 500m but gradually worked their way back through the field to second.
Then it was a three-way battle for bronze between Romania, Canada and New Zealand. The Romanian sprint started bringing them back to the USA and further ahead of Canada and New Zealand. It wasn’t enough to gain silver, but it was certainly enough to secure bronze.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to be able to race against such a highly qualified field, and the changes in who was in that A-final compared to World Cup season and Europeans really shows the work that all the other crews have put in and the work that we’ve had to put in to make sure we cross that finish line first,” Craig said.
The B-final was as exciting as many had hoped. The Greeks were fastest off the blocks, but there was only 1.25 seconds splitting the field at the first marker. By 1000m, Olympic silver medallists Claire Bove and Laura Tarantola of France and Ireland’s Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen were leading, with Poland trying to stay in contention. But then disaster struck; Bove caught a big crab and Ireland were able to scull away to the win and a Paris berth.
Ireland enjoying golden holiday
Result: Ireland, Switzerland, Italy
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: Ireland, Czechia, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Mexico
The lightweight men’s double sculls final was one of the most-anticipated races of the day, with world champions Ireland going head-to-head with Switzerland for the first time in the regatta. At World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Jan Schauble and Raphael Ahumada had beaten the Irish – and early in the race it looked like a repeat might be on the cards.
Ireland were actually fifth to 500m, although little separated the field. Switzerland began their move in the second quarter. However, Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan were not going to let the Swiss have it all their own way. They built speed and had just drawn ahead at 1500m, with the momentum keeping them moving out towards the finish line. Remarkably, the Irish were slowest in the first 500m of the race and then just got faster.
2022 silver medallist Stefano Oppo of Italy, and his new partner Gabriel Soares, also got faster down the course and took bronze. In fact, Italy almost rowed down Switzerland but just ran out of water.
O’Donovan said: “We were both very happy today. We’re in Serbia, we’re on our holidays and the sun’s out. Those three things, life doesn’t get any better than that. Very happy.”
Mexico have never previously qualified a boat in this event for the Olympic Games, but Miguel Carballo and Alexis Lopez were clinical in winning the B-final. They were level with China at 500m but had taken a bit of a lead by halfway, and as China faded and the field came back, Mexico held their heads and took the win.
Result: Netherlands, Romania, Great Britain
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: Netherlands, Romania, Australia, Great Britain, USA, China, New Zealand
Defending world champions Great Britain had an exceptional start to the women’s four final, getting their bows in front early on in what looked like a repeat of their semifinal performance. But this time, the rest of the field knew what was coming.
Last year’s silver medallists the Netherlands stayed with the British, content to sit half a length or so down before shifting in the third quarter. Britain were unable to respond to the move, which was also tracked by Romania – and Romania’s last quarter was stronger than Britain’s, taking them through for silver.
The British bronze was not the hoped-for golden comeback for double women’s pairs Olympic champion Helen Glover, making her second return to rowing after previous breaks before and after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but bow Heidi Long said she believed there was more still to come from the combination.
“It means a lot. We couldn’t believe when we got over the finish – I looked left, I looked right, and it was ‘what? we are first?’” said Benthe Boonstra of the Dutch crew.
New Zealand were the fastest out of the blocks in the B-final of the women’s four and really never looked troubled by the rest of the field, despite the closing sprint from Denmark and Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Ireland. The crew became the first New Zealanders to qualify a boat in this event for the Olympic Games, having missed out for its debut in Tokyo.
Britain maintain men’s four legacy
Result: Great Britain, USA, New Zealand
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: USA, Netherlands, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Romania
Great Britain’s legacy in the men’s four is immense, and this year’s crew successfully defended their 2022 title to keep it going a bit longer.
The British had to remain calm in the opening stages of the race, with the USA, New Zealand and the Netherlands all making good starts. But the crew had taken the lead by 1000m and thereafter were not troubled, extending the margin at each marker. The win was particularly special for Matthew Aldridge and David Ambler; last year, Ambler was subbed in for Aldridge after he caught Covid-19, but this year they were able to win together.
A new USA combination looked strong in taking silver, while New Zealand were comfortable in third. Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions Australia finished fifth.
Aldridge said: “There’s a nice little headwind on the course which slowed everything up a little bit, made the race a little bit longer. It hurt a lot but it was a good place.”
Switzerland rowed a long, loose stroke that took them out to a two-second advantage at the 1500m mark in the B-final. The field started closing up in the last 500m with Romania unleashing one of their trademark sprints, taking them clear through Switzerland to take the win by almost a length.
Another title for Great Britain
Result: Great Britain, Netherlands, China
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: Netherlands, China, Romania, Great Britain, Switzerland, Australia, Germany
The women’s quadruple sculls final was perhaps the race of the day. For much of the course Great Britain and the Netherlands were absolutely level, posting identical splits and speeds and leaving the rest of the field trailing – including China’s Olympic and 2022 world champions.
Coming into the line there was still nothing to call between the Dutch and the British, until the women in white and blue put in a burst that was enough to just pull them ahead. They took the title by 0.67 seconds, the first win in this event for a British crew since 2010.
China won bronze, some five seconds back on the Netherlands, and beating the Swiss who had pushed them off the podium at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne.
“I knew we could do it, I just have so much belief in this crew. I knew we had it as long as we did everything how we know we can do it. We sat on the start line and we were like we’ve done this before, nothing different, we just need to do it again,” said Britain’s Georgina Brayshaw.
Germany have huge pedigree in the women’s quadruple sculls, but have not yet re-found the form of years past. However, they produced an almost perfect row in the B-final of the women’s quadruple sculls, taking the lead before halfway and then controlling the race to claim the Paris qualifying spot with a win.
Dutch end the day on top of the world
Result: Netherlands, Italy, Poland
Boats qualified for Paris 2024: Poland, Netherlands, Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland, Romania
The Netherlands’ men’s quadruple sculls made good on the promise of the early stages of the regatta with a solid, assured performance in the final. Their second quarter was absolutely dominant and the rest of the field were unable to counter the silky Dutch speed.
The battle for the minor medals, however, was electric, with 2022 medallists Poland, Great Britain and Italy all in the mix. First Italy, then Poland looked like they would take silver and Britain seemed to have the momentum for bronze – but it was Italy who found the most speed into the line that took them past Poland for silver.
Poland claimed bronze ahead of a disappointed Great Britain.
Dutch bowman Lennart van Lierop said: “It’s very special to be the best of the world. Maybe it wasn’t even a perfect race. The final gets some extra pressure. It was a hard race, the other crews really put the pressure on us.”
A quality Ukrainian boat led out the men’s quadruple sculls B-final, but by 1000m Romania were pushing back hard and their mid-race speed took them into the lead, with a three-second advantage with 500m to go. That was more than enough to take the win, as Estonia crossed the line second but out of Paris qualification.