PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY WORLD ROWING
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The final day of the 2023 World Rowing Championships delivered one of the most exciting days of racing yet, with fiercely contested races from the D-finals right through to the men’s eight which concluded the week.
It was a hot, largely windless day and times were fast, helping the close racing; in the end, all but one of the finals were won by the defending champions, but arguably pushed harder than ever before. The Netherlands topped the medal table with six golds and three silvers; Great Britain won the same number of golds, plus one silver and two bronze medals.
The PR1 men’s single sculls title went again to Ukraine’s Roman Polianskyi, after he took control by 500m and established an unassailable lead. Italy’s Giacomo Perini and Britain’s Benjamin Pritchard were second and third, as in 2022. In the B-final earlier, the young Uzbek rower Egamberdiev Kholmurod rowed a great race to secure the last remaining qualification place for the Paralympic Games.
PR1 women’s single sculls champion Birgit Skarstein claimed her sixth world title in a row, and afterwards was crying happy tears as she spoke of her love for her Norwegian teammates and the sport. She was joined again on the podium by France’s Nathalie Benoît and Ukraine’s Anna Sheremet, who moved through Israeli Moran Samuel for the medals. Brazilian Claudia Cicero Sabino took out the B-final and the Paralympic qualification spot.
Dutch men’s double sculls crew Melvin Twellaar and Stef Broenink made good on their early-season promise and took the world title in style, with Croatia’s Sinkovic brothers returning to the podium after four years, and Ireland adding another bronze to a great regatta. Moldova was the crew to miss out on Paris qualification in the B-final, won by Romania.
Like the Dutch men, Romania’s Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Radis were the clear pre-regatta favourites in the women’s double sculls, and they also won, but not without pressure from their opponents. Lithuania took a superb silver, 0.11 seconds ahead of the USA. South Africa were the unlucky sixth crew in the B-final, which was won by Italy.
The women’s eight final was a fantastic race taken by Romania after Australia’s fast start, and these two boats headed the field for much of the race. Great Britain, Canada and the USA were fighting for third, but in the closing 500m it was the USA whose speed took them not only clear of the British and Canadians, but also past Australia for silver. Italy were sixth, missing Paris qualification.
Oliver Zeidler of Germany looked supreme in winning a second consecutive men’s single sculls World gold medal, but his effort cost him and he spent some time being tended to on the bank afterwards. Dutchman Simon van Dorp took silver, and Thomas Mackintosh of New Zealand was rewarded with bronze after pushing van Dorp hard and just holding off Greece’s Stefanos Ntouskos. Individual Neutral Athlete Yauheni Zalaty won the B-final to finish seventh overall, with Japan’s Ryuta Arakawa second and Lithuanian Dovydas Nemeravicius seizing third on the line.
The women’s single sculls podium was a repeat of 2022, with Karolien Florijn of the Netherlands winning ahead of New Zealand’s Emma Twigg and Australian Tara Rigney. Kara Kohler of the USA pushed hard in the middle, but could not catch Rigney. Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig, Germany’s Alexandra Foester and Serbian Jovana Arsic picked up the remaining places for Paris 2024 in the B-final.
Australia’s men’s eight led out defending champions Great Britain early in the race, but the British kept cool and their third-quarter move was devastating. The Netherlands sprinted through Australia for silver, with the Aussies hanging on for bronze. The USA missed out on Paris 2024 qualification.
The 2023 World Rowing Championships were 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.