A World Championship of World Best proportions - Memories of Seville
A huge white mast-like structure represents one of the most famous bridges in the world and it looms straight after the finish line of the Rio Guadalquivir Rowing Course in Seville, Spain. The Alamillo Bridge crosses over the Canal de Alfonso XIII and later this month the 2013 European Rowing Championships will take place here.
This is not the first time top rowing has come to Seville. Just over 11 years ago the 2002 World Rowing Championships set the rowing world on fire with performances that saw six new World Best Times being set and some of the most iconic names in rowing competing. Some of those names remain racing today and will be part of the line-up at the European Rowing Championships.
For those watching from the banks of the Guadalquivir in 2002, they were treated to a men’s pair race which had all top four boats breaking the previous World Best Time. In the lead was the famed British duo of Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell. Pinsent broke his own World Best Time, set eight years prior when he was rowing in the pair with Steve Redgrave. The fast-paced race had South Africa in second and Croatia in third with arguably the favoured crew, James Tomkins and Drew Ginn of Australia, missing out of the medals in fourth.
Pinsent and Cracknell’s record would remain for another ten years until it was broken at the 2012 Olympic Games by Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand. Tomkins and Ginn would go on to become the 2004 Olympic Champions in this event.
The record books were rewritten in both the men’s and women’s single sculls. Breaking away to a huge lead in the women’s single, Rumyana Neykova of Bulgaria obliterated the field and set a World Best Time of 7:07.71 which still stands to this day. Neykova beat her regular rivals, Ekaterina Karsten (BLR) and Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski (GER). Two years later Rutschow-Stomporowski executed a similar dominating performance to become the Olympic Champion.
Germany’s Marcel Hacker was king for a day when he became the World Champion in the men’s single and set a new World Best Time. Hacker’s time broke the former World Best Time which had been set by Rob Waddell (NZL).
All top four crews in the men’s four beat the former World Best Time with first place going to Germany’s Sebastian Thormann, Paul Dienstbach, Philipp Stueer and Bernd Heidicker. Just 0.25 of a second back were Great Britain with Italy in third. Germany would go on to win the overall points trophy at these World Rowing Championships with five gold medals included in their success.
The women’s double sculls also had all top four crews going under the former World Best Time. New Zealand’s 22-year-old identical twins, Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell finished first to score their first ever World Championship title. The Evers-Swindells’ time of 6:38.78 remains the fastest ever rowed in the double to this day. The Russian double was second and Italy finished in third.
The remarkable Romanian duo of Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu set a new World Best Time in the women’s pair. Andrunache and Susanu had already established a name for themselves by teaming up the previous year and taking the 2001 World Championship gold medal. When they would line up at the start of the pair, all other crews would turn their aims to the silver medal.
In the lightweight men’s double sculls Italy’s duo of Elia Luini and Leonardo Pettinari had been on a winning streak all year and they capped it off with the World Championship gold medal in front of very appreciative fans who had travelled to Seville to watch their heroes. Luini and Pettinari’s win left the reigning Olympic Champions, Poland (Tomasz Kucharski and Robert Sycz) in second with the 2012 Olympic Champions, Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist taking the bronze.
The 2002 World Rowing Championships saw an historic first for Para-rowing. This was the first time the formerly named ‘adaptive’ rowing had been raced as a World Championship event. For this inaugural event the men’s and women’s adaptive single sculls events (TA1x) were combined into one race where Angela Madsen of the United States took second place. Scott Brown, also of the United States, was first.
Madsen and Brown went on to team up in the mixed double, the TAmix2x, and went on to win the next four World Rowing Championships. Madsen has also rowed more than one ocean and both of them competed at the first Paralympic Games where Para-rowing was included, the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
More race footage from the 2002 World Rowing Championships is available here.
The 2013 European Rowing Championships will be streamed live on World Rowing TV. Watch out for streaming times on www.worldrowing.com.