Names of the future stand out at European Rowing Junior Champs
The European Rowing Junior Championships in Gravelines, France over the weekend was a showcase of Europe’s up and coming talent. For some of the competitors, it was also the first step along an Olympic pathway.
Four of this year’s boat classes doubled as 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) qualifiers: women’s and men’s single sculls and women’s and men’s pairs. Three remaining qualification spots were available in each of the singles while just one entry was on the line in each pairs race. Since many nations had already qualified at last year’s World Rowing Junior Championships, the YOG berths were on offer to the fastest crew(s) not yet qualified.
The finals for these four events were particularly exciting with some of the closest finish times of the regatta.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
Spain’s Esther Briz Zamorano lead from start to finish, crossing the line with a clear and uncontested lead, taking gold in a quick 7:41.64. While Briz made it look easy, the race for silver was a much tighter battle, where scullers from Italy (Greta Martinelli), Switzerland (Jana Nussbaumer) and Slovenia (Ilaria Macchi) pushed into the fight for the final two places. Despite a strong first 500, Slovenia had fallen to fourth by the thousand and the race was on for Italy and Switzerland to decide who would stand where on the podium after Spain. Martinelli finished in 7:45.63, just narrowly ahead of Switzerland (7:45.95).
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
An even narrower margin separated second from third in this final. The winning sculler, Germany’s Moritz Wolff, cruised to gold seemingly unconcerned, posting a time of 7:21.74. In Wolff’s wake a four-boat race unfolded early on as Kai Schaetzle (SUI), Gabriel Mahler (CZE), Ivan Brynza (BLR), and Ivan Corsunov (MDA) jockeyed for position through the first half of the race. From 1000m onward, though, it was Mahler and Brynza breaking away and exchanging the lead a few times before crossing the line just 0.06 seconds apart – Brynza (7:26.34) and Mahler (7:26.40).
“It was a much faster race than I expected. I thought I was second, but I didn’t have any power left for the last push.” – Gabriel Mahler
Women’s Pair (W2-)
There was no contest for gold as the Greek duo of Mario Kyridou and Christina Bourmpou jumped out to a commanding lead and kept on moving confidently away from the field. Iris Klock and Jesy Vermeer of the Netherlands were briefly in the silver position but fell back to fourth as Romania’s Tabita Maftei and Alina-maria Baletchi and Lithuania’s Vytaute Urbonaite and Kamile Kralikaite powered through the rest of the field to take silver and bronze.
“I was very anxious before the race. The wind was so strong and then it changed direction; but when I heard the start, all the anxiety left me and I was ready to race.” – Christina Bourmpou
Men’s Pair (M2-)
In a familiar sight for elite rowing fans, a set of brothers from Croatia were dominant in small boat racing. Patrik and Anton Loncaric demonstrated that their World Rowing Junior Championship win last August was only the start of what this duo hope to accomplish together in the sport. But victory today was not a sure thing and the brothers fell back to a resurgent Romania in the third quarter of the race. While the Loncarics came back to take gold, Florin Arteni-Fintinariu and Iulian Nestian (ROU), who had a rough start and clawed back from 6th to within striking distance of gold, sent a clear message: the Romanians are coming. The Italian crew of Simone Fasoli and David Comini rounded out the podium
“After our World (Rowing Junior) Championship race, it was the best race we’ve had,” - Patrik Lonarc
World Rowing and Olympic Solidarity have a long history of working together to support competitors and coaches from smaller rowing nations attending international camps and competitions. This year’s European Rowing Junior Championships was one such event and a number of rowers were able to make the journey to benefit from World Rowing (FISA) coaching expertise and represent their nation at this event.
The significance of this opportunity was not lost on Anastasia Serghienco, who represented Moldova, in the women’s single.
“I feel very good, very happy. This is a very important page in my life to be able to represent Moldova in an international event. I would want to take part in other events and improve my times,” said Serghienco.
Cypriot sculler Andrei Nechita probably had the most to celebrate, finishing 16th out of 25 in the men’s single in one of his first international races.
“It was my second time outside Cyprus. The development coaching programme is brilliant and I am thankful to the organisers. I want to keep training hard and my goal is to become the best rower in the world,” said Nechita.
RESULTS (YOG European provisional qualifiers in bold*)
JW1x ESP, ITA, SUI, SLO, FRA, BEL (EST finished 3rd in the B-final and also qualified for the YOG)
JM1x GER, BLR, CZE, SUI, MDA, UKR
JW2- GRE, ROU, LTU, NED, CRO, SLO
JM2- CRO, ROU, ITA, LTU, BLR, CZE
JW2x FRA, ITA, RUS, CZE, EST, LTU
JM2x GBR, ITA, BLR, BEL, CZE, GRE
JW4 + UKR, FRA
JM4+ ITA, RUS, UKR, FRA, CRO
JW4- ROU, ITA, DEN, SUI, CRO
JM4- ITA, ROU, SRB, GRE, ESP, DEN
JW4x CZE, SUI, ROU, RUS, ITA, BLR
JM4x CZE, ROU, FRA, DEN, POL, ITA
JW8+ CZE, ROU, BLR, RUS, ITA
JM8+ RUS, ITA, FRA, CZE, POL, ROU
*The National Rowing Federations and National Olympic Committees of countries, whose crews have provisionally qualified, now have two weeks to make an official decision to accept the qualification slot.
There is one remaining continental qualification regatta that will take place in Africa in July.
Event information and full results for the European Rowing Junior Championships here.
YOG Qualification process.