New look for British Indoor Championships
A full range of ages and levels competed at the inaugural British Rowing Indoor Championships in London, Great Britain.
Formerly the British Indoor Rowing Championships, British Rowing has now taken over, and for this inaugural event, they chose the London 2012 Olympic velodrome, Lee valley VeloPark, as the venue. The iconic venue turned out to be a promising location with over 1000 spectators and 1300 competitors turning up.
Four big screens with accompanying commentary played over the course of the day's racing which included more than 100 events ranging from elite through to juniors, masters, para-rowing and relays. British Rowing's men's and women's lightweight squad raced in the mixed relay event which attracted a lot of interest from the crowd as well as the competitors who got to race next to Olympic athletes.
Top British Olympians and World Champions then took part in an autograph session that went on for over an hour due to a queue that stretched half-way around the Velodrome.
Lee valley VeloPark hosts the 2015 British Rowing Indoor Championships ©British Rowing
The men from the open 2000m race were especially sought-after for autographs. This race included star-studded selection of Great Britain's elite team racing. World Champion from the men's four, Mohamed Sbihi won the race and clocked a personal best of 5:45.4 with World Champion from the men's eight Will Satch second at 5:48.2. Sam Townsend from the 2014 silver medal men's quadruple sculls was third in a time of 5:49.7, followed by Matt Gotrel and Alex Gregory. Both are current World Champions, Gotrel from the eight and Gregory from the four.
Two para-rowing indoor World Records have fallen this season so far following Canada's indoor rowing championships and Grace Clough made it three when she competed in the para LTA class over 1000m. Clough set the new standard at 3:28.6. This bettered the previous record of 3:30.1 held by Naomi Riches of Great Britain.
“It’s the first time I have been to an indoor event and it is very exciting. There is strong competition from the others I train with in the GB squad, so I had to put in a good performance. It’s good to be the one that came out on top," Clough said in British Rowing's press release.
Clough is going into her third year of para-rowing and has already become a World Champion in the para mixed coxed four.
In the open women's event, Great Britain's Debbie Flood finished first in a time of 6:53.3 ahead of Poland's Julia Michalska Plotkowiak. Both Flood and Michalska are Olympic medallists with Flood taking silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. She retired from international rowing following the London 2012 Olympics. Michalska medalled at the London Olympics and also subsequently retired.
As well as competitors from around Great Britain, the event attracted participants from France, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Germany and British Rowing's marketing manager Ben Wyatt noted: "At one point British Rowing’s event hashtag #BRIC2015 was trending in the UK in the top 7, putting it up alongside Premier League football and a major film awards event – the BAFTAS. The BBC also sent along a TV crew to do a feature on the event."