Podrazil closes on World Record at European Rowing Indoor Championships
Almost 1000 competitors descended on the Kralovka Hall in Prague, Czech Republic on Saturday 11 January for the 2020 European Rowing Indoor Championships.
With events ranging from juniors, under 17 to masters ages 80-84 and everything in between, the days was full of excitement.
The Czech national rowing team put forward some of their strongest members in hopes of medals. In the men’s open event, Jakub Podrazil did not disappoint. Podrazil, standing at a towering 200cm (6 foot 7 inches) tall, finished in a world-class time of 5:42.9 for the 2000m race. This is 97.9 per cent of the World Record, which currently stands at 5:35.8 (Josh Dunkley-Smith). Podrazil has recently competed on-water in the men’s pair together with Lukas Helesic. Helesic, finished sixth at the event in a time of 6:04.2. The duo has had mixed results on the water over the last few seasons, but have a handful of medals to their names. They will be looking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games at the Final Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland in May.
Coming in behind Podrazil in the men’s open event were Anders Backeus of Sweden in a time of 5:49.2 and Petr Ourednicek from the Czech Republic in 5:55.3. To the disappointment of fans, the anticipated appearance of Olympian and World Champion Ondrej Synek did not ensue. Synek withdrew his entry before the draw.
The Czech team also pulled off a win the women’s open event when Marie Jurkova won in an impressive 6:43.8. This is 94.7 per cent of the World Record time, which is currently held by Olena Buryak at 6:22.8. Jurkova is 21 and competed recently at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in the women’s quadruple sculls. Finishing just a few seconds behind her was Polish rower Anna Wierzbowska in a time of 6:46.5. Wierzbowska has been a regular in the top Polish women’s sweeping boats, the women’s four and women’s pair. Finishing third was another Czech rower, Radka Novotnikova in a time of 6:57.8.
The day’s events also included PR1, PR2 and PR3 para-rowing classifications. The men’s PR1 event saw Zsolt Peto from Hungary finish in a time of 8:28.6 to win gold ahead of a five-rower field. And in one of the closest races of the day, Milan Lackovic from Slovakia beat Robert Niesyczynski from Poland by just 0.5 seconds in the men’s PR3 category. The field was slightly more spread in the women’s PR3 category with Russian Valentina Zhagot taking the gold medal in a time of 7:39.5.
One of the closest races of the day was in the men’s lightweight event. Italy’s Martino Goretti took the top spot, finishing in a time of 6:10.4, just 1.2 seconds ahead of Spain’s Patricio Rojas Aznar, who was in turn just 0.2 seconds ahead of Poland’s Jerzy Kowalski. All three of these scullers competed in the 2019 on-water season, with Martino Goretti becoming 2019 World Champion in the lightweight men’s single sculls.
In the women’s lightweight event, Germany dominated when Marion Reichardt won in a time of 7:12.6 and Johanna Reichardt took silver with 7:20.9. Third went to Joana Branco of Portugal, who finished in 7:27.0.
The European Rowing Indoor Championships provide a stepping stone to the World Rowing Indoor Championships, which are set to take place from 7-8 February, 2020 in Paris, France. For more information, here.