The racing for both the women and men was close throughout the season, but clear favourites are emerging in the road to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

World Rowing continues its series of looking back on the 2019 rowing season with all of its drama and excitement. We also look towards the 2020 Olympic season and make some bold predictions.

Women’s Double Sculls

Best Performance: With two narrow come-from-behind victories to mark their two international appearances, New Zealand’s Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe success was anything but certain. Their win at the World Rowing Championship in particular was an incredible lesson in patience as the duo simply out-paced their competition as crew after crew fell back.

Fastest Time: At the World Rowing Championships, New Zealand raced to gold in 6:47.17, just ten seconds down on the World Best Time. The World Best Time of 6:37 has been held by Australia since 2014.

Remember that oh-so-close finish: The final at the World Rowing Championships was the fastest and also one of the most exciting races of the year. Bows surged and first one then another crew were leading with early leaders Canada and the United States falling back and out of the medals by mere fractions of a second. Donoghue and Loe won, Romania clocked 6:48.55 for silver, the Netherlands took bronze in 6:49.22, only 0.63 seconds ahead of Canada with the United States just 0.01 seconds behind them.

The winning streak: Although New Zealand’s two wins saw them atop more podiums than any other crew this season, no nation was able to put together a string of victories through 2019.

Must watch: The final at the World Rowing Championships. A master class in strategy. New Zealand raced the clock and everyone else raced New Zealand. With near-perfect pacing, Donoghue and Loe found their rhythm off the line and simply got faster and faster from there. Watch here.

Quote of the year: “That was all a bit of a blur. We really took control in the middle of the race. That was always the plan. I never tried to look out the boat so I had to assume everyone was behind me. This title will be great for our confidence.” – Olivia Loe, gold, World Rowing Championships

Olympic qualifiers: New Zealand, Romania, the Netherlands, Canada, United States, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Lithuania, China, Australia

The Olympic prediction: With two World Rowing Championship golds and one silver over the last three years, New Zealand’s Donoghue and Loe must be strong contenders. The field, however, is too close for any comfort. Romania, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States are all in striking range. After this year’s close racing, this is without doubt going to be an event to watch in Tokyo.

Sunday Podiums at the.2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz Ottensheim, Austri © Detlev Seyb/


Men’s Double Sculls

Best Performance: China’s Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang raced on the World Rowing circuit only twice. They climbed their first podium at World Cup I in Plovdiv, Bulgaria with a brilliant second thousand, moving from second into first and holding on. It was their second race, however, that was the show stopper. Zhang and Lui led from start to finish in the final of the World Rowing Championships.

Fastest Time: At the World Rowing Championships, China posted the fastest time this season; 6:05.68. The World Best Time of 5:59.72 was set by Croatian brothers Martin and Valent Sinkovic at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam.

Remember that oh-so-close finish: The European Rowing Championships where Poland held onto their lead to take gold only 0.09 seconds ahead of an almost unstoppable finishing surge from Switzerland. Romania was only 0.36 seconds behind them in bronze position.

The winning streak: Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli of Switzerland put together back-to-back victories at World Rowing Cup II and III for this season’s longest streak. Croatia’s Sinkovic brothers, however, still hold the longest streak in recent rowing history in this boat class.

Must watch: While the World Rowing Championships final is worth a watch for the exceptional racing from the top crews, the final of World Rowing Cup II was a battle of a race with yet another tight finish. Watch here.

Quote of the year: “It was such a tough race for us, every team had competed with all their energy. World Championship means a lot to us, to the whole team CHN. But we will keep improving our weak side for Tokyo.” Liang Zhang, China, gold, World Rowing Championships

Olympic qualifiers: China, Ireland, Poland, Great Britain, Switzerland, Romania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, France, Germany, Lithuania

The Olympic prediction: With a strong performance at the opening World Cup and an even stronger race at the World Rowing Championships and the experience of Zhang, China is the crew to watch. But can they stay ahead of the pack? Securing the first Olympic gold for China in this event won’t be easy. There’s a resurgent Ireland, a determined Poland and a strong Switzerland all displaying top-of-the-podium potential.