The Americas race to be at Youth Olympic Games
Less than two years after a devastating fire tore through Chile’s premier Olympic rowing training facility at Curauma, the undaunted Chilean rowing community played host to a continental festival of rowing last week. Junior internationals from across South and Central America and the Caribbean islands came together to train and face off in a series of major events that highlighted many future rowing stars.
With the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) just months away, the YOG Continental Qualification Regatta for the Americas took centre stage. Four events (singles and pairs for men and women) were identified as YOG qualifiers from within the larger slate of races that made up the Pan American & South American Junior and South American Under 23 Rowing Championships.
Like their Olympic and Paralympic equivalents at the senior level, results at the five YOG continental qualifiers (Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and for the first time Oceania), along with the preceding year’s World Rowing Junior Championships, determine which nations will get to race at October’s YOG in Argentina.
World Rowing (FISA), and Olympic Solidarity in cooperation with the Continental Confederation and the host Organising Committee teamed up to provide a major development camp in the days before racing. The Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) was an essential aspect with its focus on Olympism and sport as a school for life.
Men’s and women’s single sculls
While Peruvian Angel Batton finished with a lead of three seconds in the men’s single, the race saw a tough battle for the remaining steps on the podium with little more than one second separating silver, bronze and fourth place. Alexi Carballosa Ramirez of Cuba crossed the line for silver with Uruguay’s Martin Gonzales edging out Brazillian Marco Van Blarcum de Graff Misasi for the final podium position.
“To win the single was incredible”, says Batton. “This was a very hard regatta.”
The final of the women’s single was a different picture, leaving no one in doubt as Argentine sculler Maria Sol Ordas dominated the field. She finished 12 and 19 seconds respectively ahead of silver and bronze placing Chile (Antonia Liewald Hesie) and Mexico (Mildred Belem Mercado Palacios).
“We have been working for a long time towards Buenos Aires 2018”, says Ordas. “I am happy to have qualified the boat and more than anything to win and become Pan American and South American champion.”
Men’s and women’s pair
Chile pressed their home-course advantage to claim victory in both pair events and clinch the only YOG qualifying spot in each race.
Isidora Niemeyer and Cristina Hostetter were rightly pleased with their win in the women’s race. “I am very proud, happy and will continue to train to reach the YOG, says Niemeyer
Her partner, Hostetter, emphasised the hard work and focus: “Finally the moment came and we did what we have been training to do all along)”
Their sentiment was mirrored by the Chilean men’s pair where Nicolas Tapia and José Obando, vowed to keep up their efforts to be ready for the Buenos Aires YOG: “Now we will fight to be in the boat.”
A FINALS RESULTS (YOG Americas qualifiers in bold)
JM1x PER, CUB, URU, BRA, CHI, BAH
JW1x ARG*, CHI**, MEX, GUA, CUB, PER
JW2- CHI**, MEX, ARG, PER, URU, CUB
JM2- CHI, URU, CUB, PAR, BRA
*Since Argentina won this event, their guaranteed YOG host nation entry in the JW1x will be reallocated to the next best-ranked nation in this event not yet qualified from the Americas Continental Qualification Regatta; Guatemala’s National Olympic Committee will therefore have the chance to confirm the boat.
**Since each nation is limited to one boat per gender at the YOG, Chile has now to choose which women’s event they will field. Whichever event Chile does not choose will be reallocated to the next best-ranked nation in this event not yet qualified from the Americas Continental Qualification Regatta.
Two remaining YOG continental qualification events will take place in the coming months: Europe in May and Africa in July.
More information on the YOG Rowing Qualification Regatta for the Americas here
YOG qualification process here
YOG Qualification Summary here