Who to watch at 2015 Under 23 Rowing Champs
As the European hot summer continues the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria is expecting racing under sunny skies and temperatures reaching into the mid to high 30s degrees Celsius.
The World Rowing Under 23 Championships is made up of a large, 21-boat-class schedule which includes open and lightweight boat classes. In the lightweight men's single sculls, 24 countries have entered, but with a couple late withdrawal, only 21 countries will compete. One of these withdrawals is Enes Kusku from Turkey who was a silver medallist at last year's event. But that leaves Francesco Pegoraro, the 2014 bronze medallist from Italy will be up against the European Champion from France, Pierre Houin. The lightweight women's single sculls has attracted the most entries of the women's boat classes. The field is a cross section of new names on the international rowing scene leaving it an open playing field for a new sculler to prove themselves.
The women's single sculls sees fifth-placed from 2014 Elza Gulbe of Latvia lining up. Gulbe has been racing internationally since her junior days in 2010 and has already raced at the senior level including this year's World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Gulbe will be up against Julia Leiding of Germany who was fourth in the women's double sculls at last year's World Rowing Under 23 Championships. Leiding is part of Germany's very strong senior women's sculling group and has already represented her country at the senior level including the World Rowing Cup II this year.
The men's single sculls has a large field entered of 25 scullers, with last year's under-23 silver medallist Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk of Poland likely to rank high.Germany's Philipp Syring is also likely to be among the top. He raced to gold last year at the World Rowing Junior Championships in the men's double sculls and has already competed this year in the single at World Rowing Cup II in Varese. Watch out too for Jack Beaumont of Great Britain. Beaumont was third in the men's double sculls at last year's World Rowing Under 23 Championships and earlier this season won bronze at the European Championships in the men's quadruple sculls.
The women's pair has Jessica Eiffert of the United States (last year's silver medallist) joining with a new partner, Georgia Ratcliff. The US is strong in this boat class and will be a country to watch. Also strong are the Romanians. Madalina Beres of Romania was fourth last year in this boat class and this year she is racing with a new partner, Denisa Tilvescu. Both Beres and Tilvescu raced to third earlier this season in the women's eight at the European Rowing Championships.
Australia and Serbia will face off again in the men's pair. Jack Hargreaves and Nicholas Wheatley of Australia finished second at the 2014 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, while Viktor Pivac and Martin Mackovic of Serbia were third. The Australians warmed up for the under-23 regatta by finishing fifth at World Rowing Cup III earlier this month while Pivac and Mackovic are yet to race internationally this season.
Earlier this season at the senior level Zoe McBride of New Zealand set a new World Best Time in the lightweight women's single sculls. She is also the reigning under-23 World Champion in the lightweight women's double sculls. Back in this boat, McBride will race with Jackie Kiddle as the crew to beat. They will be up against Romania with last year's silver medallist, Ionela-Livia Lehaci racing with new partner Gianina-Elena Beleaga. The duo finished eighth together at this year's European Rowing Championships.
The lightweight men's double sculls has the most entries of all boat classes with 28 nations competing. Many of the names are new, but there are still some stand-out combinations including Daan Klomp and Berend Mortier of the Netherlands. They were part of the sixth-placed lightweight men's quadruple sculls at last year's World Rowing Championships. Peter Csiszar of Hungary was fifth last year in this boat class and with new partner, Bence Szlovak they may be able to rank. Watch out for the new crews from Germany and Italy as these two countries often do well in this boat class.
In the acclaimed women's eight race all of last year's medallists are back. The order of finishing in 2014 was the United States, then Great Britain and then Germany. These crews, with new configurations of rowers, will face each other again and will likely be the ones going for the medals. For the men's eight, the top two boats from 2014 are not racing. This means the battle is likely to come down to the United States and Germany who finished third and fourth respectively last year. Both crews have new configurations, but the passion for eights in these two countries is well known. Keep an eye out too for Italy and Great Britain who both raced in the 2014 under-23 final.
Racing starts with heats on 22 July at 5pm (EEST) and progresses through to finals on 25 and 26 July 2015. Catch all of the action on www.worldrowing.com