In Wroclaw, Poland, Buryak knew that she was on target for record time when she set the 500m record in training a week ago. Breaking her own record today, Buryak set the standard at 1:24.5 for 500m.

Buryak led from the start in the 500m race starting out at a 50 stroke rate pace. Sweden’s Cecilia Velin followed in second and kept a higher stroke rate. The margin remained close between Buryak and Velin as Buryak took her stroke rate to 46 against Velin’s 52. Then Poland’s Anna Wierzbowska, who had been sitting in third, overtook Velin and with less than 150m to row, Wierzbowska was firmly in second.

“I’ve had stomach flu since Friday and I thought this was going to be a disaster,” said Wierzbowska who finished in a time of 1:26.8. “The finish was the worst. I was so sore, because I started out very strong and then just had to hang on for the last 50m.” Wierzbowska is preparing for the World Rowing Championships in September and now goes to a training camp.  

“It was a hard race,” Velin admitted. “I went out very fast and the last 200m was very, very tough.” Velin started rowing at the end of 2015 after competing as a kayaker. Her finishing time of 1:27.0 was not her personal best.

“She said that she was aiming to beat me,” said Buryak about Velin. “But I decided not. I wanted to win. In the last 100m I just rowed my maximum.”

Buryak hoped that setting the record would make it difficult for someone to break it. “Here there are people who don’t row (on the water) and they do indoor rowing very well. But I don’ think (my record) will be broken next year. Maybe in the next five or ten years.”

Buryak is married to Pawel Shurmei who finished third in the men’s 500m. “Sometimes he is my inspiration. He’s 12 years older and at 41 he can do this!”

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In the men’s 500m race Anton Bondarenko of Ukraine took an early lead rating 50 strokes per minute. Vaclav Zitta of the Czech Republic, on the machine next to Bondarenko, rated 64 then 56 choosing a half-slide, high-rating method to keep him in second. Phil Clapp of Great Britain was in third. Clapp then pushed past Zitta with Shurmei of Belarus moving up.

Bondarenko won in a time of 1:12.1, less than two seconds outside of the World Record. Clapp came through in second in a time of 1:12.9 and Shurmei was third at 1:14.1. Zitta and Poland’s Bartosz Zablocki were both just a fraction of a second back.

Clapp admitted that the race was painful. “It’s so good to have this many good athletes together. The 2k yesterday was great, the event is well organised – hopefully more people will make the effort to qualify next time now that they’ve seen the first event has been so good.”

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The competition finished off with a 4x500m relay which mixed up countries and genders and rankings to create fair teams. Team five, of the 14 teams, led at the start with 2000m winner Oliver Zeidler of Germany getting his team out in front. Then team six took over in the lead as Graham Benton of Great Britain handed the erg to Sebastian Adamovici of Romania. Coming into the third 500m team 13 was gaining with 500m winner, Anton Bondarenko taking the handle. Winner of the women’s 2000m lightweight event, Anna Berger of Austria was next up and Bondarenko handed her the handle having built up a sizeable lead.

Behind team 13, team 3, 5 and 6 were neck-and-neck. Then in the final sprint team 5 (which included Austrian’s Magdalena Lobnig and Mario Santer) was catching up to team 13. With 50m left to row team 5 overtook team 13, At the end their time was 5:44.7. Team 13 finished in second with 5:48.1. There was a tie for third between team 3 and 4 with a time of 5:50.1