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 and Paralympic season and make some bold predictions.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls

Best Performance: While their win at the World Championships may have been the season highlight for New Zealand’s Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle, their most stunning performance came a few weeks before at World Rowing Cup III where they led from start to finish. McBride and Kiddle crossed the line almost seven seconds ahead of their closest competition, Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands.

Fastest Time: The fastest time of the season was 6:48.49 set by New Zealand in the semifinals at this year’s World Rowing Championships. With that time, McBride and Kiddle bested the old (2014) World Rowing Championships Best Time by 0.07 seconds. The World Best Time of 6:47.69 set by Paulis and Head in 2016 still stands.

Remember that oh-so-close finish:  Only 0.09 seconds separated first and second in the final at World Rowing Cup II. While China’s Wenyi Huang and Dandan Pan had led early, they gave way to Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini of Italy by the half way mark. The real challenge, however, came almost out of nowhere as New Zealand moved up and up throughout the race to cross the line a fraction of a second ahead of Italy.

Saturday Podiums at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz Ottensheim © Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com


The winning streak: Taking their first gold in their first appearance of 2019 at World Rowing Cup II, New Zealand just kept winning race after race adding World Rowing Cup III and then the World Rowing Championships to their streak.

Must watch: With New Zealand’s strength on display and a battle raging the entire way between the Netherlands, Great Britain, Romania and France for the remaining podium positions, the final of the World Rowing Championships is the race to watch from the 2019 season. Watch it here.

Quote of the year: “This is surreal. We’ve been waiting a long time for this, and last year was a bit of a disappointment. I am absolutely stoked!” Jackie Kiddle (s), New Zealand, Gold at the 2019 World Rowing Championships

Olympic qualifiers: Seven at the World Rowing Championships (NZL, NED, GBR, ROU, FRA, BLR, ITA); one at the African Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta (TUN). The remaining ten women’s berths will be decided in the coming months at three additional continental qualifier regattas as well as the Final Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta.

The Olympic prediction: The simple prediction is that New Zealand is in the strongest position as crews focus their training ever more specifically on Tokyo 2020. While history has shown in this event, that the pre-Olympic World Champions do not always make it to the Olympic podium, McBride and Kiddle could be poised to continue their 2019 streak right into 2020.

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls

Best Performance: After a rocky start in the final of the World Rowing Championships, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy of Ireland charged from last place at the first 500 metre mark to first in the race’s second half earning Ireland gold for the second time in as many years. Denied victory by a mere 0.03 seconds at World Rowing Cup III, the Irish duo came out fighting to overcome the field in the season’s top performance.

Fastest Time: Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta of Italy posted 6:13.30 as the fastest on-water 2000m of 2019 in the semifinals at the World Rowing Championships. The standing World Best Time is 6:05.36, set in 2014 by James Thompson and John Smith of South Africa.

Remember that oh-so-close finish: Following close on the back-to-back wins at the 2019 European Rowing Championships and World Rowing Cup II, Germany’s Jonathan Rommelmann and Jason Osborne pulled off an incredible surge in the final quarter of the World Rowing Cup III final to defend their streak. The result was a photo finish showing Germany just 0.03 seconds ahead of Ireland, who had led the entire race up to that point.

The winning streak: Without question, Germany’s three-peat wins at the European Rowing Championships and World Rowing Cup II and III was the streak of the season.

Must watch: The final of World Rowing Cup III is the race to watch with exceptional rowing across the entire field. It includes Germany’s powerful resurgence in the final stretch and that remarkable photo finish with only 0.03 seconds between gold and silver. Watch here.

Quote of the year: “We couldn’t quite believe it but it’s always really nice to win. Our start wasn’t great but we finished well. We will take a lot of confidence with this moving forward.” Paul O'Donovan (s), Ireland, Gold at the 2019 World Rowing Championships

Olympic qualifiers: Seven at the World Rowing Championships (IRL, ITA, GER, NOR, ESP, POL, BEL); one at the African Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta (ALG). The remaining ten berths will be decided in the coming months at three additional continental qualifier regattas as well as the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.

The Olympic prediction: Even with only one O’Donovan in the boat this season, Ireland have shown themselves to be the crew to beat. An Irish win at Tokyo 2020 is, however, far from certain with major challenges coming from Germany, whose dominance throughout the season is a sign of what’s in store next year, and Italy, who were always right there near the front collecting silver after silver including at the World Rowing Championships.