Time now for the 2ndRowing World Cup. If the 1stWorld Cup of the season had one of the lowest ever entries, the 2nditeration has one of the highest. With over 800 athletes competing it’s the largest field for a 2ndWorld Cup since 2011. Poznan last hosted a World Cup in 2017 and is one of the most popular courses on the circuit.
So, without further ado let’s have a look at the entries.
A huge field that sees almost all the key players taking to the water. The most mouth-watering contest looks to be the showdown between the new wunderkind of the single sculling scene, Oliver Zeidler from Germany and New Zealand’s Robbie Manson. Zeidler won the European Championships at the beginning of the month, and has made a huge impact since taking up the sport less than 2 years ago. He made the A-Final at the World Championships in his first year of senior competition and at just 22 year of age could well dominate the event for the next decade or more.
Oliver Ziedler (Right) and Robbie Manson (Centre). Photo: World Rowing
Robbie Manson is the holder of the World Best Time (6:30.7 set at this World Cup in 2017). He won the Kiwi M1X berth by comprehensively defeating Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale during the New Zealand summer season. Since moving to the single scull in 2017, Manson has won every World Cup regatta he’s entered. But, crucially he’s yet to deliver on the biggest stage ending up 5that both the 2017 and 208 World Championships.
Norway’s defending World Champion, Kjetil Borch, has had a relatively quiet start to the season. His first race of 2019 saw him place 9thoverall at the European Championships. But, by his own admission he is still a long way from race fitness having had surgery to his knee earlier in the year. His aims for Poznan will be to maintain his upward progression and target the World Championships as a return to full fitness. But Poznan will be a good marker for how far along the road to recovery he is.
Another exciting sculler to watch is Cuba’s mercurial Angel Fournier Rodriguez. The 2017 World silver medallist is making his first appearance since the 2ndWorld Cup of 2018 and is another athlete returning to full fitness following injury.
One athlete who has made a strong start to their 2019 season is Pilip Pavukouof Belarus. Up until this year the best result for the 2015 U23 World Champion in his senior career was a 5thplace at the 2017 World Cup in Lucerne. But, so far in 2019 he has a silver medal from the 1stWorld Cup and a bronze from the European Championships just 4/10thof a second behind the gold medal. Could this be the start of the breakthrough year for Pavukou?
Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk has had a busy season so far this year. The 24 year-old was a member of the winning Cambridge Blue Boat in April and then raced the M1X at the European Championships finishing down in the C-Final. He was back at Cambridge last week rowing for his college at the Cambridge May Bumps. This time away from the M1X has undoubtedly had a detrimental impact on his sculling, but he will be looking to re-establish his form in the small boat and progress from his performance at the Europeans.
Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk. Photo Theboatraces.org
Great Britain have 2 scullers racing in Poznan, each vying for the M1X spot for the World Championships. Tom Barras(GBR1) grabbed the attention of the rowing world when he won a spectacular bronze medal in the M1X at the 2017 World Championships. 2018 was spent in the M4X in what was, ultimately, a disappointing season. Racing as GBR2 is Harry Leask. He’s just returned to active duty following an extensive lay-off through injury. He’ll be hoping to pick up where he left off in 2018 when finished a strong 4that the World Championships (beating both Robbie Manson and Oliver Zeidler). It’s a mark of the strength in depth of the British sculling squad that two World Championship A-Finalists are battling it out for the final sculling seat in the squad.
A number of other countries have 2 scullers racing in Poznan. Racing as NZL2 is Isaac Grainger. He perhaps can feel a little hard done by, as he is one of the athletes dropped from the Kiwi M8 to make room for Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale. Poznan will be his first appearance internationally in any boat apart from the M8. He did race in the M1X at the NZL Championships but did not progress beyond the repecharge. Australia also have two scullers competing, Luke Letcher (AUS1) and David Bartholot (AUS2). Letcher finished 13thlast season and Bartholot makes his international debut in Poznan. Bulgaria have two highly experienced scullers vying for the M1X berth. Racing as BUL1 is Kristian Vasilev, he was 9thin the M2X at the Rio Olympics. Racing as BUL2 is Boris Yotov. He finished 3 places behind Vasilev at the Rio Olympics when he was competing for Azerbaijan. In 2018 Yotov won bronze in the BM1X at the U23 World Championships and followed that up with a slightly disappointing 12thplace in the M2X with Vasilev.
Another sculler who is beginning to make his mark on the international scene is Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen. He made his senior debut back in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2018 that he began to make regular appearances in the A-Finals, taking 4thand 5that the first two World Cups. He narrowly missed the A Final at the 2018 World Championships, but won the B-Final to take 7thoverall. So far in 2019 he’s made one appearance, finishing 4that the European Championships, just 3/10thoff his first senior medal.
Other scullers to watch include Lithuania’s Mindaugus Griskonis the 2018 World Bronze medallist, and Switzerland’s Nico Stahlberg (a bronze medallist at the 2ndWorld Cup last year).
My picks…..Manson is coming into the European season having had a dominant winter in New Zealand, but Zeidler is the man of the moment. It should be an epic battle between these two and I’m going to go with Manson to win (for now). Behind these two it’s a very open battle for the bronze, if Fournier Rodriguez is on form he could take it, but Borch and Barras could be in the mix as well
One of the biggest talking points of the whole World Cup will be the return to competition of New Zealand’s Emma Twigg. She is returning to international competition for the first time since finishing 4that the Rio Olympics. She is aiming to compete at her 4thOlympic Games and, hopefully, win her first Olympic medal. She was one of the outstanding scullers during the first half of the decade winning a full set of World Championship medals (including gold in 2014). It remains to be seen what sort of speed she has on the international stage, but was a convincing winner of the New Zealand Championships this year.
Emma Twigg of New Zealand
None of the medallists from the European championships (Sanita Puspure, Jeanine Gmelin and Mirka Topkinova) are racing in Poznan which does weaken the field slightly, but there will still be some strong athletes to give Twigg a significant challenge on her return to racing. One of the most consistent of these is Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig. It’s a rare occasion indeed when Lobnig is not in the A-Final, indeed it’s only happened twice in a single sculling career dating back to 2013. She won bronze at last year’s World Championships and started 2019 with a 4thplace at the European Championships.
Finishing one place behind Lobnig at the European’s was Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen. She’s another highly experienced athlete, 2019 marks her 14thseason as a senior international and she’s aiming to qualify for her 3rdOlympic Games. The highlight of her career so far was an Olympic silver medal in 2012. She took a year out after London and since her return she’s not yet found the medal winning speed of 2012. 9thin Rio and again in 2017, she finally returned to a World Championship A-Final in 2018 when she finished 5th. Her strong start to the 2019 season in Lucerne will be an encouragement that she should be targeting an A-Final spot in Poznan.
Vicky Thornley of Great Britain returned to competition at the European’s following a 2018 season that was marred by over-training syndrome. The Rio W2X silver medallist had a frustrating return at Lucerne when she missed out on an A Final appearance. However she would have gained confidence from a dominant performance in the B-Final which she won by 5 seconds. With the top three scullers from Lucerne missing she will be looking to get a solid berth in the A-Final as she progresses towards the all-important Olympic qualification in Linz.
The most experienced athlete in the field is Ekaterina Karsten of Blearus, the 47 year-old raced in the W4X last season before moving back to her preferred single scull for the Plovdiv World Cup, finishing 6th. Should she remain in the single and qualify for Tokyo it will be an unprecedented 7thOlympic Games.
Carling Zeeman of Canada finished 10that the Rio Olympics. During 2017 she medalled at the Lucerne World Cup and made the A-Final at the World Championships. Another medal in Lucerne in 2018 was followed up by a slightly disappointing finish at the World Championships which saw her take 3rdin the B-final to finish 9thoverall. She’s a talented sculler who has proved her medal-winning ability and it’ll be really interesting to see how she gets on in 2019.
Germany have two talented scullers racing, Annekatrin Thiele as GER1 and Julia Leiding as GER2. Thiele (one of the smallest athletes in the field at 173cm tall), has won multiple world and Olympic medals in the W4X (including gold in 2016), but after the Rio Games moved into the W1X and has put in some solid performances, including bronze at the Europeans in 2017 and a 6thplace in the World last year. Poznan is her first international competition of the season. Leiding sculled for Germany at the European’s finishing 14th.
The runner-up at the first world cup was Yan Jiang of China. She raced in the W4X that finished 6that the Rio Olympics and then switched to the W2X for 2018 finishing 9th. Silver in only her 2ndWorld Cup as a single sculler (the 1stwas Sydney back in 2015), is an encouraging sign that she will be another serious contender for an A-final placing in Poznan and beyond.
The final sculler to mention is Kara Kohler of the USA. She’s a world champion in the W4- from 2011 and an Olympic bronze medallist from the W4X in London. She moved to the single scull in 2018 ending the season with an excellent 4thplace at the World Championships. The 2ndWorld Cup is always a bit of a “loosener” for the US team (for the majority of them it’s their 1strace in Europe) so it’s difficult to know what to expect, but if she’s competitive now, by the time we get to Linz she could be a serious medal contender.
Kara Kohler of the USA. Phot USRowing
My picks…..really difficult to call…..if Twigg is anywhere near “race-fit” she will be tough to beat, but Lobnig is very consistent and Thornley desperate to step up from her last outing, then with Zeeman and Kohler making their season debuts it really is a packed field. Twigg for the win with Lobnig 2ndand Kohler in bronze.
Croatian’s Martin and Valent Sinkovic have established themselves as the pair to beat this year. They dominated the field at the European Championships winning by 2 seconds ahead to Romania. Their target is to become the first pair to win a World Championship and Olympic gold in both the M2X and M2-. However, due to a back injury to Valent they are a late withdrawal from Poznan
In the absence of the Croatians the favourites may well be the Australian’s Josh Booth and Alex Hill. Hill was a member of the outstanding Australian M4- that won silver at the Rio Olympics and then won back-to-back World titles in 2017 and 2018. Booth was also a member of the Rio Olympic M4- and then moved into the M8 in 2018 ending up with a silver medal at the World Championships. It’s really interesting to see Australia break up a dominant M4- and a very successful M8 and push two of their top oarsmen into the M2-. The Aussies have a long tradition in this boat class and it would appear they are looking to reclaim the top spot vacated by the Kiwis. This boat has the makings of a very fast pair. Seeing them go up against the Croatians could be one of the highlights of the regatta.
But, it’s most definitely not a 2 boat race. The Canadians also look to be prioritising the small boats (an experiment they’ve been trying for a while with mixed success). They have 2 boats racing in Poznan. Racing as CAN1 are Kai Langerfeld and Conlin McCabe. McCabe was a member of the Canadian M8 that won silver in 2012 and then he and Langerfeld raced in the M4- at Rio that finished 6th. In 2017 McCabe experimented with racing the M2X but with little success before both he and Langerfeld returned to the M8 for 2018. They finished a disappointing 8that the World Championships last year, so for 2019 they now are trying the pair. They are a talented pair of athletes but appear to be struggling to find the right boat to maximise their potential. Canada 2 is David De Groot and Tim Schrijver. De Groot was a member of the 2017 M4- that finished 8that the World Championships and then moved into the M8 for 2018. Schrijver raced in the M4- in his debut senior season in 2015 ending up just missing a medal. He then went on to race in the same boat class at the Rio Games reaching the A-Final. He missed the whole of the 2017 season, but returned in 2018 to row in the M8 at the World Championships. We will just have to wait and see if either of these pairs are competitive enough to make the A-Final.
New Zealand also have two crews racing, and the shadow of the great Murray & Bond duo hangs heavy over anyone who fills those seats. Racing as NZL1 are Michael Brakeand Thomas Murray. This duo were the bow pair in the M8 that raced at the Rio Olympics and when in 2018 they took over the role of the new “Kiwi Pair”. It looked like they were picking up where their illustrious predecessors left off, taking a win in their first regatta together at the Lucerne World Cup. They ended the season with an impressive performance at the World Championships taking 5thplace overall. The 2ndNew Zealand pair is Ian Seymour and Anthony Allen. Seymour makes his first appearance in a Kiwi boat since rowing in the M8 at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta in 2012. Allen was a member of the more recent Kiwi M8 racing in the boat at the 2ndand 3 World Cups last year.
Another set of brothers racing in this event are Valentin and Theophile Onfroy from France. They were both members of the French M4- at the Rio Olympics but then made a successful move into the pair for the 2017 season. They won silver at the Europeans and also medalled at both the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. At the World Championships in Florida they just missed the making the podium. They continued this excellent form in 2018 repeating their silver medal result at the Europeans and then improving their 2017 World Championships performance by one place to take the bronze medal. 2019 has gotten off to a slow start for them however, as they could only manage a 9thplace at the European Championships. But when they are fully race fit, they will definitely be medal contenders.
Great Britain are another nation with strong heritage in this event. They’ve sent two boats to Poznan with the lead boat of Harry Glenister and George Rossiter with the no.2 boat being Morgan Bolding and James Johnston. Glenister and Rossiter competed at the European Championships last month finishing a solid 8thplace. Johnston raced in the M4- throughout the 2018 season ending with an excellent bronze medal at the World Championships. His partner, Morgan Bolding, from Oxford Brookes University, makes his senior international debut after winning a bronze medal in the U23 BM8 last season. An A-Final appearance for either of these pairs would be a significant achievement.
Milos Vasic and Martin Mackovic of Serbia gave the favoured Croatians a big surprise at the first World Cup by taking the gold medal. They couldn’t quite follow this up at the European Championships, but a 6thplace finish in a strong field was an encouraging performance.
Italy were World Champions in 2017, but have only one member of that boat left, Guiseppe Vicino. He’s joined by Leonardo Pietra Caprina. Vicino is one of Italy’s most successful rowers of recent years, he’s won gold in the M4- at the 2015 Worlds and in the M2- in 2017. He’s also an Olympic bronze medallist in the M4- from Rio. He’s been racing in the M2- since 2017, but has had a number of different partners, including Matteo Lodo and Giovanni Abagnale. Pietra Caprina is still only 21 but already has a number of medals to his credit including an U23 World Championship gold medal from 2017, he also rowed at the Senior Worlds that year winning a bronze medal in the M8. He stayed in the M8 for the 2018 season ending up 5that the World Championships. This is an exciting pair with a huge amount of potential, an A-Final finish at their first regatta together would be a great start.
My picks….I reckon the Aussies will take gold with New Zealand in silver and Italy in bronze.
Overwhelming favourites in this event will be the New Zealanders, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler.They were both members of the NZL W8 that finished 4that the Rio Olympics and then moved into the pair for 2017. They went unbeaten throughout 2017 and into 2018, going into the World Championships as hot favourites. But, they came up against an inspired crew from Canada who pushed them into silver. Canada are back in 2019, but crucially the world champion pairing of Hillary Janssens and Cailegh Filmer has split up (following a rumoured bust-up between the two rowers). For Poznan Janssens is rowing as Canada 2 with Sydney Payne. Payne is a two-time U23 World Champion and then took silver in the W8 at the senior Worlds. Racing as Canada 1 are Lisa Romain and Kristin Bauder. They were also in the W8 last year that won silver.
Grace Prendergast (left) and Kerri Gowler (right). Photo NZ Rowing
The USA also have two boats racing with Megan Kalmoe and Tracey Eisser as USA1 and Allyson Baker and Emily Huelskamp as USA2. Kalmoe and Eisser were the USA W2- for 2017 and finished as runners-up to the New Zealanders at the World Championships. Kalmoe missed the 2018 season but Eisser rowed in the 6 seat of the USA W8 that won gold at the World Championships. Allyson Baker, an Ohio State graduate, makes her international debut in Poznan. She’s joining the experienced Emily Huelskamp, a two-time World Championship medallist.
Neither the gold or silver medallists from the European Championships are racing in Poznan, but Italy, the bronze medallists are. They are represented by Kiri Tontodonati and Aisha Rocek. The bronze medal in Lucerne was their first sweep medal, they may find the competition in Poznan a lot tougher.
China are another nation with two boats racing. Their top boat is Xinyu Liu and Rui Ju.This pairing were 5thin the world in 2018 and also raced at the 1stWorld Cup in Plovdiv where they finished 4th. China 2 is Miaomiao Qin and Linlin Guo. This pairing also raced at the Plovdiv World Cup and beat their compatriots ending up 2ndoverall. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Chinese team develops now that both Steve Redgrave and former GB Chief Women’s Coach Paul Thompson are involved.
Australia’s 2 boats are comprised of Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre in AUS1 and Lilly Tinapple and Georgina Gotch in AUS2. Morrison makes her first international appearance since racing in the W8 at the Rio Olympics and McIntyre was runner-up at the U23 Worlds in 2017 and made her senior debut in 2018 winning a bronze medal in the W8. Tinapple makes her senior debut having last represented Australia as an U23 in 2014. Gotch was another member of the bronze medal W8 from 2018
France’s top boat sees Noemie Kober and Marie Le Nepvou reunited in the boat that saw them race at the Rio Olympics. Kober spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons sculling but without much success. Le Nepvou raced in the W2- at the 2018 World Championships with Flavie Bahuaud, but they finished last. So, back together Kober and Le Nepvou have the potential to be in the A Final although they made a slow start to the season with another last place finish at the Europeans.
The final boat to mention are the Chilean twins, Melita and Antonia Abraham.They were U23 World Champions in 2017 and are definitely a crew to watch for the future.
My picks….hard to see anyone beating the Kiwis for the gold, then USA1 in silver and Canada 1 in bronze.
Another event with a huge entry, and an event where it’s really difficult to pick a clear favourite. The French, Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias, are the reigning World Champions and have been racing together as a double for the majority of the last 5 years. During that time they have raced at the Olympics and won the European and World titles. However, their defence of the European crown went awry in Lucerne where they could only manage 6th. Winners in Lucerne were the Poles, Miroslaw Zietarski and Fabian Baranski. However Baranski has swapped places with Mateusz Biskup in the quad for this World Cup. This is now the same line-up that finished 8that the 2018 World Championships. The 2ndPolish boat is Maciej Zawojski and Adam Wicenciak. Zawojski was in the M4X at the 2018 Worlds and at the first World Cup this season finished 4thin the M2X with Szymon Posnik. Wicenciak raced in the silver medal M2X at the 1stWorld Cup and then the quad for the Europeans. The Poles are doing a lot of shifting around of personnel in their sculling boats which is all very confusing!
Australia have two boats racing, Australia 1 is Hamish Playfair and Campbell Watts. Playfair raced in the M8 last year and Watts was in the silver medal-winning M4X. AUS2 is Karsten Fosterling and David Bartholot. Fosterling makes his first international appearance since winning the silver medal in the M4X at the Rio Olympics. His partner, Bartholot makes his international debut in Poznan. This duo have been named as the sculling reserves for the Australian team. Edit: Fosterling has withdrawn due to a rib injury)
New Zealand are always strong in this event and the have kept faith with the line-up that finished 3rdin the world last year – Chris Harris and John Storey. Harris raced in the M2X at the Rio Olympics and Storey was in the quad.
Chris Harris and John Storey of New Zealand. Photo: Newshub
Silver medallists at last year’s World Championships were the Swiss, Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli. The Swiss have stuck with that successful line-up for 2019 and they’ve been rewarded with a good start to the season when they won silver at the European’s (just 9/100thbehind the winners).
Great Britain’s new double combination of Graeme Thomas and John Collins made a solid start to their partnership with a 4thplace at the European Championships, just 7/10thoff a medal. They are both highly experienced scullers and this is a combination that could be very competitive as the season progresses.
It’s interesting to see the Norwegian’s have split they M4X into two doubles for this event. Martin Helseth and Erik Solbakken race as NOR1 with Olaf Tufte and Jan Oscar Helvig NOR2. As a quad they finished 5that the Europeans, so it remains to be seen if the Norwegians are having 2ndthoughts about which boat to prioritise. Certainly there is no one more experienced than Tufte, if he qualifies for Tokyo it will be his 7thOlympics.
China could well be the dark horses in this event, their crew of Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang were winners of the 1stWorld Cup – China’s first ever World Cup gold medal in this event. This was certainly a step-up in performance from previous years for this duo. It remains to be seen how they fare in such a strong field.
Another crew to watch for are the Lithuanians, Saulius Ritter and Dovydas Nemeravicius. Ritter won silver in this boat class at the 2016 Olympics and Nemeravicius was in the quad that finished 9thin Rio but went on to win World Championship gold at the 2017 World Championships. They are two highly talented scullers but as a combination they have yet to truly click managing only an 8thplace at the Europeans.
Germany are another nation that is trying to find a fast combination from a group of highly talented scullers. Racing as GER1 are Tim Ole Naske and Stephan Krueger. Naske narrowly lost out on the M1X spot to Ziedler last season having finished 6thin the world in 2017. Krueger raced in this boat class with the legendary Marcel Hacker at the 2016 Olympics finishing 8th. As a Double Naske and Krueger raced at the Europeans, missing the A-Final but taking 1stin the B-Final. GER2 is StephanRiemekasten and Hans Gruhne. Riemekasten made his one and only senior appearance so far at the 2018 Europeans finishing 7th. Gruhne is far more experienced and was a member of the gold medal winning M4X in Rio. He makes his season’s debut having last raced at the 2018 World Championships finishing 8thin the M4X.
My picks…another tough race to call…..New Zealand in gold ahead of the Swiss with the French in bronze.
Another cracking event in prospect. The New Zealanders, Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe will possibly start as marginal favourites. Their partnership in the double started at the beginning of the 2017 season and they went unbeaten throughout 2017 winning the World Championships in Florida. They started 2018 as they left off, with wins at both the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. But, at the 2018 World Championships they suffered their first defeat when they were beaten to the gold medal by the Lithuanians. They will be keen to get their own back on Lithuania and return to the top of the podium. New Zealand have a 2ndboat racing with Hannah Osborne and Samantha Voss. Osborne filled the W1X slot post-Rio and Voss makes her senior debut as the reigning U23 BW1X World Champion.
Lithuania have their World Championship winning double back, Milda Valciukaite and Ieva Adomaviciute. Valciukaite (World Rowing’s Athlete of the Month for June 2019) has had an outstanding career so far, a senior World Champion at 19, and Olympic bronze medallist at 22. She won her 2ndWorld Championship gold last year and has formed an excellent partnership with Adomaviciute. For her part Adomaviciute also has an impressive medal haul with golds at both Junior and U23 level. By their own high standards the World Champions have made a slow start to the season managing “only” a 5thplace at the European Championships.
German women’s sculling tends to focus on the W4X, but this year they look to have found a very competitive W2X. Carlotta Nwajide and Leonie Menzel started the 2019 season by winning the European Championships (Germany’s first gold medal in this event since 2010). Nwajide raced in the W4X last season that won silver at the World Championships. For Menzel she made her senior debut at the 2019 European Championships, and not many athletes can claim their first senior international race resulted in a gold medal.
Australia have a new combination for 2019, and it’s a mix of youth and experience. Amanda Bateman makes her senior debut in Poznan having raced in the Aussie U23 team in 2017. She joins Genevieve Horton who has been in the senior Australian team since 2015, and raced in the W2X at the Rio Olympics. At the World Championships last year she rowed in the W4X that finished 7th.
Canada have also kept the same line-up from 2018. Gabrielle Smith and Andrea Proske finished 6thin the World last season having won silver in their first race together at the Lucerne World Cup. Not a bad return on their debut season. With another year together it’ll be interesting to see how their speed has developed.
China made a strong start to the 2019 season taking the win at the 1stWorld Cup with their crew of Yuwei Wang and Shiyu Lu. 20-year-old Lu made he senior debut last year and her gold in Plovdiv marked her first medal (and first A-Final) as a senior athlete. Wang is far more experienced having made her senior debut in 2014. She raced in the W4X at the Rio Olympics and then finished 4that the 2018 World Championships.
Italy finished 3rdat the 2019 Europeans with their pairing of Stefania Buttignon and Stefania Gobbi. Buttignon is the reigning U23 BLW2X World Champion and made her senior debut this season. Gobbi was U23 silver medallist in 2017 and then raced at the senior Worlds in 2018 when she finished 12thin the W4X.
The USA have two high class boats entered. USA1 is Cicely Madden and Gevvie Stone. This is a combination of youth and experience. Madden makes her senior debut after a couple of years on the U23 team. She joins one of the most experienced athletes on the whole US team. Stone made her senior debut in 2010 and represented the US in the W1X at both the London and Rio Olympics, taking silver at the 2016 Games. She lost out on the W1X spot to Kara Kohler so races in a crew boat for only the 2ndtime in her senior career. USA2 is Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek. They have been the US W2X since 2013. They finished 6that the Rio Olympics and followed that with a silver in 2017 and bronze in 2018.
My picks…New Zealand for gold with the Lithuanian’s in silver and USA2 in bronze.
Australia have dominated this event for the last couple of years, indeed since the Rio Olympics they are undefeated. So, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the Australians make wholesale changes to their crew. Only Jack Hargreaves remains from last year’s crew. Out goes Josh Hicks, Spencer Turrin and Alex Hill, in comes Tim Masters, Nick Purnell and Joseph O’Brien. Masters and Purnell were members of the Aussie M8 last season and 21-year-old O’Brien raced in the M2- at last year’s worlds finishing 13th. This move by the Australians may well be to strengthen the M8 with the view of securing Olympic qualification at the Worlds. The M4- is an easier boat to qualify – the top 8 will qualify at the World Championships whereas only the top 5 M8 will. Perhaps the Australians feel that this new line-up is fast enough to guarantee qualification, but the M8 needed all the firepower it can get.
You can’t mention the M4- without talking about Great Britain.For many people the M4- is the British men’s boat. But, like the Australians, the British are prioritising the M8 so the top athletes are in the biggest boat. But that doesn’t mean the GB M4- is an also ran. Juergen Grobler has put together a new crew that impressed on its debut outing, winning the European Championships. Stroked by Yale graduate, Sholto Carnegie, he’s backed up by Oxford Brookes graduate Rory Gibbs along with 2017 bronze medallist Matt Rossiter and 2016 M2+ World Champion Ollie Cook. It’s going to be great to see how this new combination fares against the rest of the competition. Great Britain also have a 2ndboat racing, with a number of athletes making their return to competition following injury. Chief among these is Olympic gold medallist, Will Satch. He’s been plagued by injuries since Rio, first with a serious heart complaint and then a damaged shoulder. But it’s great to see him back in the boat. He’s joined by Al Sinclair. He raced in the pair at the Rio Olympics, just missing a medal and then moved into the M8 for the 2018 Worlds taking the bronze medal. They are backed-up by Tom Jeffry and Adam Neill. Jeffry finished 5thin the world in the M2- in 2017, and Neill was a member of the 2018 GB M4- that won bronze. These four, when fully race fit, could be looking to strengthen the M8 even more. What is clear is that the GB men’s squad is beginning to come together quite nicely.
GB M4- Stroke Sholto Carnegie
2ndto the British at the Europeans were Poland. They have retained the same line-up from Lucerne (Mikolaj Burda, Mateusz Wilangowski, Marcin Brzezinski & Michal Szpakowski). This quartet won the first World Cup and finished 7thoverall at the 2018 World Championships. There are some of the most experienced athletes in the field with 10 Olympic games appearances between them. They are a crew that are always there-or-thereabouts.
Italy were World Champions in this event in 2015, Olympic Bronze medallists in Rio and runners-up to the Australians in 2017 and 2018. They’ve made one change to the crew that won silver last year, with Giovanni Abagnale replacing Matteo Lodo. Abagnale joins Matteo Castaldo, Bruno Rosetti and Marco Di Costanzo. Another very experienced unit, they would have been a little disappointed to have only been 5that the Europeans this year.
If the M4- is the GB boat then the M8 is the German one. But, that doesn’t mean the German’s don’t boat a good M4-. This year in particular they have a very talented line-up (Felix Brummel, Felix Wimberger, Max Planer and Nico Megret). Both Planer and Wimberger raced in the M4- at the Rio Olympics before moving into the M8 and were members of the World Championship winning boat in 2017 and 2018. Megret and Brummel were members of the M4- throughout 2018 and finished 6that the World Championships. So far this season this crew has only raced at the European championships where they finished 3rdbehind the British and Poles. For Planer and Wimberger the move to the M4- can definitely be seen as a demotion and it remains to be seen how they respond to this disappointment.
The USA are another nation for whom the M8 is the be-all-and-end-all, so it’s a bit of a surprise not to see them competing in that event in Poznan. However they do have 2 M4- racing. USA1 consists of Thomas Dethlefs, Conor Harrity, Alex Richards and Alex Wallis. Dethlefs is the most experienced of the quartet having been a member of the M8 from 2013-2015 and then gain in 2018. Harrity was also a member of the US M8 last year in his sole international appearance to date. Richards raced in the M4- at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships with a best performance of 10thin 2017. 22-year-old Wallis raced at the U23 World Championships last year finishing just outside of the medals in the BM4-. USA2 has three members of the American M8 that raced in Rio (Mike Di Santo, Austin Hack and Alex Karwoski). The final member of the crew is Andrew Reed, a World silver medallist in the M8 in 2017. It’s going to be interesting to see which of the US crews is faster – on paper it would appear to be USA2.
My picks…..tricky…..on paper the Australians look vulnerable, but whist they look a weaker crew than previous years I doubt they will be much slower. I’m going for an Aussie win with GB in 2ndand Italy 3rd.
Since it was announced that this event would be included in the Olympic programme in Tokyo the Australians and Americans have been the ones to watch. Australia were World Champions in 2017 and they have three of that crew back in 2019 (Lucy Stephan, Katrina Werry & Sarah Hawe), they are joined by Olympia Aldersey who’s more used to sculling events than sweep. She’s won World Championship medals in the W2X and rowed in the W8 at the Rio Olympics.
The USA have four highly experienced athletes in their No.1 boat, all of whom are World Champions, Victoria Opitz, Maddy Wanamaker, Emily Regan and Molly Bruggeman. Opitz is a 4 time World Champion in the W8, Wanamaker and Bruggeman were world champions in the W4- last year and Regan has three World Championship golds and one Olympic gold.
The USA’s Victoria Opitz. Photo: World Rowing
Canada are the reigning Olympic Champions from 1992. Their crew this year is Christine Roper, Colleen Nesbitt, Karen Lefsrud and Stephanie Grauer. Roper and Grauer were both members of the W8 that won silver at the World Championships last year. Lefsrud is an U23 World Champion from 2017 and Nesbitt makes her second international appearance following a 7thplace in the W4- at Lucerne last year.
Denmark were 4thin the world last year and then 4that the Europeans this season. The crew includes Olympic bronze medallist Hedvig Rasmussen. She’s joined by Christina Johansen who was her partner at the World Championships last season, winning bronze in the W2-. The rest of the crew are Frida Sanggaard Nielsen and Ida Jacobsen who were both in the crew at last year’s Worlds.
Poland were world silver medallists in this event in 2017 and have kept faith with that line-up (Joanna Dittmann, Monika Chabel, Olga Michalkiewicz & Maria Wierzbowska). They are an experienced quartet, with both Chabel and Wierzbowska having Olympic experience. In 2018 they finished 5thin the world and so far this season they’ve raced once, taking bronze at the European Championships.
China were bronze medallists at the 1stWorld Cup in Plovdiv, they have a mix of youth and experience with the 20-year-old Zeifang Wang and Xingue Xu joining the more experienced Min Zhang and Fei Wang. Min Zhang and Fei Wang raced in this boat class at the 2018 Worlds finishing 6th. Xu raced in the W8 last season and Zeifang Wang won bronze in the U23 BW4- in 2018.
As with the men’s 4-, Great Britain have two boats racing in Poznan. GBR1 is Sara Parfett, Caragh McMurtry, Rebecca Girling and Emily Ford. This combination were 6that the European Championships. They will be looking to step on from that performance and if they can secure an A-Final place in this strong field it will be a good result. The GBR2 boat sees the return to competition of Olympic silver medallist Polly Swan. She took time out of the boat to finish her studies (and recover from a back injury). Her return will be a significant boost to the GB women’s sweep team. It remains to be seen what boat she ends up in for the World Championships. Swann is joined by Holly Hill, who makes her 2019 debut following a return from injury, and Sam Courty and Annie Withers who were the GB W2- at the Europeans. The inter-team rivalry between these two boats is going to be fun to watch.
My picks…Australia in gold ahead of the USA and the Danes in bronze.
Italy have kept the same line-up that won the European and World Championships last year (Filippo Mondelli, Andrea Panizza, Luca Rambaldi and Giacomo Gentili). Their 2019 season got off to a slightly disappointing start as they were beaten into 2ndat the European Championships by an outstanding Dutch Quad. With the Dutch absent from Poznan the Italians will be looking to get back on the top of the podium.
One of the main threat to Italy will be Australia. They were runners-up to the Italians last year and have three of that crew back in 2019 (Caleb Antill, Alex Purnell and David Watts). Joining the crew this year is Cameron Girdlestone. For Girdlestone, Poznan marks his return to international competition for the first time since winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Watts is another member of the crew with Olympic experience having raced in the M2X in Rio.
Great Britain have put a lot of faith in their quad as the boat that can deliver a major medal for them this season. The crew of Jack Beaumont, Angus Groom, Jonny Walton and Pete Lambert all have Olympic experience with Beaumont, Groom and Lambert having finished 5thin the quad at the Rio Games and Walton 5thin the M2X. GB narrowly missed out on a world Championship gold medal in 2017 but then had a very disappointing end to the 2018 season when they failed to qualify for the A-Final. With the tweaked line-up in 2019 they made a reasonable start to their campaign, taking a bronze medal at the Europeans. They will be disappointed if they cannot get among the medals again in Poznan.
Angus Groom (left) and Jack Beaumont (right) at the U23 World Championships in 2014. (Photo: World Rowing)
Germany finished one place behind Great Britain at the Europeans. The crew is led by Olympic champion Karl Schulze. He’s joined by former lightweight Olympian Lars Hartig and Timo Piontek and Max Appel who were both in the M4x that finished 8thin 2017. This crew, like the British, has great potential but hasn’t (yet) shown their top speed.
Lithuania won the World Championships in 2017 but then finished last in 2018. This year’s crew of Martynas Dziaugys, Rolandas Mascinskas, Dominykas Jancionis and Aurimas Adomavicius made a similarly inauspicious start to their 2019 season, finishing 5thin the B-Final of the Europeans (albeit racing with a substitute onboard). It is often the case with the Lithuanians, on their day they can beat anyone and everyone, but then they can also end up at the back of the field.
New Zealand produced an outstanding performance at last year’s World Championships when they just missed out on a medal. That crew included the legendary Mahe Drysdale. For 2019 Drysdale has moved into the M8, and his place is taken by Jordan Parry. He joins Nathan Flannery, Cameron Crampton and Lewis Hollows. Flannery was in the M4X that finished last at the Olympics in Rio. Parry made his senior debut last year having won gold at the U23 World Championships in 2017. Crampton and Hollows were both members of the M4X that finished 7thin the world in 2017. It remains to be seen what sort of speed this combination has, now that Drysdale has moved out of the boat.
Poland have a long tradition in this boat class (they were Olympic champions in Beijing). This season’s crew has been going through a number of changes, but for Poznan the line-up is Dominik Czaja, Wiktor Chabel, Szymon Posnik and Fabian Baranski. This is three of the crew that finished 6thn the world last season. So far this season Poland have a gold medal from the 1stWorld Cup and a 7thplace from the Europeans (although only 2 of the crew for Poznan were in those boats). Once Poland have a settled line-up they should be a competitive crew.
My picks….another great contest in prospect….I’m going for Italy in gold with GB in silver and Australia in bronze.
Poland are the reigning World Champions and have the same crew racing this season (Agnieszka Kobus-Zawojska, Marta Wieliczko, Maria Springwald and Katarzyna Zillmann). This is a highly experienced unit and includes 2 of the crew that won bronze at the Rio Olympics. They didn’t get the best of starts to their season when they were pushed out of the medals entirely at the European Championships, only the 3rdtime the Polish quad has missed out on a medal since before the Rio Games. However they will take some comfort from the fact that the last time that happened was at the 2017 Europeans and they went on to take silver at the Worlds.
If the M8 is the boat for the German men then the same can be said of the quad for the German women. They have dominated the event for the last 20 years. However in more recent times their crown has begun to slip, although they won in Rio they haven’t dominated the racing quite as much as they used to. However, that could well be about to change. Their crew for 2019 (Michaela Staelberg, Julia Lier, Franziska Kampmann and Freida Haemmerling) made an excellent start to 2019 by winning the European Championships, and doing so in some style. Lier is the sole remaining member of the crew that won the Rio Olympics with the stern pairing of Kampmann and Haemmerling remaining from the crew that won silver at last year’s world Championships.
China were winners of the 1stWorld Cup, even though it was a 2 boat race the crew they beat from The Netherlands were 3rdin the world last year and silver medallists at this year’s Europeans, so they were a good scalp to take. China’s crew includes three of the crew that finished 4that last year’s Worlds (Ling Zhang, Yang Lyu and Xiaotong Cui). The new member of the crew for this season is Yunxia Chen who raced in the W2X last season.
Australia have a new, and relatively inexperienced crew this year. Three of the crew (Fiona Ewing, Cara Grzeskowiak and Katrina Bateman) are all making their senior debuts with only Rowena Meredith having any senior experience, she sculled in this boat at the 2017 and 2018 world championships finishing 6th and7th respectively.
The final crew racing are from The Netherlands. This is not their senior crew that finished runners-up at the Europeans, but their U23 crew of Nika Vos, Tessa Dullemans, Ilse Kolkman and Bente Paulis.
My picks….a bit more straightforward than some of the other events….Germany for gold ahead of Poland in silver with China in bronze.
This event is always eagerly anticipated, but this regatta even more so as it marks the first appearance of the new look New Zealand crew, with Hamish Bond at stroke and Mahe Drysdale at 3. Everyone wants to see just what a difference these two legends can have on this crew. Should they not win it’ll be the first time since the Beijing Olympics that Hamish Bond has lost an international regatta….that’s quite a record to put on the line! They will need to elevate the performance from last year significantly as the Kiwis could only manage a disappointing 9that the World Championships. A repeat of that at this year’s worlds will mean they are a long way off qualifying for the Olympics. But, all the rumours coming out of New Zealand is that this boat is now very, very rapid.
But, the M8 this Olympiad has been all about Germany. So far they have been unbeaten since losing to the British at the Rio Olympics. They are desperate to repeat the feat they achieved at the London Olympiad, winning all three world titles and then the Olympics (something the British also achieved for the Rio Olympiad). At the European Championships this season they continued their winning ways, but were made to work hard for the win having to come from behind at the halfway point to eventually take the win by 9/10thof a second.
The German M8
Great Britain have prioritised the M8 this Olympiad, as mentioned before, qualification for the Olympics via the World Championships is extremely tough so a number of nations are loading their 8’s in an attempt to secure qualification. GB will have been disappointed to lose to the Germans at the European championships. They were leading at half way and it’s rare for a crew in that position to end up losing. However the margin of defeat will give them confidence that they can beat the Germans. It’ll also be interesting to see if the crew gets strengthened later in the season with the return of Olympians Will Satch, Al Sinclair and Tom Ransley.
Australia are another nation who have loaded their M8, bringing in Josh Hicks and Spencer Turrin from the World Champion M4-. It’s not as if the Aussies needed much strengthening, their 2018 crew were World silver medallists behind Germany. But with this revised line-up they present a major challenge to the British and the Germans.
Canada have long prided themselves on their M8, however their performances in recent years have been somewhat disappointing. They have made a number of changes to the crew that finished 8thin the world last year, with only four of that crew remaining. At stroke they’ve brought in the highly experienced Will Crothers, an Olympic silver medallist from 2012. The bow pair of Mackenzie Copp and Taylor Perry raced as the Canadian M2- last season finishing a credible 4that the World Championships. One of the most notable changes is in the coxes seat, Lesley Thompson-Willie (who turns 60 in September) takes the helm of the M8. Her career dates back to 1981 and she certainly brings a wealth of international experience to the boat.
Italy looked to have found a truly competitive M8 when they took the bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships. However since then they’ve not really been able to repeat the feat. They finished 5thin the World Last season (which would be enough to qualify for Tokyo if they repeat the performance this year). Their one appearance so far this season was a somewhat lacklustre performance at the European Championships which saw them trail in last in the A-Final almost 19 seconds behind Germany.
Poland are a very “hit-and-miss” crew as a M8. At their best they can be pushing for a medal, but more often than not they are at the backend of the A-Final. This season they took the win at the 1stWorld Cup albeit in a 2 boat final against the Romanian U23 crew. At the European Championships they failed to qualify for the A-Final ending up 7thin a 7 boat field. With such a strong field facing them in Poznan they may struggle to give the home fans something to celebrate.
My picks….it’s going to be epic whatever happens. Germany will be desperate to retain their 100% record and I think they’ll just edge it ahead of Australia with GB in bronze.
For the last decade the question with the women’s 8 was “who will finish 2ndto the USA”, such was the dominance of the Americans that they went undefeated for more than a decade. But, the world was turned upside down in 2017 when, not only did the USA lose, they didn’t even win a medal. 2018 started badly for the US as well, when they could only manage 3rdat the Lucerne World Cup. However normal service was resumed at the World championships when they secured gold. For 2019 they’ve made three changes to the 2018 crew with Rio Olympic Gold medallist Meghan Musnicki, 2018 W4- gold medallist Erin Reelick and relative newcomer Brooke Mooney joining the crew.The question now is whether they can return to their usual dominance, or whether the result in 2017 as opened the door for other nations?
The biggest challengers to the Americans has always traditionally been Canada. They were runners-up to the Americans last year. This season they’ve made four changes to the crew. In comes 2018 W2- World Champion Hillary Janssens along with 2017 W8 silver medallist Nicole Hare, U23 World Champion Avalon Wasteneys and the final member of the crew is Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski (who made her international debut at the Lucerne World Cup last year).
New Zealand had a disappointing end to their 2018 campaign, missing out on the A-Final in Plovdiv, especially as 2017 saw them take the bronze medal and they won silver and gold at the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. But, the Kiwis have had to wait all winter to answer the question of whether the result in 2018 was a blip and they are genuine medal contenders in this boat class again.
Australia finished 3rd at last year’s World Championships and they have six of that crew back for 2019 (Leah Saunders, Jacinta Edmunds, Georgina Rowe, Rosemary Popa, Annabelle McIntyre and James Rook). New to the crew this year are Bronwyn Cox (U23 silver medallist in 2017), Jessica Morrison (who last raced internationally at the Rio Olympics) and Molly Goodman (another member of the Olympic W8 and World gold and silver medallist in the W4- in 2017 and 2018).
Great Britain faced a significant rebuilding task after the Rio Olympics. Only two of the silver medal crew remain, Karen Bennett and Zoe Lee. Last season the British finished 6thin the world, they will be desperate to get at least one place higher by the end of this season as only the top 5 qualify directly for the Tokyo Olympics. They made a solid start to the season, taking 2ndby just 6/100thto the Romanians. This will have been a very encouraging result for GB and they will be relishing the test against the USA, Canada and New Zealand.
Zoe Lee of Great Britain. Photo: British Rowing
Germany have never really excelled in women’s sweep rowing, especially in the eight. The last time they won a medal in this boat class was at the 1stWorld Cup in 2015. Their crew for Poznan is made up of mainly U23 athletes. Given the strength of the rest of the field they may be the ones to miss out on an A-Final spot.
China are another nation yet to master the biggest of boats. Thy did win silver at the 1stWorld Cup, but that was in a 3 boat final against the top Dutch W8 and the U23 Romanians. The majority of the crew raced in this event at the 2018 Worlds finishing 8thoverall.
The final crew in the event are The Netherlands. As mentioned above, the Dutch won the 1stWorld Cup and finished 4th(of 4) at the Europeans. However the crew racing in Poznan is not the number 1 Dutch boat. Instead, as with the rest of the Dutch squad in Poznan, it is their U23 boat. This includes a number of athletes from the silver medal U23 8 from last year, but also a number of athletes making the step up from the junior ranks, including Iris Klok who is still only 17!
My picks….USA to win but I reckon GB will get the silver with Canada in bronze
Peter Galambos of Hungary has emerged as the one to beat so far in 2019. He’s currently unbeaten having taken the wins at both the 1stWorld Cup and the European Championships. He was 6thin the world last season, but has, in the past had a best result of silver at the 2016 World Championships.
Sean Murphy from Australia had a strong 2018 season, reaching the A-Final at the Lucerne World Cup and then he went on and raced at the U23 Worlds last season, picking up a bronze medal in the BLM1X.
Croatia’s Luka Radonic has been racing in this event since 2014 and has a number of World Cup medals to his credit. This season he’s won bronze in Plovdiv and just missed the medals in Lucerne.
Germany have two scullers entered, Lucas Schaefer and Florian Roller.Schaefer rowed in the LM4- at the Rio Olympics and sculled in the LM2X at the 2017 Worlds. Roller is a three-time World Champion, winning gold in the LM8 in 2015 and in the LM4X in 2016 and 2018.
Martino Goretti of Italy also rowed in the LM4- at both the London and Rio Olympics. He won silver in the LM4- at the 2017 Europeans, but with the demise of the LM4- event he moved into the LM4X finishing 4that the World Championships and then in 2018 he moved to the single, picking up another European silver in 2018. At this year’s European’s he made the podium again, this time with a bronze medal.
New Zealand are represented by Benjamin Van Dalen. He made his senior debut last season sculling in the LM2X with Matt Dunham and finished a creditable 4that the World Championships. With his seat in the LM2X now being filled by Harrison Somerville, Van Dalen will be keen to make an impression in the single.
Artur Mikolajczewski of Poland finished 12thin the World last year, but has made a much stronger start to the season in 2019. He’s been runner-up to Galambos at both the 1stWorld Cup and the European Championships.
The USA are represented by Matt O’Leary. His last international appearance was at the Lucerne World Cup in 2017 where he finished 9th
My picks…Galambos to continue his good form with Roller in silver and Goretti in bronze.
Peter Galambos of Hungary. Photo: Zimbio
Australia’s Georgia Nesbitt was a member of the LW4X that won silver at the 2017 World Championships. Her last international appearance was in the LW4X at the Lucerne World Cup in 2018 when they finished 5th.
Jill Moffatt of Canada raced in the LW4X at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships, just missing out on a medal on both occasions. At last year’s World Championships, she raced in the LW1X reaching the A-Final and finishing 5thoverall.
China have two scullers racing, with the pick of the two being Fang Chen. She doubled up in the LW2X and LW4X at the 2017 World Championships picking up a bronze in the LW4X. In 2018 she just raced the LW4X and won gold at the World Championships. She partnered Mengyin Cheng in the LW2X at the 1stWorld Cup finishing in 6thplace (but the crucially 5 places behind the no.1 Chinese boat).
Silver medallist in the LW4X last season was Denmark’s Mathilde Persson. This season she’s raced at the Europeans reaching the A-Final in the LW1X.
Leonie Pless of Germany is one of the most experienced athletes in the field, having made her senior debut in 2011. She has a number of World Cup medals to her credit. Her best World Championship performance came In 2014 when she raced the LW1X finishing 4th. This season she raced in the LW2X at the Europeans placing 9thoverall.
Giulia Mignemi of Italy was U23 World Champion in 2018 in the BLW4X. She went on to race the light quad at the Senior Worlds in 2018 placing 6th. This season she formed a LW2X for the European Championships with Valentina Rodini reaching the A-Final. Also racing for Italy is Paola Piazzolla. She’s a triple U23 World Champion in the BLW4X and senior World Champion in the Light Quad from 2107. In 2018 she was a member of the LW4X that finished 6that the World Championships.
The oldest competitor in the field is 39-year-old Ursula Grobler of South Africa. She’s making her first appearance since finishing 5thin the LW2X at the Rio Olympics. She’s actually won medals representing three different countries. Her first medal was a LW2X silver at the 2009 World Cup racing for Spain, from 2010 to 2012 she raced for the USA winning a silver in the LW4X in 2010 and then switched to South Africa in 2013 (winning a bronze medal in the LW2X at the 2015 World Championships).
My picks….gold for Piazzolla of Italy, silver for Pless of Germany and bronze for Chen of China.
The leading crew so far this year are Germany, Jason Osborne and Jonathan Rommelmann. Osborne has established himself as the best lightweight sculler in the world at the moment. He won the World Championships last season and for 2019 he has formed a very effective partnership with Rommelmann. At the European Championships they won Germany’s first gold medal in this boat class since the Munich World Cup in 2011 and their first Championship victory since the European Championships in 2010.
Italy are always very strong in Lightweight sculling. Their double of Steffano Oppo and Pietro Ruta both raced as part of the LM4- that finished 4that the Rio Olympics. Post-Rio they moved into the LM2X winning a medal every time they raced including silver medals at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. So far in 2019 they’ve collected another silver, this time behind Germany at the Europeans.
France are the reigning Olympic Champions, but they have struggled to find a suitable replacement to partner Pierre Houin since Jeremie Azou retired after winning the 2017 World Championships. In 2018 Houin was partnered by Thomas Baroukh but ended up in the C-Final at the World Championships. At the start of 2019 he was joined by Thibault Colard, a pairing that again ended up in the C-final. For this World Cup the French are now trying Hugo Beurey, the 21-year-old won silver in the BLM1X at the U23’s and 12that Senior Worlds last year. At this year’s Europeans he picked up a bronze medal in the LM4X. France have a 2ndLM2X racing, with Houin’s previous partner, Thibault Colard, joined by Ferdinand Ludwig. 18-year-old Ludwig made his senior debut at the Europeans in the bronze medal light quad.
Great Britain are another nation with two boast battling for selection. Racing as GBR1 are Zak Lee-Green and Will Fletcher. Fletcher raced in this event at the Rio Olympics finishing 7th. Injury cut-short his 2017 season and also meant he missed the whole of the 2018 campaign. For 2019 he’s joined by Lee-Green, a World silver medallist in the LM4X in 2017. In 2018 he partnered Jamie Copus in the LM2X finishing 9that the worlds. At the 2019 Europeans Fletcher and Lee-Green finished 10th. GBR2 sees Jamie Copus join Sam Mottram to challenge for selection in the LM2X. As mentioned above, Copus had a seat in the LM2X throughout 2017 and 2018 but missed out for the European Championships. Instead of the LM2X he raced in the LM1X finishing 5th. Mottram raced with Copus at the 2017 World’s and then moved into the LM1X for 2018 winning a bronze medal at the European Championships and taking 8that the Worlds. It’s always fun watching two boats from the same nation battling it out against each other, and there is potentially a lot more at stake than just bragging rights.
China have reunited their double from 2017, Man Sun and Junjie Fan. This pairing won bronze at the 2017 World Championships. Sun has Olympic experience from Rio when he finished 11thin this event. They competed at the 1stWorld cup this year placing 5th.
New Zealand have selected Matt Dunham and Harrison Somerville for 2019. Dunham won silver in the LM1X in 2017 and then partnered Ben Van Dalen in the LM2X in 2018, just missing out on the medals at the World Championships. Poznan marks the senior debut for Somerville, who last raced internationally as a member of the Kiwi U23 team in 2016. He represented New Zealand at the World University Championships last season, winning gold in the LM1X. This is an exciting new combination and a solid A-Final finish in their first regatta together will be a great start.
Poland’s Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski have been racing together as a LM2X for the past 2 seasons. Their best result came at the 2017 World Championships when they finished on the wrong end of a three-way photo-finish for 2nd, 3rdand 4th. In 2018 they made the A-Finals at all three World Cups, taking gold at the 1st, before slipping back to 8that the Worlds. At the first World Cup of this season they won silver behind Belgium and at the Europeans they were edged out of the A-Final but won their B-Final.
The final crew to highlight are the USA. They’ve selected Nick Trojan and Andy Campbell. Campbell, a former U23 World Champion, raced in the LM2X at the Rio Olympics placing 5th. He didn’t race internationally in 2017 and made just one appearance in 2018, winning a bronze medal in the LM1X at the World Championships. Trojan made his senior debut in 2013 when he finished 12that the World championships. He then represented the US in the LM1X at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.
My picks….Hard to go with anyone other than Germany for the gold, behind them it should be a solid battle for the minor medals with Italy getting silver and New Zealand in bronze.
The top-ranked crew from last year’s World Championships competing in Poznan are Switzerland. Patricia Merz and Frederique Rol finished 4thlast year. At the European Championships this season they took bronze, repeating the medal they won at the 2018 Europeans.
The USA finished 2ndat last year’s World Championships, however for the 2019 campaign they have a new line-up, Michelle Sechser and Christine Cavallo. Both of these athletes raced at the 2018 World Championships, with Sechser taking 4thin the LW1X and Cavallo also 4thin the LW4X. Sechser raced in the LW2X during the 2017 season, partnering Emily Schmeig, winning a bronze medal.
The top-ranked crew of 2019 so far are Belarus, Anastasiia Ianina and Alena Furman won gold at the European Championships. Furman (whose tendency to look out of the boat every other stroke must frustrate coaches and crew-mates alike) raced in the W2- in Rio and was European champion in the LW1X in 2018.
Another highly experienced crew are China, Wenyi Huang and Dandan Pan. Despite being only 23, Pan’s senior career already stretches back 8 years, her international debut at the age of 15 saw her win a silver medal in the LW4x in 2011. She’s also won world championship medals in the LW2X taking bronze in 2014. More recently she added to her medal haul in 2018 taking another gold in the LW4X. 5 years pan’s senior, Huang already has two Olympic appearances to her credit. She won silver back in 2012 and followed that up with a bronze in Rio. She made a return to international competition for the first time since Rio this year, winning a silver medal in the LW1X at the 1stWorld Cup. This is a combination with a huge amount of potential, and under the guidance of new chief coach, Paul Thompson, could be China’s strongest contender for a gold medal.
Thompson’s former charges, Great Britain, have two boats racing inn Poznan. The no.1 boat of Ellie Piggott and Imogen Walsh, made a strong start to the season, taking 4that the European Championships. Grant, a former Cambridge Blue, won bronze in the LW1X at last year’s World Championships. Piggott was 5thin this boat class at last year’s Worlds and has a World Championship gold medal to her name from the 2016 LW4X. GBR2 is Emily Craig and Maddy Arlett. They went to the European Championships as spares, but ended up racing the open-weight W2X event, finishing a highly creditable 5th. Craig partnered Piggott in this event last season and was also aa member of the gold medal LW4X from 2016. Arlett raced in the LW4X throughout 2017 and 2018 finishing 5thon both occasions.
France have also made a strong start to the 2019 season. Their double of Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove won silver at the European Championships. This due were 7thin the world in 2017 and in 2018 Tarantola picked up gold medals in the LW1X at both the European and World Championships.
New Zealand have kept faith with the duo that won silver in 2017 and then finished 6thin 2018, Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle. This duo know each other extremely well having won gold together at the 2015 U23 World Championships. McBride joined the senior NZL team in 2015, becoming World Champion in the LW1X in 2015 and 2016 and setting a new World Best Time in the process.
South Africa finished 8that last year’s World Championships and they return with the same line-up this season. Kirsten McCann raced with Ursula Grobler at the Rio Olympics, finishing 5th. She then switched to the LW1X winning the gold in 2017. Her partner for the last two seasons has been Nicole Van Wyk. She made her senior debut in 2018 having won medals as part of the U23 team in 2016 and 2017.
The final crew to mention are Poland. Their crew of Katarzyna Welna and Joanna Dorociack took bronze at the 1stWorld Cup. Dorociack represented Poland in this boat class at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships finishing 4thand 11threspectively. Welna raced in the LW1X last season finishing 8that the World Championships.
My picks….another close battle in prospect. I think the Chinese will take the gold with Belarus in silver and New Zealand in bronze.
Italy will be the overwhelming favourites in this event. They are the defending World Champions and have one member of that crew returning, Catello Amarante. He’s joined by Gabriel Soares, Alfonso Scalzone and Niels Torre. Torre, U23 World Champion in 2018, replaces Lorenzo Fontana from the crew that won at the European Championships.
Austria were 4that the European Championships and their crew includes the Sieber brothers, Paul and Bernhard. This duo raced in the LM2X at the Rio Olympics. They are joined by Sebastian Kabas & Philipp Kellner.
China’squartet all raced at the 1stWorld cup, but in the LM2X, finishing 7thand 8th. Sensen Chen and Tao Zeng took 7thand Zhiyuan Zhang and Fanpu Lyu finished 8th. Zhang and Chen were the LM2X for China at the World Championships in 2018 finishing 22nd.
Norway have two of the crew that finished 8thin this event at last year’s World Championships, Oskar Soedal and Lars Benske. The rest of the quad are Jens Holm and Ola Larsson. Norway raced at the European Championships but withdrew before racing the repecharge due to illness.
The final crew racing is Uzbekistan.Their crew includes Jasurbek Mavlanov and Nurmatov Shakhzod who are making their senior debuts, joining them are Shehroz Hakimov and Anatoliy Krasnov, both of whom have raced at a number of World Cups.
My picks….a comfortable win for Italy with China in silver and Austria in 3rd.
So that’s it…..a bit of a marathon, but there promises to be some fantastic racing, that should give a good indication of who is looking good for Olympic qualification.
The Lake Malta course in Poznan, Poland. Photo: British Rowing