Time for another preview…this time it’s for the 10th under 23 World Championships which this year is being held in Varese, Italy. There are 51 nations competing in 21 events. It’s a curious mixture of experienced junior internationals making the step up in age group, athletes making their international debuts and a few experienced athletes who have already made an impact on the world stage.
So, on with the preview….
30 scullers. A big, big field, but the stand out athlete is Boris Yotov of Azerbaijan
He’s already made quite an impact on the senior international stage, forming a very effective M2X with Aleksandar Aleksandrov. Together they finished 2nd at the Aiguebelette World Cup and also at the European Championships. Yotov made his junior international debut in 2011 at the age of 15 and senior international debut the following year at the Eton World cup.
But, Yotov is not the only sculler with senior international experience. Czech Michal Plocek raced in the M2X with Jan Andrle at Lucerne, Aiguebelette and the European Championship.
They also race at the World Championships last year finishing 13th having also picked up a silver medal in the double at last year’s U23 champs.
Another sculler with senior M2X experience this season is Serbian Aleksandar Filipovic. With Marko Marjanovic he finished 8th at both Lucerne and Belgrade. They also raced the the M2X at the World Championships in Chungju winning the “B” final.
Greece’s Dionysios Angelopolous (above) won the “B” final in this event last year following a bronze in 2012, and so far this season has been racing sweep in the senior team with a silver medal in the M4- at the Europeans.
One of the rising stars in sculling is Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk.
The reigning junior world 1X champion he competed at the European Championships in the M4X finishing a very creditable 5th. Picked as one of World Rowing’s “Rising Stars” he’s definitely one to watch for the future.
Romanian Marian-Florian Enache is making his first appearance at U23 level following 2 years on the junior team winning a silver in 2013 and a bronze in 2012.
Keep an eye out too for Germany’s Ruben Steinhardt (bronze medalists in the U23 quad last year) and France’s Hugo Boucheron who competed in the M4X at both Aiguebelette and Belgrade.
Of the scullers making their International debuts the most interesting is Federico Garibaldi who, along with his brother Francesco, won the World Coastal Rowing Championships in 2013.
My picks..Yotov has to start as favourite given his pedigree with Angelopolous in silver and Plocek in bronze.
22 scullers. Another event with a stand-out fvourite….Lithuania’s Milda Valciukaite
She’s already a senior world champion in the W2X following similar success at a Junior level in 2012 and 2011. This season the double with Donata Vistartaite have silver medals from both Belgrade and Lucerne. I do wonder why someone who has already achieved a senior world gold would feel the need to race at an age-group championships.
But, while Valciukaite looks to be the clear favourite there could be quite a battle behind her.
Great Britain’s Jess Leyden is the reigning Junior World Champion
Great things are expected of Jess in the coming years and a medal in her first year at U23 level would be a great step forward. But, she faces stiff opposition from the girl who held the JW1X title in the 2 years preceding Jess.
Germany’s Anne Beenken
she already has one year at U23 level under her belt with a 4th place in the 2X last year. She has also raced at the 2nd and 3rd World Cups this season finishing 7th in the 1X at Aiguebelette and 12th in the 2X at Lucerne.
A sculler entering her 4th consecutive U23 championships is Hungary’s Krisztina Gyimes.
The former University of California oarswoman has raced the W1X at the past 3 U23 World Championships finishing 5th in 2011 and 7th in both 2012 and 2013. The runner up in the Princess Royal Challenge Cup at Henley this year she will be a strong challenger for the medals.
Sara Magnaghi of Italy is another athlete with senior international experience
she was 10th in the W1x at Lucerne and 6th in the W4X at Chungju. At an U23 level she raced in the 4X last year finishing 4th and 5th in the same boat class the year before. She also had a great result at Piediluco regatta picking up the bronze behind Donata Vistartaite and Sanita Puspure.
A couple more scullers to highlight include Elza Gulbe of Latvia
bronze medalist in this event last year and then 12th at the senior Worlds. Also Tatsiana Klimovich, runner up to Jess Leyden at the junior worlds last year.
There are a few scullers making their international debut, including the USA’s Sam Casto of the University of Virgina who won the US’s U23 trials and Greece’s Sofia Asoumananki who won JW1X at this year’s Piediluco regatta.
My picks…I’ll be surprised if Valciukaite doesn’t win the gold but behind her it’s tough to call but I’m going to go with Magnaghi in silver and Beenken in bronze.
I think this is going to be a 2 horse race for the gold between the defending champion, the USA’s Andrew Campbell, and Greece’s Spyridon Giannaros.
Campbell is a tenacious sculler and has raced at senior level as well as U23. He doesn’t appear phased by racing scullers much bigger than him as can be seen in this photo of the podium at the Junior Worlds in 2010 when you could be mistaken for thinking it was a coxed pair!
Up against Campbell is Spyridon Giannaros
Giannaros beat Campbell in this event in 2012 and went on to win the LM2X at the European Championships that year and the senior LM4X title in 2013. This season he has a gold in the LM2x from the Sydney World Cup and was 4th in the LM1X at Lucerne. He’s an outstanding talent at just 22 and could well be a consistent feature on the podium in the 2020 Olympiad.
Behind these two “heavyweights” of lightweight sculling the chasing pack will probably be led by Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan.
He finished 3rd in this event last year and was 7th at the Aiguebelette World Cup.
Italy’s Francesco Pegoraro was 4th in the LM4X at the Worlds in 2012 and followed that up with a win in the U23 LM4X in 2013.
There are some interesting scullers making their debuts, look out for Bulgaria’s Grigor Manchev who raced at the Balkan Championships, GB’s Sam Mottram of Leander Club, South Africa’s James Brittain (younger brother of Olympic champion, Matthew) and Marek Hodrment of the Czech Republic who raced at the European Junior Championships in 2012.
My picks…it’s going to be tight between Greece and the US and I’m going for Giannaros to just pip Campbell for the gold with Italy’s Pegoraro in bronze.
Greece again will be one of the hot favourites for this event. Aikaterini Nikolaidu is the reigning U23 champion.
she’s also the senior World Championship silver medalist and the reigning European Champion. She raced at Lucerne finishing 2nd to New Zealand’s Julia Edward.
Behind the Greek the chase will be led by Belgium’s Eveline Peleman
she was 4th in this event last year and also made the “A” final at the European Championships.
Julie Marechal of France raced at the French World Cup this season finishing 4th following a 14th in the LW2X at the Europeans and a 9th place in this event last year.
Also keep an eye out for GB’s Emily Craig. The University of London sculler is competing in her 2nd U23 championships having picked up a bronze in the LW4X last year.
Also watch for Cyprus’s Anna Ioannou, 8th at the Europeans and 12th in this event last year. And Austria’s Anna Berger, 5th in the BLW1X in 2013.
My picks…a clear win for Nikolaidou with Julie Marechal in silver and Emily Craig in bronze.
An “A” finalist at the London Olympics, he won silver at Chungju, gold in Belgrade and also gold and bronze at the first and third World Cups this year. He’s possibly the most outstanding athlete at the entire regatta. He’s joined by Aurimas Adomavicius, himself the defending U23 World Champion in this event. They look to be an outstanding combination and will be very hard to beat.
The main competition may well come from the British, Jack Beaumont and Angus Groom.
They were both part of an outstanding GB M4x last year that just missed out on a medal after having to make a late substitution due to illness. This season they have mostly been racing in a quad and won at Ghent and also Henley. As a double they made their senior international debuts at Aiguebelette as the 2nd GB M2X winning the “C” final in a very strong field. They may not catch the Lithuanian’s but they will be clear favourites for the silver.
The challenge for the silver will also include the French, Mickael Marteau and Alberic Comerais.
These two are no strangers to the British double having finished 1 place behind them in the quad at last year’s U23’s. They’ve been racing together for a number of years having won silver together in the JM2X back in 2010. They have also raced on the senior circuit this season finishing 10th in the quad at Aiguebelette and 9th at Belgrade.
The Hungarians, Gergely Papp and Bendeguz Petervari-Molnar have been racing together since the Junior Worlds in 2011. They were in the U23 quad in 2012 and then the 2X last year finishing 4th.
Italy have a crew of Junior World Champions with Jacapo Mancini and Antonio Vicino who won gold in the JM4+ last year.
The final crew to highlight are the Aussies, David Watts and Max McQueeney. Watts won bronze in the U23 M8 in 2012 and McQueeney raced in the 1X at last years U23’s.
My picks….gold for Lithuania, silver for GB and bronze for France.
9 crews. A small field and one with no stand-out entry. The Romanians, Viviana-Iuliana Bejinaru and Ioana Vrinceanu won gold in the U23 quad last year following gold in the JW4X the year before
Germany have 2 experienced U23 internationals with Anna-Maria Goetz and Julia Leiding. Both have bronze medals from the World Junior Championships and Leiding finished 4th in the W2X at last years U23’s with her partner finishing 7th in the BW4- in 2012.
The French also have 2 athletes making their 2nd U23 appearance, Marie Jacquet and Daphne Socha . Jacquet finished 7th in the W4X and Socha 6th in the W2X. I would expect a strong “A” final placing from these two this year or possibly a medal.
The Norwegian’s have the same line-up that finished 5th last year, Inger Kavlie and Marianne Madsen. Kavlie is a freshman at the University of California and they will be strong contenders for a medal.
The US have a relatively inexperienced double with Margaret Bertasi, who learnt to row whilst at the American school in London and competed at the UK National Schools Regatta (winning a silver in the J16 1X) and is now at Princeton with whom she won the Varisty 4+ at the Eastern Sprints. She is joined by Zoe Fleischman who was also educated in the UK at the International School in Aberdeen, Scotland. She now studies at the University of Tulsa and is making her international debut.
Ukraine have the very experienced Natalia Kovalova at bow competing in her 4th U23 world Championships – although she’s yet to reach an “A” final – along with Anastasiia Horodilova at stroke making her U23 debut having raced at the Junior Worlds in 2012.
My picks…I’m going for a Romanian gold, French silver and Norwegian bronze
19 scullers. Overwhelming favourites here are the German’s Jason Osborne and Moritz Moos.
They are the defending champions and senior world silver medalists in the LM4X. This season they picked up a superb silver at Aiguebelette behind the all-conquering French LM2x and they have recently been selected for the senior World Championships ahead of last years LM2X Konstantin Steinhuebel and Lars Hartig. Illness forced a late withdrawal from Lucerne but they are an exciting double and, if fit, there will be few who can get close to them at Varese.
The only crew who may get within a couple of lengths of the Germans are the French; Pierre Houin and Eloi Debourdeau
They both raced at the U23’s last year with Houin finishing one place behind the Germans and Debourdeau also winning silver in the BLM4X.
Behind these 2 crews it’s the Dutch who have form with Conno Kuyt and Bart Lukkes both competing at their 3rd U23 championships.
Lukkes (left) was a bronze medalist in this boat class last year with Kuyt 7th in the BLM4-. They raced together in 2012 in the BLM4X finishing 6th.
Also racing at last year’s Championships were the Irish double of Shane O’Driscoll and Gary O’Donovan, they will be hoping to improve on the 12th place finish last year.
Like the Dutch, the Danes have a duo competing at their 3rd U23 championships. Mike Christensen and Mathias Larsen raced in the BLM2- and BLM2X respectively in 2013 and the BLM4- and BLM4X in 2012. The best result of the pair was Larsen who finished 4th in the light Quad in 2012.
The Poles have one returner from last year’s crew that finished 8th, Mateusz Drab. He’s joined by international debutant Krzysztof Strupinski.
The Kiwis have a proud tradition in this event at a senior level and at U23 they have the experienced Toby Cunliffe-Steel joined by Matthew Dunham who is making his debut. Dunham was 4th at the New Zealand championships in a field stacked with members of the New Zealand senior lightweight squad. He and Cunliffe-Steel raced at the Wold University Games in 2013 and were a little disappointed to not make the “A” final. It’ll be interesting to see what speed they have this year.
My picks…The German’s to win quite comfortably ahead of the French with a big battle for the bronze which the Dutch should win.
The German’s have a strong line up; Wiebke Hein won this event in 2012 and went on to compete in the LW1X at Chungju finishing 10th.
She’s joined by Leonie Pieper who finished 2nd last year and won a silver at Lucerne in 2011 as part of the LW4X
The main threat to the Germans will come from the Australians; Georgia Miansarow and Georgia Nesbitt
They finished 5th in the LW4X at Chunglu and raced together at Lucerne finishing a creditable 11th. At the U23’s last year they were 5th. They will certainly have expectations of a medal this year.
New Zealand have returning bronze medalist from this event; Sophie Mackenzie. This year she’s joined by 2012 junior bronze medalist Zoe McBride. Mackenzie has won bronze in this event for the past 2 years and will be hoping to go at least one place better this year.
The Romanians, Andreea Asoltanei and Ionela-Livia Lehaci raced at the European Championships this season winning the “B” final. Asoltanei raced this event last year just missing out on the medals. Her partner, Lehaci, was the Romanian JW1X last year finishing 9th.
The Swiss double of Frederique Rol and Patricia Merz also raced at the European Championships this year coming 9th. They also raced at Aiguebelette finishing in the “C” final. Rol is at her 3rd U23 Championships having finished 6th in both 2012 and 2013.
The Spanish duo of Mireia Ros I Martinez and Laura Monteso Esmel have swapped one oar for two, they won a bronze in the JW2- last year and are now stepping up to the U23 ranks.
The Canadians have 2 international debutants, Jill Moffat of Western University and Katherine Walker f Brock University, both women have medals from the Canadian University Championships.
The USA also have one athlete making her debut, Devin Norder from Stanford. She joins Shawna Sims who won a silver medal in the JW4X last year.
My picks…I think it’ll be a German 1-2 in the lightweight doubles, Romania to get silver and the Swiss bronze.
The standout crew here look to be the Italians, Matteo Lodo and Giuseppe Vicino.
These two started racing together internationally in 2011 when they won the JM8 world title. At the World Championships at Chungju they finished in 4th and at Lucerne they were 5th and will probably be part of the Italian M4- at the Amsterdam World Championships.
They will be pushed by the Greeks, Konstantinos Christomanos and Apostolos Lampridis.
Lampridis won thee JM2- title in 2010 and in 2012 he and Christomanos finished 6th in the BM2-. This season they placed 11th at the European Championships and also raced at Henley and finished 5th at the Piediluco regatta.
Spain have 2 highly experienced U23’s, Manuel Fernandez Lopez is competing in his 4th championships, with “A” final finishes in each year.He’s joined by Pau Franquet Monfort competing in his 3rd following a bronze medal in the BM2X last year.
The German’s have the same line-up that won the JM2- world title in 2012, Malte Daberkow and Finn Knueppel. They also raced for the Ger U23 M8 that raced Oxford in the build up to this year’s Boat Race.
The Serbian pairing of Viktor Pivac and Martin Mackovic were 3rd in the JM8 last year and raced in the M4- at the European Championships.
The USA have 2 oarsmen making their U23 international debuts, Cole Reiser and Jordan Vanderstoep are both from the University of California and were part of the Cal Bears Varsity crew that won a thrilling Ladies Challenge Plate final over Leander at Henley earlier this month.
My picks…I’m going for an Italian gold, Greek Silver and US bronze.
The Kiwis, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler have stormed onto the senior stage this season finishing 2nd at Lucerne and defeating their senior teammates Louise Trappitt and Rebecca Scown.
Rumour is this wasn’t the first time the U23’s had gotten the better of the NZ senior pair. But, for reasons best known to themselves the Kiwi selectors are sending (what appears to be) the slower boat to the senior World Championships.
Gowler and Prendergast were part of the NZ W8 that raced at the World Championships last year finishing 7th.
If they continue with the form they showed at Lucerne they will be very difficult to catch.
Leading the charge may well be the Australians, Jessie Allen and Genevieve Horton
They are the reigning JW2- world champions and also raced the U23 W2- last year finishing a very strong 4th. With an extra year under their belts they could be figuring quite high up on the podium.
The Italian duo of Beatrice Arcangiolini and Gaia Marzari finished one place ahead of the Australians at last year’s U23 championships. They also raced the senior world championships finishing 10th in the W2- and 9th in the W8. This season they have raced at Lucerne finishing 10th.
Another strong medal contender are the Ukranians, Ievgeniia Nimchenko and Daryna Verkhogliad. Nimchenko is racing at her 4th U23 Championships and this pairing finished 7th in the BW2- last year.
Romania have a returning U23 World Champion in Madalina Beres who won this event in 2012. This year she’s joined by Elena-Lavinia Tarlea, raving at her 3rd U23 Championships.
Elsewhere, the Canadians have two debutants from Saskatoon Rowing Club, Sierra Bronkhurst and Sabina Proctor. The USA have 2 athletes who won silver together in the JW4- back in 2010, Agatha Nowinski and Jessica Eiffert. Eiffert went onto win gold in the JW4- in 2011 but is only making her U23 debut this year. Nowinski raced at the U23’s in 2012 and 13 with a best result of 6th in the BW4X
My picks…I think it’ll be an Antipodean 1,2 with the Kiwis getting the better of the Aussies with the Italians in bronze.
I’m going to stick my neck out right at the start and say I’m going to pick GB for the win. Wilf Kimberley from Imperial College and Charlie Waite-Roberts from the University of the West of England are both U23 silver medalists from 2013. Kimberley in the LM2- and Waite-Roberts in the LM4-.Kimberley also raced the LM2- at the 1st World Cup in 2012 finishing an excellent 4th.
Their main challenge may come from the Czechs. Jan Hajek and Michael Humpolec finished one place behind the British last year. So far this season they have been racing in the senior LM4- and have a 7th place finish at Belgrade and an 11th at Lucerne to their credit.
The Italians have a reigning senior world champion onboard, Leone Barbaro won gold as a junior in 2011, gold as an U23 in 2012 and gold as a senior in 2013 (the latter in the LM8). At Varese he’s joined by Piero Sfiligoi from the Saturnia club who is making his international debut. With an athlete of the quality of Barbaro onboard it’s not going to be a slow combination.
The USA have a new pairing making their international debuts, Robert McNamara and August Wherry of Hobart College won the US trials and earned the right to race at the Championships.
A number of other crews are making their international debuts including the Germans Felix Bruemmel and Sven Ditzel from the Munster club and the Canadians Grayson Gray and James Myers from Brock University.
My picks….I’ve already said I think GB will win gold and I think the Italians will win silver ahead of the Czechs in bronze.
That’s it for part one of my preview, part 2…the fours, Quads and eights will follow tomorrow.