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Prague puts on an show as indoor rowing champions win again

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STORY COURTESY WORLD ROWING

The 2024 World Rowing Indoor Championships, presented by Concept2, came to a close on Saturday with two fantastic races in the World Rowing Versa Challenge. Before that, Ward Lemmelijn of Belgium and Czechia Pavlína Flamíková’s titles in the men’s and women’s 23-39 2000m races highlighted a packed day of racing.

Finland’s Joel Naukkarinen and the USA’s Elizabeth Gilmore successfully defended their Versa Challenge titles with performances showing strength and consistency across the weekend. Both went into the final challenge, the Chase, in the lead and were able to look back on their opponents as they took comfortable wins.

In the men’s competition, the day saw several changes in placings but it was Great Britain’s Cameron Buchan and Pole Maciej Zawojski who came away with silver and bronze; Zawojski securing the medal with a strong final piece in the Chase. The women’s podium was completed by Britain’s Charlotte Dixon and Jessica Eddie. Three-time Olympian Eddie, given a wild card to participate in the Versa Challenge, showed why she deserved her spot with a fantastic sprint to overtake Morgan McGrath for bronze.

In the men’s 23-39 2000m event, Belgium’s Ward Lemmelijn was determined to not only regain his World Rowing Indoor Championship title, but also break Josh Dunkley-Smith’s world record of 5:35.8. He achieved the former, winning decisively in 5:43.2, but missed the latter.

Host nation Czechia won gold and silver in the women’s 23-39 2000m. Pavlína Flamíková’s training was disrupted by a car crash at the start of the season, but she has bounced back impressively and won the women’s 23-39 2000m in 6:47.6, ahead of compatriot Anna Šantrůčková and early leader, Britain’s Kathryn Mole.

Czechia’s other medals included silver in the lightweight men’s 23-39 2000m. Jiri Simanek was defending champion, but was unable to catch Germany’s Florian Roller (racing virtually) in the final 500m. Roller won in 6:09.7 with Simanek recording a personal best of 6:10.9 for silver.

Germany’s Alexandra Föster has already shone on the world stage with world under-19 and under-23 titles in the women’s single sculls and success at senior level too. Competing virtually, she added gold in the women’s 21-22 2000m category with a controlled, even-paced row in a time of 6:48.4 – adding to her under-19 title from 2020.

Much of the morning’s racing was taken up with 500m sprints, first for the para and Under 19 athletes and then for those aged 40 and over. Three records were set during the course of the racing: Egypt’s Alaa Ibrahim won the men’s PR1 500m in 1:43.1, a world record for the 30-39 age group in this category. Denmark’s Merete Boldt beat her own world record, rowing a 1:55.1 for women aged 75-79, and Britain’s Valerie Coleman set a record for heavyweight women aged 95-99, finishing in 2:57.8.

World Rowing Indoor Commission member Eric Murray, himself a former world record holder in several indoor rowing events, said the weekend had showed how the sport is growing through innovation.

“There is a very good appetite for the sport of indoor rowing,” Murray said. “It’s a fantastic event, still so many things we can do with it, but you can give it a very good five-star rating for what it is and know that without a doubt it can only get better and better. People were engaged, you saw them coming back into the stands to watch the Versa event because this is different.”

“There’s so many different things that you can do with indoor rowing. The people around, you can hear them talking about what they’ve been doing online and the communities that there are and that shows the connectivity between the communities that are out there in indoor rowing. And if that doesn’t show you that this is getting bigger and better every day, I don’t know what does.”

To re-watch all the races, go to our YouTube Channel.

To check the results and the photo galleries, go to our website.

The post Prague puts on an show as indoor rowing champions win again appeared first on Rowing News.

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