Opening the 2019 season this weekend was World Rowing Cup I in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and for the first time China finished at the top of the World Cup points table.
China came with a large team to Plovdiv and they showed their strength in several boat classes allowing them to win gold medals in the women’s and men’s double sculls, the lightweight women’s double sculls and the women’s quadruple sculls.
The World Rowing Cup featured 14 Olympic boat classes and two international boat classes and, at the end of racing, China had 61 points to become the overall winners. Poland finished in second with 45 points, just one point ahead of the Netherlands in third.
The women’s single sculls saw the return to the single by two former Olympic Champions, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus. Both raced in the final with Knapkova taking a bronze medal. The winner of the single was top Dutch sculler Lisa Scheenaard with Yan Jiang of China second.
Also returning to the single after an injury was 2016 Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin of Croatia. Martin dominated the men’s single sculls final finishing well ahead of Pilip Pavukou of Belarus and Finland’s Robert Ven. For Pavukou and Ven it was their first World Cup medal.
Belgium made a very solid start to this, the Olympic Qualification year, by winning the lightweight men’s double sculls. Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe finished ahead of Jerzy Kowalski and Artur Mikolajczewski of Poland and Portugal’s Afonso Costa and Olympian Pedro Fraga. The lightweight women’s double sculls was won by Qiang Wu and Dandan Pan of China over the Netherlands and Poland. Wu and Pan helped add to their country’s medal haul.
There was an upset in the men’s pair with Martin Mackovic and Milos Vasic of Serbia finishing ahead of the reigning World Champions Valent and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia. The Serbian duo led for the entire race with the Sinkovics unable to catch them. Spain was third.
The World Rowing Cup series was launched in 1997 and consists of a series of three regattas in the Spring of the year. The overall World Rowing Cup winners are determined at the third and final regatta. This year the three stages in the series are Plovdiv, Bulgaria (10-12 May), Poznan, Poland (21-23 June) and Rotterdam, the Netherlands (12-14 July).
Race results, race reports, photos and videos are available on www.worldrowing.com