Five days of racing concluded with a feast of gold medals for Italy and Great Britain at the 2019 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. Taking place at the Nathan Benderson Park regatta course in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, United States, the regatta saw Italy and Great Britain win six gold medals each in the 22 boat classes that were raced.
Overall Italy took the most medals with a total of 11. One of their six golds came in the women’s coxed four that set a new under-23 World Best Time. Also winning Italian gold was the lightweight men’s and women’s pair, lightweight men’s and women’s quadruple sculls and the men’s double sculls. Fun seemed to be the key for the Italian team.
“We really wanted to have fun and race our race,” said coxed four winner Claudia Destefani. “The last 500m wat the best feeling in my life,” said Alberto Zamariola who rowed in the lightweight men’s quadruple sculls.
The British team won eight medals overall and matched Italy’s score by securing six gold medals. The British golds came predominantly in boats with four people – the men’s and women’s quadruple sculls and the men’s and women’s four. Gold was also struck in the lightweight women’s single sculls and the blue ribband boat class, the men’s eight.
The win for Great Britain in the men’s eight saw them get out ahead of the reigning under-23 world champions, the United States, right from the start. Despite strong pressure from the US crew, the British managed to stay just in front until the line. The United States was second and the Netherlands finished third, just 0.15 of a second behind the Americans. The Netherlands scored a second eights medal when they won the women’s eight. The Dutch had a very close race with Great Britain but then managed to pull away in the second half of the race to take gold. Behind the British, the United States were third.
Greece, which finished fourth-equal on the medals table, set a new under-23 World Best Time during the semifinals. Christina Bourmpou and Maria Kyridou of Greece raced to the new fastest time in the women’s pair. The duo then went on win the final of the pair ahead of South Africa and Russia.
Overall 18 nations took home medals and this included host nation the United States. The US finished with seven medals including a world championship title in the lightweight men’s single sculls. Winner Samuel Melvin was surprised by his win.
“It surpassed all of my expectations as I was just looking to get a medal.” Melvin only just got into the final after finishing third in his semifinal. But the American is no stranger to top racing after medalling last year at the under-23 championships in the lightweight quad.
The World Rowing Under 23 Championships is raced in 22 gender equal boat classes and is open to all World Rowing Federation (FISA) member nations for rowers under the age of 23. The under-23s began in 1976 as the ‘Seniors Match’ and then the name was changed to the ‘Nations Cup’ before becoming the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in 2005.