Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Top Performances from U23 Worlds: USA, New Zealand Golden

The 2014 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, as usual, showcased the 'next generation' of senior level greats, but perhaps more so this year than last. Why? The Kiwi women's pair absolutely dominated their race, setting the only world best time of the regatta in Varese, and look like they're already contenders at the senior level given their silver at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. It looks like the path to glory in Rio will see more fireworks in the pairs between GB and NZ, this time on the women's side—and given the upside of this newly formed duo of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, we expect that Brits Heather Stanning and Helen Glover will have a fight on their hands.


Also among the top performances, of course, was that of the Kiwi men's eight—the All Blacks entered as the favorites, and didn't disappoint, taking their second title in as many years at the U23 level. The results for the rest of the podium, however, were somewhat surprising—Australia (with a crew made up entirely of athletes attending, or who recently attended, U.S. universities) rowed an excellent race, and timed their charge to take advantage of a fading U.S. crew that had thrown all the cards down on the table mid-race to see if they could topple the New Zealanders. Still, the U.S. eight held off Germany and a charging Italy to earn a trip to the medal ceremony—a bronze to back up their silver from last year (in fact, you have to go back to 2009 to find the last time the U.S. BM8+ did not earn a medal).

In the women's events, you can pretty much forget about it when it comes to U.S. athletes sweep boats—the U.S. women's eight won its third-straight world title (fourth in the last five years), with a crew that had six of its eight athletes doubling up in other events (the pair and the four—silver and gold, respectively).


On a 'lighter' note, Harvard's Andrew Campbell did it again. Campbell is the first back-to-back U23 LM1x winner since Mohsen Shadi Naghadeh of Iran won in 2009 and 2010, and it marks the third-straight season that Campbell has been on the U23 podium (including his bronze-medal performance from 2011).

Looking closely at the results above, as well as the overall medal distribution versus the number of athletes on both the U23 and senior teams, its easy to argue that Rowing New Zealand is the best team in the world right now, with the biggest test yet still on the horizon in Amsterdam. Now all that's left to figure out is a Twitter handle for the new-look NZ women's pair—might we suggest, @kiwwipair?

-RR

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