Linz-Ottensheim 2019: Roman Polianskyi rows to birthday glory

Ukrainian among world champions crowned as boats also qualify for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics 02 Sep 2019
Man in row boat looks on
Roman Polianskyi won the 2019 world title with a World Best Time
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By IPC and World Rowing

Ukraine’s Roman Polianskyi got the perfect gift for his 33rd birthday with a resounding victory at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic champion stole not only the title from his rival Erik Horrie, but also the Australians’ World Best Time after clocking 9:12.99 in the men’s PR1 M1x.

Polianskyi led the way at the start and widened his lead over eventual silver medallist Alexey Chuvashev from Russia. Horrie came in third.  

“I’m exhausted but today I’m 33 so this is the best present for me,” Polianskyi said. “My plan changed as I raced but it went well.”

The highest ranked boats in each of the four Paralympic medal events earned their nation’s a slot at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, giving last year’s champion Horrie hope ahead.

“It wasn’t my day today but I’m happy to come away with a medal considering the season I’ve had coming back from injury,” Horrie said.

Dutch crew shocked

The Dutch crew of Annika van der Meer and Corne de Koning could not make it three-in-a-row in the PR2 Mix2x.

Rather, it was the British boat of Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley who served spoils, followed by France’s Perle Bouge and Christophe Lavigne. 

The Dutch took off at a blistering start, but the Brits held the pace of the Dutch to stay within reach. The sprint was on in the last 500m of the 2,000m course, as both crews increased their stroke rate, with Great Britain winning by almost three seconds ahead. 

Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley rocked the PR2 Mix2x final by upsetting Annika van der Meer and Corne de Koning


“This has felt like a long time coming but we’ve worked really hard for this,” Whiteley said. “This result means everything. It will take a long time to process. I have to give lots of credit to the Dutch today.”

De Koning said: “A kind of disappointed about the result because we are two-time world champions. We really hoped to extend our championship here. But as the Paralympic champions, they (Great Britain) pulled out a really great race, they gave us some good challenge, they deserved.”

Skarstein keeps rowing on

Norway’s Birgit Skarstein captured her third consecutive world title, just five seconds shy of her own World Best Time in the PR1 W1x. 

There was no surprise when the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympian got out in front of the rest of the field. Her biggest challenger came from France’s Nathalie Benoit, who was coming back to rowing after last racing at the 2012 Paralympics. But Skarstein managed to widen the gap with Benoit, who came in second, followed by Israel’s Moran Samuel.

Birgit Skarstein has been unstoppable in the PR1 W1x


“I was pushing hard, we were all pushing hard,” Skarstein said. “There wasn't one part of the moment I felt safe. This result feels really good, and it's only an award for all the hard work we've put in.”

Benoit said: “That was the first time it has been close between me and Birgit. It’s much more exciting to race like this. I have a good relationship with her and I am very happy for her result.”

British maintain dominance

There was more golden glory for Great Britain, as the PR3 Mix4+ crew dominated the final.

Great Britain had set a new World Best Time earlier in the week, and had no trouble maintaining their lead throughout the final to win more than 10 seconds ahead of the USA, followed by Italy in third.

Great Britain captured their ninth straight world title in the PR3 Mix4+


The crew of Ellen Buttrick, Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox, Oliver Stanhope and Erin Wysocki-Jones helped the nation secure their ninth consecutive title. 

“We executed our race plan really well, especially after this challenging year,” Wysocki-Jones said. “Our priority this year was to qualify and we did that in the semi-final which was great. There is some pressure now to perform in Tokyo but it’s a big privilege.”