The race for World Championship status is not only at stake for Para rowers in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. The competition, which begins Sunday, also decides the first boats headed for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Here is a preview of each of the four Paralympic boat classes going for world titles and 30 Tokyo 2020 qualification slots:
PR1 men’s single sculls (PR1 M1x)
A top-seven finish will be the ticket to Tokyo. But with a record 27 entries, that will not be easy. Ukraine’s Roman Polianskyi will once again go up against rival Erik Horrie from Australia. Polianskyi and Horrie have been trading the top of the podium for the last few years, and it is always a surprise who will manage to get the win.
Watch out also for Russia’s 2018 Worlds bronze medallist Alexey Chuvashev who is competing for the first time this season.
But Great Britain’s Benjamin Pritchard, Brazil’s Rene Pereira and Lithuania’s Augustas Navickas could also push for the podium.
PR1 women’s single sculls (PR1 W1x)
Norway’s Birgit Skarstein has been dominating this boat class for the last two years. Israel’s Moran Samuel, who finished second at the third World Rowing Cup this year, is the 2018 World silver medallist and Skartein’s closest competitor. But young Ukrainian talent Anna Shermet has been rising in the ranks and most recently finished third at World Rowing Cup III. Hallie Smith from the USA would also like to upgrade her bronze medal from last year.
PR2 mixed double sculls (PR2 Mix2x)
Annika van der Meer and Corne de Koning from the Netherlands seem to be unstoppable. They are reigning world champions, World Best Time holders and have won every event they have entered so far this year. As there are 12 entries and eight Paralympic qualification spots, nothing is a given. Watch out for Poland, France and Ukraine, all regulars on the podium.
PR3 mixed coxed four (PR3 Mix4+)
The USA won the second World Rowing Cup, but the reigning world champions, Great Britain were not entered. Great Britain are back and have made several changes to their winning combination. Watch out too for Italy and France who have been working on their line-ups and finished second and third respectively at the second World Rowing Cup.
The IPC has named five rowers on its Ones to Watch list as the competition gets underway, with more information available on the IPC’s website.
More information on the 2019 World Rowing Championships is available on FISA’s website.