A stunning weekend of racing saw world-leading times set across the board at the second Para rowing World Cup of the year in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria.
Ukraine's Paralympic champion Roman Polianskyi and Norway's world champion Birgit Skarstein both smashed their existing best times in their respective 2000 metre races during their heats, and went on to win their finals.
Polianskyi set a time of 9:33.12, six seconds faster than the former time recorded in 2017 by Australia’s Erik Horrie in the PR1 men’s single sculls (PR1 M1x). The Ukrainian then went on to win the final by a commanding 12 seconds ahead of Russia’s Alexey Chuvashev* for his second consecutive World Cup triumph. Great Britain’s Andrew Houghton was third.
In the women’s equivalent (PR1 W1x), Skarstein's time of 10:24.48 was an impressive 23 seconds faster than her own record set at the last World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia. In the final, she quickly took the lead and never looked back to also secure back-to-back World Cup victories. Ukraine’s Anna Sheremet finished runner-up, with Germany's Sylvia Pille-Steppart in third.
“That was good, I found the wind was quite tricky,” explained Skarstein.
“I think there was a head wind, then a tail wind and then a cross-wind but I really tried to get into the rhythm and then at the 1300 metres I made a push until the end."
It was a good World Cup for Netherlands, who ended the competition with two golds and one silver. Corne de Koning won the PR2 men's single sculls (PR2 M1x) in the first of two events he competed in. Great Britain’s Laurence Whiteley was second and Italy’s Gianfilippo Mirabile in third.
“It was a good race, racing the single is an extra challenge as we (had) the double in two hours,” said De Koning.
“It’s good to have a race before and still feel as if you have energy left. I think it is important that we rowed the single and that we make the Para fields bigger."
De Koning’s compatriot Annika van Der Meer raced in the women’s equivalent (PR2 W1x) but could not keep up with France's winner Perle Bouge.
Van Der Meer did get to celebrate a gold when she paired with De Koning in the PR2 mixed double sculls (PR2 Mix2x). Silver went to Brazil’s Josiane Lima and Michel Gomes Pessanha; and third to Poland’s Jolanta Majka and Michal Gadowski.
A single second separated the gold and silver medallists in the PR3 mixed coxed four (PR3 Mix4+). Ukraine’s crew of Stanislav Samoliuk, Yelyzaveta Korolenko, Dmytro Herez, Olexandra Yankova and cox Marharyta Moskalets held on to win. Italy – comprised of Lucilla Aglioti, Luca Agoletto, Greta Muti, Tommaso Schettino and cox Giuseppe Di Capua – were runners-up.
The host nation did enjoy a victory in one of the new Para rowing events, the PR3 mixed double sculls (PR3 Mix2x). Johanna Beyer and David Erkinger captured Austria’s lone medal over the weekend.
“It was a great race in total, we had a bad start but by 1000 metres we had drawn level and we were even. Then the last 200 metres we really sprinted and I increased our speed,” said Beyer.
“It was a great experience to race in our home country and we hope to be back for the World Championships in 2019,"
In the test race for the PR3 men's pair (PR3 M2-), another new event, Great Britain’s Daniel Brown and Oliver Stanhope won ahead of two French boats.
“We were nervous coming into the new event and we just wanted to see what we could do. We had a shaky start but we settled into a good rhythm," said Stanhope. Complete results from the World Rowing Cup II can be found online
The Linz-Ottensheim venue is the site for the 2019 World Rowing Championships, which will also be the first opportunity for rowers to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games. For further information please click here.