The curtain closed yesterday on the 2014 World Rowing U23 Championships in Italy. Canada’s lone gold medal hung proudly around the necks of the five men from the coxed four.
The crew of Trofym Anderson, Michael Thornton, Martin Barakso, Tim Shrijver and coxswain Jacob Koudys won their heat convincingly on the first day of competition in a time of 6:27.15 and qualified directly to Saturday’s A final.
Coached by Terry Paul, the crew got off to a slow start in the final and was sitting fifth after the first 500m. Quickly making up a 0.60 second deficit, the Canadian crew moved through the field maintaining a 37-stroke rate to take the lead at the 1000 meter mark. The Canadians never relinquished their position in the latter part of the race despite some late charges from other countries. Tired but happy, the five men were crowned World Rowing U23 Champions.
“This is a pretty amazing feeling, doing all the hard work and then seeing it pay off,” said stroke Tim Shrijver. “It was super exciting from stroke seat to see most of the race, I could see that New Zealand kept moving on us but we stayed patient and stuck to our race plan.”
In the previous race, Canada’s U23 women’s four claimed a bronze medal in 6:47.42. The race was dominated by the USA crew who took an early lead, opening up a 3.49 second lead by the 1500 meter marker. The Canadian crew of Zoe Fettig-Winn, Michelle Aylard, Hillary Janssens and birthday girl Nicole Hare, stroking 36, held onto second position for much of the race before New Zealand was able to lift the pace and overtake the Canadians with only a few hundred meters to go.
“The girls executed a really gutsy race plan, they went out really hard and were right in it as planned,” said coach Michelle Darvill. “It’s always great to end up on the podium, though we would’ve liked a different colour but we had really good competition today and considering how young this crew is, we’ll be training hard to improve the performance for next year.”
The final medal for Canada came later in the day with Grayson Gray and James Myers winning bronze in the lightweight men’s pair. After winning both their heat and semi-final, the duo, coached by Phil Marshall, went into Saturday’s final as serious contenders.
The Czech Republic had a strong start, putting almost three seconds on the rest of the field in the first 500 meters. The Canadian pair was sitting back in fifth position. By the 1000 meter mark, the Czech Republic had extended their lead to over four seconds but a battle between Great Britain, Germany and Canada started eating up the Czech lead. Gray and Myers charged for the finish line crossing the line in third, half a second behind Great Britain, the silver medal crew.
“We knew that the Czech Republic was fast but we didn’t expect them to go out that fast, taking a six second lead on us in the first 500m,” said Grayson Gray. “We executed our race plan but it just wasn’t really enough to take down Great Britain or Czech Republic. The standard is so high here, racing is so fast but I’ll be back.” Gray has two more years left of Under 23 eligibility. This was Canada’s first lightweight men’s U23 medal since 2005.
Earlier in the day, the women’s pair of Sabina Proctor and Sierra Bronkhorst contested the B final crossing the line in a time of 7:40.47 behind Norway and Ukraine, placing ninth overall.
The lightweight women’s double sculls crew of Jill Moffatt and Katherine Walker contested the C final and finished in a time of 7:24.01 behind Denmark and Iran, placing 15th overall.
On the final day of racing, two Canadian crews contested B finals. Matthew Finley, Taylor Perry, Graham Peeters and replacement Tim Schrijver demonstrated what they are made off by winning the men’s quadruple sculls B final in a time of 5:52.45. Schrijver jumped in to help the crew after Matthew Wortley injured himself following a tough semi-final the day before.
After a convincing win in their Thursday heat, the men disappointingly missed out on the A final by placing fourth in Saturday’s highly competitive semi-final. All four crews crossed the line within two seconds of each other, with only the top three moving on to the final.
The lightweight men’s four also raced the B final. The crew of Samuel Frum, Lucas Farewell, Cameron Howie and Matthew Segal crossed the line in a time of 6:16.10, placing tenth overall.
Canada sent seven crews to compete at this year’s U23 Rowing World Championships in Varese, Italy. The team ended the week placing 10th out of 55 nations in the overall medal standings.