World U23 Championships: Medal hopefuls explain how previous experiences will drive them to success

Several members of the GB team for the World Rowing U23 Championships competed in Rotterdam last year, while some have made their senior debuts in 2017

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Harry Glenister (middle) in the U23 men’s quadruple scull at World Rowing Cup I in Belgrade (Naomi Baker)

Previous experiences is the key for a number of crews aiming for medals at this week’s World Rowing U23 Championships, which take place between 19-23 July in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Several medallists from 2016’s successful regatta in Rotterdam return to the team, while other young rowers have gained experience from racing in the senior team during the 2017 season.

Three members of the silver medal-winning women’s eight from Rotterdam remain in the boat for the 2017 Championships, including cox Sasha Adwani of Newcastle University BC.

“Having the experience in the boat has been really helpful,” she says, with Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne and Heidi Long also returning to the crew. “Between the three of us we’ve really been able to guide the crew. The newer faces have been amazing – they’ve just got in the boat and gotten on with the training.

“We’ve had a unique year in that we’ve raced right from Henley Women’s Regatta up to the World Championships, so we’ve had a good chance to build a crew, build the trust and it feels like an experienced boat.”

Last year the British boat finished second behind a strong crew from the USA, but held off Russia in third by nearly a length. Adwani expects a tough challenge from all the nations on the start line, but is confident that GB can achieve the result they want by focusing on their own race.

“Even though [in 2016] the Americans had moved away we kept ourselves in our boat and controlled the race we had on our hands,” she says.

“Coming out with a silver was an amazing experience – we didn’t necessarily expect it, but it was an awesome result. The biggest thing for us is that we had matched [the performance] of the women’s eight in the Olympics.

“Every year is a new year, and while the USA will be strong again it’s still a six-boat race in the final. Everyone will be fast, so we’ll just go out and be as fast as we possibly can be to get the result that we want.”

The U23 men’s quad, meanwhile, were among those athletes featuring in the senior team this year, having made their debuts at World Rowing Cup I in Belgrade in early May.

There the crew, consisting of Andy Joel, Harry Glenister, Rowan Law and Harry Leask, finished a creditable fourth place, one place behind the senior British boat, and went on to enjoy a successful summer as a quartet.

Their victory in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup for Leander Club meant that Glenister became the first rower to win all of the quadruple sculls trophies at Henley Royal Regatta, shortly before Jack Beaumont matched the achievement.

“It was a great experience for me to win all three quad events and even more special to become the first person to achieve that,” he says. “Henley is a very different event to the World Championships – it’s one-on-one racing, while the Worlds is multi-lane. I’m under no illusion that the intensity of the Worlds is a lot higher than Henley and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

He adds: “It was an amazing experience to race in Belgrade. I’ve never raced at that level than before – it was a lot more intense than I’m used to.

“I learned a lot about racing in the first kilometre. In our heat we got caught napping and we were quite far down. But as the regatta progressed we got better in that first kilometre and we got into the race a lot more.”

The World Rowing U23 Championships get underway on Wednesday afternoon, with the finals scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. You will be able to follow all of the action at worldrowing.com.

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