Records tumble at Mizuno British Rowing Indoor Championships

As virtual racing around the world continues, BRIC continues to go from strength to strength. Fergus Mainland reports

For the second year in a row, the power of technology united the indoor rowing community. The Mizuno British Rowing Indoor Championships saw 871 rowers from 32 different countries pick up the gauntlet and accept the challenge of BRIC 2021. Racing was fast and furious right from the get-go and saw new records set throughout the day. In 140 events, we were treated to 55 championship records, six British records while three provisional world records also fell by the wayside.

This year’s broadcast brought with it an exciting twist. Race headquarters came live from Caversham, the home of the Great Britain Rowing Team and competitors were able to test themselves against the very best in the country as our squad members on the Olympic and Paralympic teams lined up for their crack at BRIC.

The sport of rowing presents several unique opportunities. One of these is the ability to directly compare yourself to the very best in the world, either competing against them at the same time or comparing race results over the same distance. This has such a positive impact because it allows the next generation to see exactly how to get where they want to in the future. It keeps our next round of Olympians and Paralympians hungry for more and it inspires those getting into the sport for the first time knowing that their heroes were in their shoes once.

Benjamin Pritchard was one of those inspiring the next generation. Pritchard has been one of the stars of the Paralympic squad. After finishing fifth at the Tokyo Paralympics, he’s kick-started the new season in fantastic form, provisionally setting a new world and British record for the PR1 men’s 2,000m, beating his own previous records.

There was also a provisional British record for international discus thrower Jade Lally in the women’s one minute race and our eldest female competitor Val Coleman broke the world, British and championships records in the women’s 90-94 2km race. Also showing that age is no barrier to indoor rowers, fellow master, Alan Bell, 95, broke the championship record for the 90-95 lightweight men’s 2km race.

Coleman has been one of the stars during the emergence of virtual racing and she also added the British 90-94 500m to the list of records she’s broken over the past year or so. It’s worth noting that last week Val was awarded The Sport Pembrokeshire Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sport. Her club – Fishguard and Goodwick Jemima Rowing Club – also achieved Sports Pembrokeshire Club of the Year. Indoor Rowing is certainly giving us lots of opportunity to excel. British triumphs also came from Bett Osbourne who provisionally set the record in the lightweight 75-79 category and Marjorie Roome who has provisionally broken the 70-74 women’s 2,000m British record too.

The Open 2,000m racing always provides some great racing. Georgina Brayshaw from the GB Rowing Team was in a league of her own as she stormed to victory in the women’s event. On the men’s side of things, Ben Mitchell edged out Christopher Bailey by one second.

One of the standout moments was the GB Rowing Team Relay. The rowing world watched as 36 members of the Caversham-based squad went hammer and tongs for 500m. The winning team, with an average time of 1:25.9 was Freddie Davidson, Caragh McMurtry, Oli Wilkes and Sam Redgrave.

BRIC commentator Jack Dryden said afterwards: “Hosting the event from Caversham this year was also a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes of the GB Rowing Team HQ and meet our national athletes in their home environment.

“Hopefully we’ve given them some insight into what life could be like – particularly for our younger competitors – if they pursue a future in rowing at the highest level.

“For anyone watching, I think you can’t help but be inspired to get active and see what you can do. With a little training we are all capable of amazing things!”

As we all know, sport has the power to transform lives and at this year’s BRIC, through the power of technology we were able to be joined by athletes at HMP Stocken, Rutland, who have been using sport to help with rehabilitation. Athletes were competing in various events throughout the day including the men’s 4 x 1,000m relay  which they won, in addition to an individual silver in the Open Super Sprints men’s one minute sprint.

As always, the juniors provided some of the most exciting racing. The 500m sprints were electric and the Year 10 Girls’ event was the best of the bunch. There was just 0.3s separating the top three in a race won by Sophie Wharfe. In the sixth form 2,000m events it was Mattias Durhuus and Ellie Dash who won their respective categories.

Throughout the day there was also a great deal of success for our international competitors. Dénia Amon of Ruderclub Hansa Dortmund, Germany took gold in the 55-59 lightweight women’s 500m sprint. There was some unbelievable racing in the 40-49 women’s 500m race, with Henrietta Högberg of Sweden just holding off Tereza Horejsova from the Czech Republic and GB’s Sally Lancaster. One and a half seconds separated the three!

On the men’s side of things, the USA’s David Harris triumphed in an all-star international line-up for the 50-54 500m race. Terje Kydland from Norway was second with Paul Cholmsky from Canada completing a truly international podium.

Finally, it’s worth highlighting the men’s 60-64 200m race. This was won by Danish competitor Martin Mario Jelani, however, silver medallist Joseba Saies Alzua of Spain broke the Spanish Concept2 record in the process!

The fun continues in our online league which is open until 5pm on Sunday 12 December. If you’ve been inspired by weekend’s racing, why not get on a machine at your local gym, club, school, college or university to see what you can do and enter your time into our live league tables? We have a whole range of events you can enter from one-minute challenges to 8 x 500m pieces, with a chance to win one of 200 medals for those who submit results for four out of six challenges.

Find out how to enter here.

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