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The 2021 World Rowing Indoor Championships crowned the fastest on the indoor rowing machine today with the big names competing in the 2000m distance. Three more World Records were broken.

The first race of the day saw Benjamin Smith from Australia smashing his own World Record by more than 2 seconds in the lightweight men’s 500m. It was clear right from the start that the Aussie was going for his World Record and he didn’t disappoint with a blistering 1:17.4. Behind Smith the field was incredibly tight with William Legge of Australia and Martino Goretti of Italy tied for second, just 0.1 ahead of Gregor Hall and 0.2 of Mohamed Alaa Elsayed of Egypt.

This shows the closeness of the results: 1. Benjamin Smith (AUS), 1:17.4, 2=. William Legge (AUS), 1:23.4, 2=. Martino Goretti (ITA), 1:23.4, 4. Gregor Hall (GBR), 1:23.5, 5. Mohamed Alaa Mohamed Elsayed Mohamed Kota (EGY), 1:23.6, 6. Boudina Sid Ali (ALG), 1:23.9

Ward Lemmelijn of Belgium is the reigning indoor under-23 Champion after winning in Paris last year. Now in the open men’s 2000m category, Lemmelijn’s jump to this blue ribband event proved to be nothing short of stunning. Although Vincent Matz, 4-time French champion in the 500m race, got off to a better start with a 1:27 pace, the Belgian rower patiently waited for his time. At the 1000m mark, Lemmelijn took over and never looked back with a steady rhythm of 35 strokes per minute. Lemmelijn knew this race was won and he really made a push to go sub 5:40 – only to finish with a sensational 5:42.2, the fastest time over the course of the Championships on the 2000m distance. Poland’s Bartosz Zablocki came in second thanks to an impressive last 500m, 3 seconds ahead of Moldova’s Chirill Visit Chi-Sestakov.

Right from the start of the open women’s 2000m, Sophie Souwer had the edge. The Dutch sculler, bronze medallist in the women’s quadruple sculls at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, got off to a better start with a 1:40 pace, holding a comfortable lead over Kirsten Kline of the United States. Kline was crowned World Champion earlier this week in the masters women’s 30-39-year-old category. Souwer sat on 1:41 and remained ahead of the competition with Kline way in front of Marilou Duvernay-Tardif of Canada who was in third. Going through the 250m to go Kline pushed to a 1:39 split, put on an epic sprint and overtook Sophie Souwer right before the finish line, with a time of 6:45.8, 3.2 seconds ahead of Souwer and 8.9 seconds of Duvernay-Tardif.  A formidable finishing sprint for the American.

In the under-19 women’s 2000m, there was an added motivation for Meg Knight of Great Britain as she had finished second earlier in the championships in the 500m race. Today Knight started out in the 2000m category with a race that looked all but won by fellow British rower Alice Baker. Then at the 1500m mark, Knight closed the gap averaging a 1:40 pace to finish in a time of 6:58.7, 0.6 seconds ahead of Baker. Anastasiya Rusak of Belarus was third.

The under-19 men’s 2000m race was also incredibly tight between 17-year-old Isaiah Harrison of the United States and Gabriel Obholzer of Great Britain. Harrison is a real force on the indoor rower, owning every world record possible on the indoor rower for the 15-16-year-old age group a year ago. Now competing at the under-19 level, Harrison showed his pure strength. Starting the race really strong, Harrison held off a late push by Obholzer. The two rowers were really close at the finish line, but it was Harrison who took home gold with a fast time of 5:52.5, ten seconds quicker than last year’s best time for a junior. Isaiah Harrison is clearly a name to remember for the years to come.

Last year’s junior indoor World Champion in both 500m and 2000m, Leo Muiste of Estonia proved again his domination on the indoor rowing machine in the under-23 men’s 500m. After an electric start, Muiste averaged a 1:15 pace with 42 strokes per minute and clocked a 1:16.3, 1.2 seconds better than his 2020 time. Coming in second was Pierre Bridier of France, 0.5 seconds ahead of Kristina Linklett Mortansson of Denmark.

One of the most anticipated events of the day was the 1-hour category. It was truly great racing between Margit Haahr Hansen from Denmark and Ghada Ibrahim of Egypt in the women’s race. They were separated by only one metre after 30 minutes. Both athletes gave it their all to the finish with Haahr Hanson eventually winning by the sightliest of margins. Only 3 metres separating her from Ibrahim.

In the men’s 1-hour event, Joel Naukkarinen of Finland was the overall favourite. But it turned out to be Germany’s Benjamin Reuter’s show. Slowly but steadily, the German built his lead over Naukkarinen and Tom Solesbury of Great Britain. Reuter had enough gas in the tank to increase his pace in the last two minutes. Reuter scored 18,270 metres over an hour, 255m more than Naukkarinen and 422m ahead of Solesbury.

The mixed 3-minute team test was again dominated by Finland 1, led by national indoor rowing hero Joel Naukkarinen, who had just completed his 1-hour test. But what a battle it was with Egyptian National Team with only 3 watts (or 2 metrss) separating the two teams at the finish line. Both teams went neck-and-neck for the whole 3 minutes of the event and it was impossible to predict who would win this one – only to see Finland 1 holding off Egypt at the line. Concept Fitness from New York came in third.

Para rowing

The men’s PR3 500m winner was the reigning 2020 World Rowing Indoor Champion Milan Lackovic of Slovakia with a World Record’s time of 1:20.1. Lakovic beat his own time by 0.4 seconds. Laurent Charlot of France came in second with Vaclac Trnka of Czech Republic in third. Another World Record was broken by Kathryn Ross of Australia in the women’s PR2 2000m, with an impressive 7:59.3, more than 35 seconds ahead of Jolanta Majka of Poland.

In the men’s PR2 2000m, it was an impressive win by Gian Filippo Mirabile of Italy, last year’s runner-up in the category, with a 7:02.5. The outcome of this race was never in doubt and the Italian won by more than 20 seconds over Michal Gadowski of Poland and Leopold Reimann of Germany.


There was drama in the masters men’s 40-49-year-old 500m, after Matthew West of Great Britain was disqualified for two false starts, Anton Grassl of Slovakia went on to be the winner scoring 1:14.6 ahead of Bogar Zoltan of Hungary with 1:16.0 and Simon Handley of Great Britain at 1:16.7.

For the masters women’s 40-49-year-old 500m race, it was an intense battle between the gold and silver medallists from last year, Georgia Peramatzi of Greece and Arabella Carbutt of Great Britain. And unlike last year, Peramatzi couldn’t keep up with Carbutt’s strong pace, only to see Carbutt take home gold with a 1:31.4.

In the masters men’s 50-54-year-old 500m race, nobody could keep up with Mark Roberson of Great Britain and his 1:17.3 time. Roberson finished ahead Joey Wurtz from the United States and Mark Fountaine from Australia. It was a similar easy win for USA’s Rhesa Ashbacher in the masters women’s 50-54-year-old 500m race, clocking a 1:35.1 which was quicker than her qualifying time. Malin Faraasen of Sweden was second with 1:37.4 and Australia’s Caroline Byrne was third with 1:41.6.

For the full list of results here.
Watch again here.