Ancuta Bodnar (b), Simona Radis (s), Women's Double Sculls, Romania, Gold, 2022 World Rowing Championships, Racice, Czech Republic / Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com

When Simona Radis and Ancuta Bodnar crossed the finish at the 2022 World Rowing Championships their unbeaten streak went to 18 consecutive races. They had won the Women’s Double Sculls.

Romania’s Radis and Bodnar are the 2022 World Rowing Women’s Crew of the Year and they join an impressive line of top Romanian women rowers. But instead of the pair, like many top Romanian women, it’s the double that has led to their success and this is despite being just 23 and 24 years old respectively.

Both rowers came to rowing through the Romanian talent identification system where they became part of the national sports system. Both found success quickly with Radis making the Romanian national team just a year after taking up the sport. Bodnar was just 15 when she made the junior national team.

The duo raced in a variety of different boats before they were put together in the double in 2019. They gained instant success picking up a silver at that year’s European Rowing Championships. Radis and Bodnar went on to win another silver at the 2019 World Rowing Championships before beginning, what would become, a two-year slog to get to the Tokyo Olympics.

During the 2021 season, Radis and Bodnar were able to race twice before competing at the Olympics. Both times they finished first (World Rowing Cup II and European Rowing Championships). Then on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, the duo became Olympic Champions.

“We had our best races (at the Olympics),” says Bodnar. “Our entire preparation was aimed at competing at the highest level. We did the best race we’ve ever done – it was a personal best time and an Olympic World Best Time.”

For 2022 Radis and Bodnar doubled up at the European Championships to win the eight and the double. At the World Championships they focused back on the double, racing to become World Champions on the day Bodnar turned 24. Then a last-minute substitution had Radis filling in stroke seat of the Romanian eight to race just an hour after her doubles win. The eight won.

“It’s great to be in a big boat,” says Radis. “There’s more speed. So when our coach asks us about doubling up we say ok, it’ll be fun so why not?”

Through a video call for the World Rowing Awards, Radis thanked the huge number of people behind the duo’s success including the Romanian Rowing Federation, the doctors and physiotherapists and their team mates.

“It was a great year for us. A hard one but at the same time great,” says Radis. “There were some challenges but we made it right and after the final we can say that this was a perfect year.”

Both Radis and Bodnar now have their sights fixed firmly on Paris 2024.

“The next most important race for us are the next World Rowing Championships because we want to qualify for the Olympic Games,” says Radis. “Then after that we’ll think about the Olympics. We want to win one more gold medal.”

“We also want to break the World Best Time in the double,” adds Bodnar.

The Women’s Crew of the Year Award has been going since 2002 and this is the first time Romania has won. Radis and Bodnar’s finalists included Emily Craig, Imogen Grant, Great Britain, Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls, Heidi Long, Rowan Mckellar, Samantha Redgrave, Rebecca Shorten, Great Britain, Women’s Four and Karolien Florijn, Netherlands, Women’s Single Sculls.