Cornelis De Koning, PR2 Men's Single Sculls, Netherlands 2023 World Rowing Cup II, Varese, Italy / Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com

The 2023 World Rowing Championships are almost upon us and this week we’re previewing the crews to keep an eye on in Belgrade. Today, we look at the Para rowing events.

PR1 Women’s Single Sculls (PR1 W1x)

Entries: 14
Reigning World Champion: Birgit Skarstein (NOR)

Can anyone beat Birgit Skarstein? That is surely the question being asked by the Norwegian’s rivals going into the World Rowing Championships. Since her international debut Skarstein has missed the podium just once – fourth at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. In the following years she has won every race she has competed in. Skarstein set a World Best Time of 9:47.83 at World Rowing Cup II this year and just looks stronger than ever. Chasing her are regular medallists Moran Samuel (ISR), Nathalie Benoit (FRA), Anna Sheremet (UKR), and Manuela Diening (GER), as well as Switzerland’s Claire Ghiringhelli, who made her international debut this season with A-Final finishes at the European Rowing Championships and World Rowing Cup II.

PR1 Men’s Single Sculls (PR1 M1x)

Erik Horrie, PR1 Men’s Single Sculls, Australia, 2022 World Rowing Championships, Racice, Czech Republic / Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com

Entries: 23
Reigning World Champion: Roman Polianskyi (UKR)

The last couple of years have been a constant battle for supremacy between reigning World and Paralympic Champion Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine and Italy’s Giacomo Perini, 2022 and 2023 European Champion. While Perini came out on top in Bled, it was Polianskyi who won at World Rowing Cup II this year with a comfortable eight-second victory. Largely absent from the scene so far this year have been 2022 World bronze medallist Benjamin Pritchard (GBR), due to surgery in April and the birth of his daughter in June, and Paralympic silver medallist Erik Horrie (AUS), but both could challenge for the medals. Uzbek newcomer Egamberdiev Kholmurod, Germany’s Marcus Klemp, and Israeli Shmuel Daniel are also all worth keeping an eye on among a huge entry in this event.

PR2 Mixed Double Sculls (PR2 Mix2x)

Entries: 13
Reigning World Champions: Svitlana Bohuslavska, Iaroslav Koiuda (UKR)

Last year’s World Championships opened up the PR2 Mixed Double Sculls field in the absence of Paralympic Champions Great Britain, and it was Ukraine who took advantage as Svitlana Bohuslavska and Iaroslav Koiuda triumphed over Poland in a close battle. But Britain’s Lauren Rowles and her new partner Gregg Stevenson were dominant when they returned, setting World Best Times at the World Rowing Cup II ahead of Ukraine. Experienced Dutch double Corne de Koning and Chantal Haenen were silver medallists in Bled, but the Polish and Irish crews are also very much in the mix in what has become an increasingly tight event.

PR3 Mixed Double Sculls (PR3 Mix2x)

Entries: 14
Reigning World Champions: Elur Alberdi, Laurent Cadot (FRA)

The PR3 Mixed Double Sculls is set to make its Paralympic debut in Paris, and it has accordingly attracted a big entry for the World Rowing Championships. Last year France’s Elur Alberdi and Laurent Cadot stamped their mark; this season Cadot claimed gold at the European Rowing Championships, rowing with Guylaine Marchand. Alberdi is back in the boat for Belgrade. Also looking strong this season are World Rowing Cup II winners Nikki Ayers and Jed Altschwager of Australia; British duo Annie Caddick and Sam Murray; and Ukraine’s Stanislav Samoliuk and Dariia Kotyk, bronze medallists last year. Meanwhile 2022 silver medallist Diana Barcelos of Brazil has teamed up with new partner Jairo Frohlich for Belgrade.

Francesca Allen (b), Giedre Rakauskaite, Morgan Fice-Noyes, Edward Fuller (s), Erin Kennedy (c), PR3 Mixed Coxed Four , Great Britain, 2023 World Rowing Cup II, Varese, Italy / Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com

 PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (PR3 Mix4+)

Entries: 11
Reigning World Champions: Francesca Allen, Giedre Rakauskaite, Edward Fuller, Oliver Stanhope, Morgan Baynham-Williams

It doesn’t seem to matter exactly who is sitting in the British PR3 Mixed Coxed Four. Despite line-up changes year-on-year, the crew has been dominant season after season. For this season coxswain Erin Kennedy returned following successful treatment for breast cancer, joined by Morgan Fice-Noyes in place of Oliver Stanhope. They won the European Championships and added World Rowing Cup II gold and a new World Best Time to consolidate their place as perennial favourites. France and Germany are the best of the chasing pack, although many of the field have yet to race this season.

PR2 Women’s Single Sculls (PR2 W1x)

Entries: 2
Reigning World Champion: Katie O’Brien

Two athletes line up in the PR2 Women’s Single Sculls this year including 2022 bronze medallist Anna Aisanova of Ukraine. This year, her competition is Turkiye’s Nursen Sen, who makes her international debut in Belgrade.

PR2 Men’s Single Sculls (PR2 M1x)

Entries: 6
Reigning World Champion: Cornelis de Koning (NED)

Both defending champion Corne de Koning of the Netherlands and 2022 silver medallist Gian Filippo Mirabile (ITA) are doubling up in the PR2 Men’s Single Sculls and the PR2 Mixed Double Sculls. That did not stop them being strong in both events last year, and they are the most experienced of the field in this boat class. The battle for the rest of the medals comes from a mixture of youth – 21-year-old Spaniard Benat Odriozola and 19-year-old Kazakh Bakbergen Balabek – and older athletes, 45-year-old Argentinian Julian Garcia, and 34-year-old Latvian Krists Mickevics who was sixth last year.

PR3 Men’s Pair (PR3 M2-)

Entries: 2
Reigning World Champions: Oliver Stanhope, Edward Fuller (GBR)

Ukraine’s Andrii Syvykh is the only returnee from last year’s PR3 Men’s Pair Final, where he won bronze. This season Syvykh partners with Ivan Kupriichuk to go head-to-head with Daniel Mueller and Moritz Hagen of Germany, with the majority of nations choosing to prioritise the two PR3 Paralympic events instead.


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