Italy leads the way with 11 medals

Shares Gold Medal Lead with Great Britain • By Nick Gandy

Italy and Great Britain flexed their rowing muscle at the 2019 Under 23 World Rowing Championships as Italy won five gold medals in Saturday’s ‘A’ Final races and Great Britain won four gold medals in Sunday’s championship races.

After Great Britain won one of the two “flagship events” of the championships, the men’s eight gold medal it won put the team in a tie with Italy, each winning six gold medals. Great Britain crossed the finish line less than two seconds ahead of the U.S. and Netherlands teams.

Italy led all countries winning 11 medals total, six gold, a silver and four bronze to lead all countries. Germany finished with nine total medals, two gold, five silvers and two bronze. Great Britain tallied eight medals overall, winning six gold, and two silver medals. 

It was the second “flagship event race” of the day that provided the most drama in the final race of the day. In winning the Netherlands’ lone gold medal, the women’s eight team crossed the finish line just under 5 seconds over the team from Great Britain. 

In a moment of youthful exuberance, a dozen or so members of the Netherlands team sprinted from the beach into the water and swam out to congratulate their teammates.

In what is Dutch tradition after a team from The Netherlands wins the final race of a regatta, members of the team jump in the lake and swim to congratulate the team.
Photo by Nick Gandy

Joining medal-winning teams in the water after the final event of the day is a tradition in the Netherlands, according to the team’s coxswain, Eline Berger.

“The tradition started at The Varsity, a youth championship race in the Netherlands,” said Berger, of the oldest and most prestigious student rowing regatta in the Netherlands, held in the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.  “It just happened here today also.”

Following a few minutes of hugs and fist pumps with the gold medal winning team, Nathan Benderson Park safety boats collected the celebrants and brought them back to shore while the team rowed to the medal platform.

The U.S. team finished with seven total medals. Samuel Melvin won the lone gold medal, in the lightweight men’s single sculls with a time of 7:06.670.  He survived a final push by Obbe Durk Tibben, of the Netherlands, who crossed the finish line at 7:06.830.  The U.S. rowers also won three silver medals and three bronzes.

Once the last medals were presented to the Netherlands women’s eight team, FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland declared the 2019 World Rowing Under 23 Championships closed at 12:50 p.m. in Sarasota-Bradenton. He passed the FISA flag from Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA) President/CEO Stephen V. Rodriguez to officials from the host of the 2020 World Rowing Senior, Under 23 and Junior Championships, in Bled, Slovenia.

“This event is a great marketing value for our community,” said Rodriguez of the event that brought athletes, coaches and supporters from more than 50 countries to Sarasota-Bradenton. “We have media and the rowing community from around the world here. Everyone is looking at our facility and at Sarasota County.”

Thousands celebrate at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships on Sunday, July 28, 2019. Photo by Douglas E. Jessmer

Future events to be held at Nathan Benderson Park include the 2020 and 2021 USRowing Youth National Championships and the 2021 and 2022 NCAA Rowing National Championships.

Beginning with the 2019 World Rowing Under 23 Championships Opening Ceremony on Tuesday night, the colors of the world were on display at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota-Bradenton.  A total of 142 races were contested over five days of rowing in 22 classes. 

While a handful of the rowers at the Under 23 Rowing Championships will be in action at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the majority of rowers competing this weekend in Sarasota-Bradenton, are forming the foundation of teams that will be in Paris for the 2024 Olympic Games.

For more information about the 2019 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, including news, full results and photos, please visit worldunder23.com or worldrowing.com.