Rowing: Stars of tomorrow make a splash in Nanjing
From the heats right through to finals day, the young champions of the rowing events at Nanjing 2014 put on a superb show at Xuanwu Lake, serving notice of their rich potential at international level.
There were four rowing gold medals at stake in the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Romania claimed both of the pairs titles, while Germany’s Tim Ole Naske, the world 2,000m junior single sculls champion, showed that he is every bit as formidable over shorter distances, winning gold in the men’s 1,000m. In the women’s singles Krystsina Staraselets (BLR) announced her arrival on the international stage, sparking comparisons with compatriot Ekaterina Karsten.
Modest Staraselets stays grounded
Though reluctant to start comparing herself to Belarusian rowing icon Karsten after taking gold in the women’s single sculls, Staraselets was very much the talk of the Xuanwu Lake Rowing-Canoeing venue. The youngster’s impressive performances left many observers wondering if she could emulate her great compatriot, a double Olympic single sculls champion and six-time world champion, who won her first Olympic title at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, the year Staraselets was born.
Playing down such comparisons, the 18-year-old gold medallist spoke of her utmost respect for her idol. “She has been a hero of mine all my life,” she said. “She was winning championships before I was born but I don’t want to compare myself to her so early in my career. Obviously she is an inspiration and someone we all look up to, but I am young and I have a long way to go.”
In the final Staraselets chased down early leader Athina Maria Angelopoulou (GRE) to win by 0.26 seconds, with Camille Juillet (FRE) finishing 2.47 seconds behind the Belarusian in third. Admitting to problems in adapting to the 1000m race distance, the French rower said: “I’ve rowed so much lately over the 2,000m [most recently at the Junior World Championships in early August] that it has been difficult all week to adjust.”
Naske makes his mark
There were no such problems for world 2,000m junior champion Naske in the men’s single sculls. Relishing the challenge of the YOG short course format, the German said: “It’s been a week of just going as fast as I can and going for a big finish. Coming back in distance has been something I’ve had to work on but I had enough rows this week to get my rhythm, and it all came together today.”
Pairs double for Romania
After sitting a lowly fifth at the halfway point, Romanian duo Cristina Georgiana Popescu and Denisa Tilvescu surged to gold in the women’s pairs final.
“We had a good race and we knew from the start we’d have to go very fast to win,” said Popescu afterwards. “We felt good, our boat was going fast and it’s good that we are able to win and share gold with the men.”
Compatriots Gheorghe Robert Dedu and Ciprian Tudosa took the honours in the men’s pairs after trailing eventual silver medallists Miroslav Jech and Lukas Helesic (CZE) at the 500m mark, with Gokhan Guven and Eren Can Aslan of Turkey completing the podium.
“It’s a continuation of the good work Romanian crews are doing at junior level," Dedu said. “We are performing well in competitions all over the world and it should surprise no one that we are so consistent in so many events.”