Perago Trust grant recipient Seth Hope provides a review of 2019 Junior World Rowing Championships
In April I was selected to trial for the NZ U19 rowing team where I trialed as a sculler. I was successful and was selected into the junior men’s quad (JM4X). We then had a few weeks off where we were to complete our own training before the squad returned to lake Karapiro to begin our campaign.
It started with a two training block where we progressed by gelling as a crew, technically and in our fitness and strength. It was a hard but enjoyable 8 weeks of training. The Junior world championships were to be held in Tokyo Japan this year as the trial event for the 2020 Olympics which was a cool opportunity to be able to see and compete on a brand new course that in a years time would host the best rowers in the world.
We flew out on the 26th of July and arrived in Osaka Japan where we trained for a week to acclimatize to the heat and humidity which was a huge shock to the system. We trained on lake Otsu which was a huge lake bigger than our own lake Taupo and it was a very cool place to train. As the week went on we slowly got better and back to previous speeds which we were doing back on lake Karapiro. The heat meant that we couldn’t perform to the same ability as it was so taxing on the body, however, the longer we trained the better we became.
We then travelled to Tokyo by bullet train and settled in before our first race on the 7th of August. It was surprisingly cooler in Tokyo with a constant wind which meant conditions on the brand new course were tricky. The course managed to stop the big winds from chopping the water to a level which would be un-rowable which was thankful as the wind speeds were proven by the row of massive wind turbines which lined the course.
The first day of racing was an exciting one. It was most our my crews first international race so we didn’t know what to expect so nerves ran high. The heat went well thankfully we were slow out of the blocks however made up for it over taking crews in the first 500m putting us in 2nd before pushing through Romania at the 1000m and putting a couple of lengths on them making a comfortable lead which we held to the finish. Because of our win we had the next two days off as we missed the repecharge and got to rest our legs.
The next race was the semi and it was lined up to be a very tough race. We had Germany, Czech Republic and Great Britain who are all historically medal winning countries in the Mens quad and crews which held previous junior World medallists within their boats. The race was another slow start for us as expected however we held a good consistent speed and by the 1km mark we were in second a boat length down from Germany and we held this the rest of the way despite tough pushes from both Czech and GB in the last 500m with both finishing less than a second behind us. This put us through to the A final which looked incredibly tough with all 6 boats within a second of one another from their semis times.
The next day was our finals race. We all felt good and confident and were glad to finally see the end to our long campaign. Once the race started we were dead out the back. We had our slowest start yet and this put us in tricky situation. By 500m we were still at the back tossing for 5th and 6th but slowly came up and by the 1000m we were in 4th place in contact with the medals. This was the time we had to move and had planned to however unfortunately no matter how much we wanted it to the boat didn’t go.
We fell back in the 3rd 500m to 5th and started getting wash from lanes either side of us as they were the two leading crews now lengths ahead and once that happened unfortunately it was all over for us. We lost our steering and were overtaken in the last 250m by Chile leaving us in 6th place.
It was a heartbreaking race with such high hopes and build ups through the heat and semis however on the international stage the A final is a whole another level. It was a very good learning experience for me and an incredibly enjoyable one. It has made me want to come back from that failure and next year to try and jump up to the U23 level with a year of training harder than ever. All in all my racing experience that I took away from Japan will be incredibly valuable in years to come.
Thank you very much Perago Trust for supporting me through this campaign, I could not have done it without you!