OPINION: The rowing Under-23 World Champs start today and Southland's Hayden Cohen and Genevieve Behrent will be amongst the action. They also are favoured for medals, writes Toby Pascoe in this week's rowing column.
Genevieve competed at the Under-23s last year in the women's eight and returns again this year.
The crew last year had an amazing sprint in the final 500 metres to take the silver medal, and I reckon they can go the extra step this year.
Gen, from Waihopai Rowing Club, started her rowing career only at the age of 19 when brother Ollie and coach John O'Connor convinced her to give it a go.
Her first row in the single, where she fell out, was quickly forgotten and she has had a fast climb to national teams and international success.
The experience of racing at the 2010 World Championships on home water at Karapiro, in the women's four, will help her at these champs and in future years.
Hayden, bred from the Invercargill Rowing Club, has been in a national team for the past four years – starting at the Australian youth olympics in 2008 and then in the New Zealand Junior teams in 2009, 2010 – and this year he takes the bow seat in the Under-23 quad.
Bronze medals at the juniors would have to be the highlight but Hayden also placed second in the Under-21 single at this year's national champs.
While I was at Karapiro training for the Under-21 team, the quad was near the top of the time sheets every day.
The champs are held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from today through to July 24.
A record 63 nations will compete, while athletes from all continents are represented; from Oceania, Asia, Africa, the Americas and, of course, Europe. The largest teams will be Germany (21 crews, 69 athletes), the US (21 crews, 67 athletes) and Italy (16 crews, 54 athletes).
New Zealand sends 26 athletes, all medal contenders. It is sure to be a great week of racing.
You can watch the live results from the World Rowing website or keep up to date with the Southland Rowing Facebook page for results from Hayden and Gen.
- The Southland Times