World Rowing Cup I: ‘It’s all about building up to the World Championships’
Jonny Walton and Karen Bennett explain the role that World Rowing Cup I plays in a long and busy season for the GB Rowing Team
After months of training, assessments and trials, now is the time for the Great Britain rowing squad to put their practice into action with the first World Cup regatta of the season.
Forty-two athletes have travelled to Belgrade for the season opener, where many of the world’s top rowing nations come together for the first time in the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad.
While the main goal for the athletes and coaches this season – the World Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton – lies five months away, everyone selected to race in Belgrade is keen to lay down an early marker for their rivals.
“I’m really looking forward to the first race. It’s a good time to lay down a marker, especially in this new boat,” said Jonny Walton, who teams up with Rio 2016 partner John Collins in a new look men’s quadruple scull. “There’s a familiar face with John in the stroke seat, but I’m looking forward to having two others [Jack Beaumont and Tom Barras] behind us and going into a different boat class.
“It’s a bit of a steep learning curve, especially with the first race being so close to the final Trials, but it’s all good preparation for what we want to do this summer. The racing is the most exciting part of the year, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Several of the bigger rowing nations are absent from Belgrade, meaning that some boat classes have relatively few entries.
Olympic silver medallist Karen Bennett and her partner in the women’s pair, Holly Norton, will only face two other boats in Belgrade – both from the Netherlands. It’s the same in the women’s quad sculls, with just two other boats entered, although the young British quartet will face stiff competition from the Netherlands and Poland – silver and bronze medallists from Rio respectively.
“You take the racing as it comes and it’s all about experience,” Bennett said. “You can practice things you’ve not done before, practice what you’ve done in training and getting it ready for [later races]. It’s all about building up to the World Championships in September. It’s quite far away, but it’s good to get the practice in now.
“Any racing is good racing. There’s only one other country, but that doesn’t matter – we can still practise our race plan, it’s good preparation for when we race at the European Championships or the second World Cup.”