New World Champions were Crowned in Plovdiv

Sanita Puspure of Ireland dethroned the reigning world champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland in the single sculls. This was Ireland’s first gold medal in the women’s single sculls at a world championships event. Photo: FISA.

17 September 2018

In a press release (slightly edited by HTBS), FISA reports about the 2018 World Championships, which wrapped up in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, yesterday. New world champions were crowned from across the continents with 28 countries overall taking the gold, silver and bronze medals.

In a week of late summer warm weather and fast rowing conditions, the United States won the most number of medals with a total of 10, three of them gold, at the 2018 World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This is the best medal count for the U.S. in 16 years.

Part of the U.S. medal haul was a gold medal in the women’s eights. After a 10-year world championship winning streak, the U.S. lost the title in 2017. These world championships saw the U.S. women return to the top spot in the eights. This came after a tight race where Canada took silver and Australia bronze. The U.S. showed women’s sweep rowing dominance by also winning the women’s fours. The women’s fours is a new Olympic boat class and already the competition is fierce as countries build their crews ready for its debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

At the top of the overall ranking was Italy with three gold medals. This included gold in the men’s quadruple sculls, which is the first world championship title in the quad for Italy since 1998. The race saw last year’s world champions, Lithuania, relegated out of medal contention with Australia and Ukraine taking silver and bronze, respectively.

Ireland had its most successful world championships ever when the country picked up two gold medals and their first golds in Olympic boat classes. This happened first in the lightweight men’s double sculls when Gary and Paul O’Donovan, the now famous brothers from Skibbereen, won the race. Then, the second gold came in the women’s single sculls with Sanita Puspure beating the reigning world champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland to the line. Gmelin took silver, and bronze went to Magdalena Lobnig of Austria.

New world champion Kjetil Borch is lifted up by silver medallist Ondřej Synek (left) and bronze medallist Mindaugas Griskonis (right). Photo: FISA.

In the highly anticipated men’s single sculls the reigning European champion Kjetil Borch of Norway rowed a fantastic race leading from start to finish to take his first ever world championship title in the single. Borch pushed the 2017 world champion Ondřej Synek of the Czech Republic into second place with Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis sprinting through to a bronze in the close of the race. Harry Leask of Great Britain came in fourth, Robbie Manson of New Zealand fifth, ahead of Oliver Zeidler of Germany.

In the para-rowing boat classes new World Best Times were set with the most impressive being in the para PR1 men’s and women’s single sculls. In successfully defending his world championship title, Erik Horrie of Australia set a new World Best Time. The defending World Champion in the women’s single, Birgit Skarstein of Norway did the same and not only set a World Best Time, but also completely dominated the women’s final. Skarstein was almost 49 seconds ahead of silver medallist Moran Samuel of Israel.

At the start of the week Jason Osborne of Germany set a World Best Time in the lightweight men’s single sculls during the heats. He went on to win the final of the lightweight single ahead of Michael Schmid of Switzerland.

The German men’s eight closed the championships by successfully defending their world championship title. In a tightly fought final, the Germans held off challenges from the United States, Great Britain and Australia to win the gold. Australia finished just ahead of Great Britain to claim the silver.

For results, full race reports, photos, live blog and quick quotes go to

One comment

  1. Some good results for Australia, and a superb regatta for Ireland. It will also be interesting in the next two years to see what the German Oliver Zeidler can make of his sculling career. A very exciting time all around for the rowing world.

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