Fergus Mainland 

All eyes on Prague for the World Rowing Indoor Championships 2024

As the winter months draw to a close, the 2024 World Rowing Indoor Championships, presented by Concept 2, are set to be held in Prague this weekend. This year’s championships are drawing a bumper entry with over 2000 participants from more than 50 nations registered to compete in the 2000m, 500m, and team competitions, both in-person and virtually.

The 2024 championships will see competitors who ply their trade on the water go head-to-head with indoor specialists as well as those doing the bulk of their training following CrossFit programmes.

As the host nation, Czechia has naturally drawn the largest entry with over 550 participants entering. Great Britain is providing the second largest entry with nearly 250 people taking place either virtually in their homes or gyms or making the trip over to the O2 Universal Arena in Prague.

One of the most exciting names on the men’s side is Ward Lemmelijn from Belgium. Lemmelijn, who secured second place in the open men’s category at the 2023 Championships, aims to reclaim the title he last held in 2022. Known for his exceptional performance on the erg, he has diversified his training regime with participation in HYROX events.

Speaking of CrossFit events, enter Daniel Viger from Canada. Transitioning from CrossFit to indoor rowing, Viger's athletic background shows the growing appeal of indoor rowing to athletes from a wide range of sports. Both Viger and Lemmelijn will be competing in the 23-29 category for 2000m with the latter hoping to crack the 5:40 barrier, just like he did last year.

Viger and Lemmelijn will be pushed hard by Jakub Podrazil. As the 2023 bronze medallist and holder of the inaugural World Rowing Indoor Champion title in 2018, Podrazil seeks to capitalise on the Czech home advantage. Despite being bested by Lemmelijn last year, his extensive racing experience positions him as a formidable contender.

In the men’s event Chris Scott will be flying the flag for Great Britain over the 500m distance. The former Commonwealth discus thrower showed what he is capable of at the British Rowing Indoor Championships (BRIC) where he came away with a bronze medal.

On the women’s side, Kathryn Mole will be looking to reproduce the BRIC gold medal that she won back in December. While she posted a 6:52.2 at BRIC, she went over 2.5s quicker earlier on in the season and will be looking to replicate that speed when she heads to Prague.

One of Mole’s strongest competitors hails from Denmark. Sara Maria Johansen is stepping up to a higher age category and will look to add another medal to her collection, following her victory in last year’s 21-22 category. Johansen is also looking to demonstrate her versatility across different race distances as she goes for gold in the 500m event as well as the 2000m.

Also competing in the 23-39 event is Kathleen Noble from Uganda. Noble makes the switch from lightweight to openweight, having placed fifth in last year’s event. Noble has also successfully qualified for Paris 2024, having become the first Ugandan athlete to row at the Olympic Games back in Tokyo.

The World Championships could be a day Michala Pospisilova never forgets. If she wins the 23-39 200m category then it will be a birthday to remember. She is one of 10 Czech athletes participating in a home World Championships.

In the para categories, keep your eyes on the PR2 events. The Polish duo Michal Gadowski and Jolanta Majka from Poland are renowned for their success on the water. will be travelling to Prague to defend their respective titles.

The unique Versa Challenge is now in its second year of operation. It is made up of a series of events, some of which will only be revealed at the World Championships themselves. It offers an opportunity for athletes to test all their indoor rowing skills and experiences in unfamiliar race formats. Three British athletes will be taking part with Cam Buchan racing in the Men’s event while Jess Eddie and Charlotte Dixon race in the Women’s Versa Challenge.

Finally, the relays are always one of the highlights of any indoor rowing championships. Here, teams have the option of racing virtually or in the arena and the British Army’s two entries will provide fierce competition for anyone racing the 2000m mixed relay. This is because they triumphed in the Men’s 4000m relay at BRIC and came away with bronze medals in both the Women’s and Mixed event.

The World Rowing Indoor Championships take place in Prague from 23 – 24 February 2024.

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