Lake Bled, venue of the 2011
World Rowing Championships.
The World Rowing Championships held in the year before the Olympic Games is an important
event. It is the main qualification regatta for the 2012 London Olympic Games. This means
athletes are not simply racing to become World Champions, they are also racing for arguably
the higher stakes of earning a spot for their country in one of the 14 Olympic rowing events.
World Rowing Championships since 2006 and
picked up the 2008 Olympic gold.
Lake Bled in Slovenia is the idyllic location for this
year’s World Rowing Championships. Treasured and
enjoyed by locals and visitors for generations, Lake
Bled is described by Slovenia’s most famous poet
France Preseren: “(It) holds no nicer place than this
second Eden, full of charm and grace.”
Cop calls Lake Bled his “office”. “I do most of my
training here and I believe we are very fortunate to
have a natural course which is as close to perfect
as it gets. I love to train on that lake because of the
great rowing conditions as well as the beautiful
The lake also lends itself to being a spectacular 2000m
rowing course complete with Bled Island just near
the finish line and a Romanesque castle on the hill
above the start line.
The World Rowing Championships consistently
attracts over 50 nations. In 2010 Great Britain topped
the medals table with Germany and New Zealand
making up the top three.
The men’s and women’s single are less certain.
Everything changed for favourite Ekaterina
Karsten-Khodotovitch of Belarus when the
feisty Swede Frida Svensson grabbed a
rare opportunity at the 2010 World Rowing
Championships and stayed ahead to become
the World Champion. Svensson proved that
the great Karsten was beatable. Then four-time consecutive World Champion Mahe
Drysdale of New Zealand was forced out of first by
the perfectly prepared Ondrej Synek of the Czech
Republic in the men’s single.
Bled is about 40 minutes from Slovenia’s capital
city, Ljubljana, and is situated in the north-west
corner of what was formerly Yugoslavia. The country
has a population of just over 2 million people and
rowing is their most successful Olympic sport since
independence in 1991, largely due to Slovenia’s most
medalled athlete, Iztok Cop.
For this year’s competition the German men’s eight
is looking promising in this Blue Riband event. The
Germans come into the 2011 season as two-time
World Champions and there is every indication
that this crew is on a winning roll. Watch out also
for the United States women’s eight who are on a
five-year dominating streak. They have won every
Both the men’s and women’s single are now open to
speculation and great anticipation.