Plovdiv 2018: Horrie and Skarstein win in record style

Australian and Norwegian rowers defend Worlds golds in Bulgaria

A man in a wheelchair celebrating in the middle of two men in wheelchair chairs clapping Australia's Erik Horrie celebrates the men's single sculls world title in Plovdiv © • Rowing Australia

Australia’s Erik Horrie and Norway’s Birgit Skarstein saved their best for last on the final day (16 September) of the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The Para rowers captured the PR1 men’s and women’s single sculls (PR1 M1x and PR W1x), respectively, on Sunday, while also resetting the World Best Times in both.

Sprint finish, Aussie gold

Horrie and Ukraine’s reigning Paralympic champion Roman Polianski pushed each other in the last metres, with Horrie edging his rival to win his fifth consecutive world title.

In the process, the Australian also broke his own World’s Best Time (WBT) in 9:16.90, eight seconds faster than his previous mark.

“This one hurts a lot more than the other four,” said the two-time Paralympic silver medallist. “It’s unbelievable, to get out there and win your fifth world title, it’s hard enough just winning one. This win I think is a tribute to the team I have behind me at this event.”

“Painful and very fast,” Horrie added. “Roman is a very good rower, we always knew it would be a sprint finish. I take my hat off to him.”

Russia’s Alexey Chuvashev* took home the bronze.

WBT shattered

Skarstein was in excellent shape entering Plovdiv, and the reigning world champion showed that by clocking an impressive time en route to winning the PR1 W1x title.

The Norwegian’s mark of 10:13.63 shattered her previous time by 11 seconds.

“That was an amazing race,” Skarstein said. “I went hard from the start and managed to keep building the speed until the end. There were some good pushes and the race went really well.”

Israel’s Moran Samuel took silver to complete an inspiring comeback to the sport since giving birth to her daughter in April. The USA’s Hallie Smith came in third.

“I’m so happy to be racing here and with this result, especially as I gave birth four months ago, so I didn’t know how I would perform physically or mentally,” Samuel said.

At the start it was Skarstein who moved the quickest and placed her mark on the race with just 500m rowed. With a seven-second lead and just a quarter of the race gone, Samuel would have needed a special surge to catch the Norwegian.

Skarstein, who competed at this year’s Paralympic Winter Games in cross-country skiing, continued to push away and absolutely dominated to the finish.

Complete results from the 2018 World Rowing Championships are available on World Rowing’s website.

*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 https://www.paralympic.org/russian-paralympic-committee-suspension for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.