Records Fall at the World Indoor Championships

The first masters, senior and under 23 world championships events took to the floor Sunday morning. Three new world records were set, including an incredible race from Christine Cavallo to unexpectedly break the record in the women’s lightweight category.

First up were the lightweight men, both under 23 and senior categories. With athletes from all corners of the earth, including Austria, New Zealand, Poland, China and Mexico, this race was bound to be good. On the right side of the gym, Artur Mikolajczewski (POL), Matthias Taborsky (AUT) and Alistair Bond (NZL) were lined up and going for gold.  Mikolajczewski got off to the best start and despite their best efforts Taborsky and Bond could not catch him. Mikolajczewski finished in a time of 6:07.4.

“The first 1000m were very good, but the second thousand were much worse. I thought I could get a better time, so I’m not quite satisfied. But of course, I won, so I have to be happy with that. It was a great feeling to be here at the world champs. The United States is a great country and it’s perfect organisation. Next, I go to national training camp and prepare for the national championships, World Cups and European Championships.” – Artur Mikolajczewski, Poland, gold


Artur Mikolajczewski, Poland, gold, Matthias Taborsky, Austria, silver, Alistair Bond, New Zealand, bronze, men’s lightweight, 2018 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Alexandria, Virginia, USA • ©Detlev Seyb/


On the other side of the gym, the under-23s were in their own battle. The top three went stroke for stroke. It was only in the last 50 metres that Mexico’s Alexis Lopez managed to win gold in a time of 6:18.2. Reid Noch (USA) finished in 6:18.5 and Zhenyu Yang (CHN) in 6:18.9. What a race.

“It was really an amazing race. I knew that I had the chance to be on the podium and could win, but every year there are some competitors that grow a lot, so I knew it was going to be tough. Every one of them wants to win, but Mexico always comes with heart and goes for everything. This was my best race, it was a crazy race. I was in the first 10 in the beginning and after 1000m, in second and in last 50m in first. It was just incredible. I am very proud to be here and race among the best of the world. To be in this event, it opens doors for other events.” – Alexis Lopez, Mexico, gold


Alexis Lopez, Mexico, gold, Reid Noch, USA, silver, Zhenyu Yang, China, bronze, men’s under 23 lightweight, 2018 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Alexandria, Virginia, USA • ©Detlev Seyb/


The lightweight women, both under 23 and senior categories were up next. All eyes were on Christine Cavallo (USA) who was discretely attempting to set a world record. On the other side of the gym, eyes were on the under-23 world champion from the women’s pair, Melita Abraham.

Neither disappointed. Abraham went into a great final sprint to win gold in a time of 7:10.5. And Cavallo, coming into the last 500m, she was just on-pace to break the world record time. And she did, setting a new world record of 6:54.1, taking just .6 seconds off the previous record.

“It was very tough and the last 500m I suffered a lot. I tried to do my usual time and then look for first place. My plan was to look for 1:46 the whole time, but the last 500m, I couldn’t hold it. This year, I want to repeat my title at the under-23 championships and to be a finalist at the world championships. It’s very different to be competing here on the indoor. I get as nervous on the erg as a world championships on the water. But they are good nerves. If I’m not nervous, it’s not important enough.” – Melita Abraham, Chile, gold


Melita Abraham, Chile, gold, Sophia Luwis, USA, silver, Dandan Pan, China, bronze, women’s under 23 lightweight, 2018 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Alexandria, Virginia, USA • ©Detlev Seyb/


“This has always been my strong suit, getting on the C2 [concept 2 rowing machine]. But because I’ve been good at it, it’s kind of hurt my technical approach to training. Right now my training is getting longer on the Rp3 and more time in the single and this is just the product of that training. So [the erg] shifted from my end-all be-all goal to a side product of something bigger that I’m training for.” – Christine Cavallo, USA, gold  


Christine Cavallo, USA, gold, Emily Schmieg, USA, silver, Kathryn Schiro, USA, bronze, women’s lightweight, 2018 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Alexandria, Virginia, USA • ©Detlev Seyb/


In the men’s under-23 openweight category it was China’s Wancheng Liu with the fastest start. But he was not able to hold the pace as Andrew Knoll got into his rhythm. Knoll’s goal was to negative split the entire piece and his plan worked. Coming into the last 500m, Knoll clinched the gold ahead of Marton Szabo from Hungary and Songhu Zhan from China. Liu would have to settle for fourth.

“I had a plan coming into it. I had done a 2k this past Wednesday. So I tried to start off slow and then negative split it. It was a lot of pressure. I haven’t done an indoor race like this really ever, at all. I did a couple back in high school, but nothing this big. It was pretty nerve wracking.” – Andrew Knoll, USA, gold


Andrew Knoll, USA, gold, Marton Szabo, Hungary, silver, Songhu Zhang, China, bronze, men’s under 23 openweight, 2018 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Alexandria, Virginia, USA • ©Detlev Seyb/


In the penultimate race of the day, the men’s openweight seniors took to the ergs. The Czech Republic’s Jakub Podrazil took the early lead and held onto it. Podrazil has had on-water success and was looking to prove his strength here on the indoor rowing machine. He finished in a time of 5:44.8, more than ten seconds ahead of second-place Joel Naukkarinen of Finland and in third, Thomas Phifer from the USA.

“I expected a little better, 1-2 seconds faster, but it was still my personal best. In the next year, I have inspiration to go faster. Now, I end my season of indoor rowing, we start on the water next week. But it was good here, I really enjoyed it. I was here a half year ago in Sarasota for the world championships and I enjoy it here as well. I have to go visit some statues, the White House and tomorrow fly home.” – Jakub Podrazil, Czech Republic, gold


Jakub Podrazil, Czech Republic, gold, Joel Naukkarinen, Finland, silver, Thomas Phifer, USA, bronze, men’s openweight, 2018 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Alexandria, Virginia, USA • ©Detlev Seyb/


The women’s openweight in both senior and under 23 categories were the last of the World Championship races. All eyes were on the world record holder Olena Buryak of Ukraine. Buryak had a good start and was immediately ahead of the rest of the field. She was rowing her own race and hauling through the last 200m, she finished in a time of 6:26.1, setting a new world record for the 30-39 age category.

“I am really proud and happy to be a part of every competition. And I am very happy when I can show what I can do. Today I think it was my time, not great, but not so bad. Now I will go to New York for some holidays and then back home for training camp.” – Olena Buryak, Ukraine, gold 



Olena Buryak, Ukraine, gold, Luisa Neerschulte, Germany, silver, Rui Ju, China, bronze, women’s openweight, 2018 World Rowing Indoor Championships, Alexandria, Virginia, USA • ©Detlev Seyb/


This article first appeared on Thank you to World Rowing, an Erg Sprints | WRIC event sponsor.