Row to Tokyo: Strong start at Para qualifiers
Canada’s crews took their first strokes towards claiming remaining Tokyo Paralympic quota spots on Thursday at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Gavirate, Italy.
The PR3 mixed coxed four of Bayleigh Hooper (Peterborough Rowing Club), Andrew Todd (North Star Rowing Club), Victoria Nolan (Victoria City Rowing Club), Kyle Fredrickson (University of Victoria Rowing Club), and coxswain Laura Court (St. Catharines Rowing Club) finished first in their heat to progress straight to Saturday’s A Final. Their time of 7:09:41 was the fastest of the two PR3 Mix4+ heats.
“It was definitely exciting to be back racing,” said Nolan. “We were so looking forward to this last year and it’s been tough waiting this long, but we finally got out there. Nerves were high, but we got the first one under our belt, so we’re feeling pretty good.”
“COVID has definitely presented some barriers, but I think we’ve been able to adapt really well to all the changes and the different protocols, and I think we’ve just been able to go with the flow and keep our focus on racing.”
Jessye Brockway (Gorge Narrows Rowing Club) and Jeremy Hall (Edmonton Rowing Club) had a strong showing in their PR2 mixed double heat, finishing in second place behind Italy. They will race in the PR2 Mix2x repechage on Friday June 4 at 10:12 am CET, with the top four crews from that race moving on to join Italy and Australia in Saturday’s A Final.
“It feels crazy, it feels good, and very exciting to be in it again,” Brockway said of lining up at her second international regatta. “I think [the difference this time is] just how much time we’ve built together and how much stronger we are. It’s really been a big impact.”
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Photo: Merijn Soeters