A year of break-out performances and the rise of new names has helped shape the winners of the 2017 World Rowing Awards, presented by the World Rowing Federation, FISA.
The return to the top of the mighty German men’s eight earns them World Rowing Male Crew of the Year. The powerful single sculler, Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland is the World Rowing Female Crew of the Year. The darling of Norwegian rowing, Birgit Skarstein is the World Rowing Para Crew of the Year winner. Coach of the World Champion French lightweight men’s double sculls, Alexis Besancon is the World Rowing Coach of the Year. The World Rowing Distinguished Service to Rowing goes to Australia’s John Boultbee.
2017 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year: Jeannine Gmelin, women’s single sculls (SUI)
Jeannine Gmelin’s season has been nothing short of outstanding. She went to the World Rowing Championships unbeaten in the single and topped off the season with World Championship gold. This success came after a slow build that began in 2014 when she finished 15th in the single, then coming back from injury to dominate this year. Gmelin is now targeting an Olympic medal in 2020.
2017 World Rowing Male Crew of the Year: Johannes Weissenfeld, Felix Wimberger, Maximilian Planer, Torben Johannesen, Jakob Schneider, Malte Jakschik, Richard Schmidt, Hannes Ocik, Martin Sauer (coxswain), men’s eight (GER)
The German men’s eight is back on top. The eight dominated the men’s field leading up to the London Olympics. They then finished with silver at Rio 2016. But for 2017 the crew did a stunning turn around. They opened the season by winning at the European Championships and followed this up by setting a new World Best Time at their next regatta – World Rowing Cup II. The crew won at World Rowing Cup III and completed the season by romping home to World Champion victory at the Sarasota-Bradenton World Rowing Championships.
2017 World Rowing Para Crew of the Year: Birgit Skarstein, para PR1 women’s single sculls (NOR)
This year saw big changes in para-rowing. The 1000m racing distance was changed to 2000m as the para boat classes become more integrated with the overall rowing programme. Birgit Skarstein embraced the new race distance and not only became the 2017 World Champion in the single, but also set the standard earlier in the season by recording the new World Best Time. The unstoppable Skarstein will not be able to receive her award in person today as she is training for the 2018 Winter Paralympics in skiing.
2017 World Rowing Coach of the Year: Alexis Besancon (FRA)
A finalist for Coach of the Year in 2015, Alexis Besancon is the 2017 World Rowing Coach of the Year. Besancon has headed French lightweight rowing since 2008 and in his role as coach of the French lightweight men’s double, he has presided over a crew that has remained unbeaten since 2015. As well as World Championship gold for the double, Besancon’s lightweight men’s quadruple sculls also took gold at this year’s World Rowing Championships.
2017 Distinguished Service to International Rowing: John Boultbee (AUS)
Starting out as a coxswain and then coach, John Boultbee’s, affiliation with rowing is long and diverse. A lawyer by trade, Boultbee, 67, left his barrister job to be secretary general of the World Rowing Federation, FISA, based at that time in Oberhofen, Switzerland. He held the role from 1989 to 1995. Since then Boultbee has been a FISA Council and Executive Committee member until 2014. In 1990 Boultbee was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to rowing as an administrator. He has been on Rowing Australia’s executive board and is a Steward of Great Britain’s Henley Royal Regatta.
The award winners were honoured yesterday, 8 December 2017 at a gala dinner during the 2017 World Rowing Coaches Conference in London, Great Britain.
Report courtesy of World Rowing