By Yuri Kovalev
In Belgrade, Serbia, our canoe and kayak rowers stood out from the crowd, earning more medals than any other squad at the continental championship — setting a national record. The Belarusian rowers yielded only to Hungary in their number of gold medals: 5 against 6. In Olympic programmes, Vladimir Shantarovich’s trainees claimed one gold and three silver medals.
Olympic champions Vadim Makhnev and Roman Petrushenko took two medals in the kayak pair: gold in the 500m and silver in the 200m. Oleg Yurenya repeated his superb performance in the kayak single 5,000m race, with a photo finish against famed Norwegian rower Eirik Veras Larsen. In the closing metres, the Belarusian pulled ahead by 0.3 seconds, also winning bronze in the 200m.
The Belarusian kayak four women’s 500m race saw Irina Pomelova, Nadezhda Popok, Olga Khudenko and Marina Poltoran take gold. In the spring Cup rounds, they were determined to show their worth with a double win. In Serbia, the Belarusian girls had little difficulty in knocking out their rivals, while Marina Poltoran also took gold in her favourite 5,000m.
The canoeists also added some weight to the Belarusian medals bag, making their debut in Belgrade. Yekaterina Gerasimenko and Svetlana Tulupova took part last year and have clearly improved since then, being the first to cross the finish line in the 500m canoe pair.
Meanwhile, Hamburg saw the second World Cup round in academic rowing. Belarusian Yekaterina Karsten, 39, is tireless this season. She won the 2,000m race hands down — ahead of her nearest rival, Emma Twigg of New Zealand, by almost two seconds. Karsten was in third position for the first half of the race but, reaching the 1,500m mark, pulled ahead to take the lead, strengthening her position by the finish line.
In Hamburg, Belarusian women’s canoe pair Yulia Bichik and Tatiana Kukhta took bronze in the 2,000m, as did the Belarusian men’s canoe four (Vadim Lyalin, Denis Migal, Stanislav Shcherbachenya and Alexander Kozubovsky).