Everybody knows that Germany, Italy, the US and Australia produce fast rowing teams. So where are the Byelorussians coming from? On the first day of the Junior Worlds, some of the more memorable performances have were turned in by crews one would normally not consider rowing powerhouses.
The Byelorussian junior women, doubling from the pair and four into the eight, went perfect on the day, winning their opening heats in all three events. Not entirely darkhoses, the BLR girls are the defending champions in the Junior women's pair, but the coxless 4 is a new crew and the eight, which turned in the fastest qualifying time in the event, has gone from contender to favorite in the 6:13 that it took them to cover the 2000 meter course.
In other spirited finishes, the Latvian Junior women's double sprinted through the crew from Hungary to claim their spot in the semi, while in the coxed pair, the crew from the Ukraine withstood a withering charge from Peru to claim the qualifying spot.
Peru? Ukraine? Latvia? Not countries that one might normally consider hotbeds of rowing. But, given today's results, we can expect to see some of these crews medalling on Saturday, showing that, perhaps, rowing really is on its way to becoming a truly universal sport.