The start of the World Junior Rowing Championships marked one year until the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Racing at the 2015 Rio test regatta event got underway with the world's best junior men's single scullers in action on the first day of competition.
Ben Watkinson was the first to push out of the starting blocks in the Rio junior campaign for New Zealand. Watkinson competed in the men's single scull where there were a total of 25 crew entries. The heats were split into five races, with the top four from each heat advancing directly to the quarter-finals.
Ruben Claeys from Belgium led out early in the last men's single sculls heat of the day but his frontrunner status was short lived with New Zealand's bow surging to the front just 150m into the race. Watkinson was able to hold onto the lead through the first 500m timing marker, but Australia and Belgium kept pace and were hot on his stern. Watkinson dropped to second with the Australian sculler Adam Bakker charging to the front of the field going into the halfway point. Once in front Bakker then kept putting distance between himself and the other scullers. Watkinson was going stroke for stroke with Claeys into the final sprint for the line. Australia won comfortably in a time of 7:15.01, while Miroslav Jech from the Czech Republic followed just over three seconds back, Belgium just snuck ahead of the kiwi for third.
Seven New Zealand Junior rowing crews are in Rio competing in the Olympic 'dress rehearsal' regatta which is being held on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas from 5 to 9 August. The remainder of the New Zealand crews will race their heats on Thursday 6 August.
There are 563 top junior athletes from 54 countries competing at the Championships. New Zealand will be represented in seven boat classes including the men's single scull, women's quadruple scull, women's coxless four, men's coxed four, men's quadruple scull, women's pair and men's double scull.
A live race tracker, audio streaming, results, race reports, photo gallery and live blog as well as updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be available throughout the regatta on www.worldrowing.com.