At the end of July, world records fell at The World Games. Olena Buryak (Ukraine) set a new 2k world record of 6:22.8. In addition to setting a new fastest time in the Olympic distance, she also set a new world record in the 500m sprint distance. Her world record now stands at 1:24.5.
First held in 1981, The World Games are an international multi-sport event meant for sports (or disciplines or events within a sport) that are not contested in the Olympic Games. They are organized and governed by the International World Games Association (IWGA) and recognized and promoted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
There were more than 3000 athletes competing in more than 30 sports this year including lacrosse, squash, jiu-jitsu, canoe polo, powerlifting, orienteering and, for the first time, indoor rowing. For the past two years, Concept2 has been working with the World Rowing Federation (FISA) to put together the competition, manage the qualification procedure and offer advice on indoor racing. Men and Women's Openweight athletes competed over 2k and 500m. Lightweight Men and Women raced the 2k distance. There was also a 4x500m exhibition relay for multi-national teams, giving athletes who usually compete against each other the chance to row together.
In addition to Olena's noteworthy races, a new star is rising. The winner of the men's 2k race, Oliver Zeidler (Germany) only converted from swimming to rowing in the past six months. At only 20 years old, he's one to watch! Despite his relative newness to the sport, he has a rowing pedigree in his family. His aunt and grandfather are both Olympic champion rowers. At 6' 8'' and 230 pounds, he was far from the biggest athlete there but proved to be fastest (5:42.0). In the lightweight event, Anna Berger (Austria) took home gold with a row of 7:12.7. Polish rower Artur Mikolajczewski won among Lightweight Men with a time of 6:08.2. The winning men's 500m time was 1:12.1, rowed by Ukrainian Anton Bondarenko.
By all accounts, indoor rowing at the World Games was a big success, so hopefully we will continue to see it included in future Games. The next host city will be Birmingham, Alabama, 2021.