With just two months to go til finals day at the Junior World Rowing Championships, this year being held in Račice, Czech Republic, we spoke to the Danish junior men's quad entry about the highs and lows of their season so far as they look ahead to the summer.
The Junior Men’s Quad project started in February of this year with our head coach, Frederik Secher, recruiting the six best junior scullers in Denmark with the intention of making a quad and double scull. The quad were to be the top priority crew and the double second. The final decision as to who rowed the quad and double was made during our Easter training camp, which took place in the harbor of Copenhagen. We were selected based on our erg scores during the winter, but most importantly, our ability to make the boat go fast as a team.
The Easter training camp lasted one week and took place at the end of March. As mentioned earlier, the quad is the top priority of the Danish junior sculling squad this year and was therefore the boat we wanted to row at the end of camp. Over the first couple of days, we tried a number of different combinations, both in the quad and the double, but soon figured out who would row in which crew.
The announcement of the teams was first made during individual meetings between us rowers and our coach Frederik. During the meeting, we talked about our individual strengths and weaknesses as rowers and what we had to work on in the near future.
The quad which was selected was, from stroke to bow: Oliver Skov Jerkovic, Jacob Lenzing, Adrian Flarup Johansen and Nicholas Kilbinger Andersen. We were really pleased to be selected to row the quad, especially since all of us apart from Adrian, who lives in the other end of the country, had rowed together for the last three seasons.
Post team selection, we had a talk about our dreams for the season to come. Our biggest dream is to take a medal at the Junior World Championships, since the quad with Oliver and Jacob came fifth last year.
Racing and the European Championships
During the period from March to May, we competed in a bunch of national regattas as well as the Junior European Championships.
The national regattas went really well for us. Our first regatta of the season took place in Odense (approx. 1 hour 45 minute drive from Copenhagen) where we rowed 6000 meter races against almost all rowers in Denmark, including the senior national team. The regatta lasted over the course of a weekend and we won our age group on both days. We also had the best prognose of all boats on both days, meaning that our time had the highest percentage compared to the world record in our respective boat class and age (Junior, U23 and Senior).
Our second regatta took place in Bagsværd (part of the Copenhagen area), the weekend before the Europeans. It was a great opportunity to race against the big guys from our U23 and Senior national team and see how close we could get to them. Sunday we had a really great race, were we went under six minutes on the 2000 meter for the first time in the quad.
Now to the European Championships. We took the plane to France with high hopes and dreams of gold (the quad with Oliver and Jacob took bronze last year)-feeling great. We arrived, rigged our boat and went out to try out the course. We were staying at a place called Sportica, where we slept and ate breakfast and dinner, which we wouldn’t recommend (!) as it wasn't the best.
Suddenly it was Saturday, our first race day! We were really excited to row our heat against Ukraine, Croatia and Austria. We won our heat with the fourth overall fastest time. After our heat, we went on to relax and prepare for Sundays semifinal A/B against Poland, the Czech Republic (hosts of the Junior World Championships this year), Croatia, Austria and Norway . On Sunday we came second in our semifinal meaning that we went to the A final! We passed the time between the semifinal and the A final by laying down, eating, drinking plenty of water and talking with our coach Frederik. All of sudden it was time. Time to head to the start. We rowed out ready to row our asses off, knowing that the other countries felt just like us.
We got called in for the start 12 minutes before the start because of an error in the starting tower. This was slightly annoying, but didn’t really affect us. The race plan was clear, we really had to step our game up in the middle thousand meters to compete with the other guys. The 12 minutes passed, we went through the race plan preparing our bodies for pain. Hearing the judge call “attention” we felt the nerves streaming through our bodies. Then we heard the “beep”.
We had the lead for the first 200-300 meters but around the 700 meter mark we lost speed. Going through 1000 meters we were in third place knowing that it was now or never. The other guys started pushing, Romania moved in on us. At 1500 meters we went for it. Pushing everything we had we moved in on France, Romania and the Czechs.
Reaching the finish line we knew that we had finished fourth. It was really devastating, especially because we felt like our race went badly and that it was so close! We were 0.47 second from the podium and 0.89 seconds from second place. After the final we had a quite ambivalent feeling. On the one hand, it was so annoying to miss the podium by so little, but on the other hand, we felt that we weren’t out of the game just yet and that if we trained really hard, everything was still possible.
Many thanks to the Danish JM4x for sharing their story with us at AllMarkOne. We wish them the best in Račice this summer!