For a few Yale rowers, the 2013 Under-23 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria, marked their first time competing internationally. For veterans of the international circuit, it was another chance to earn recognition for God, for Country and for Yale.
From July 24–28, eight Yale rowers, including three from the heavyweight team, two from the lightweight team and three from the women’s team, competed at the 2013 annual international championships in Austria. Though they faced challenging conditions — including a flood-damaged regatta area — the Bulldogs enjoyed representing their countries and realizing a long-term goal of participating in a global competition.
“When you start, you have your goals and expectations,” Hubert Trzybinski ’16 said. “And in the weeks ahead, that tension builds, and it’s tiring. When you cross that finish line, it’s relieving.”
For the men’s heavyweight team, Trzybinski took the gold medal in the single scull for Germany, while Simon Keenan ’15 finished fourth in Australia’s coxed four and Germany’s Stephan Riemekasten ’17 finished fifth in the double. Matthew O’Donoghue ’14 and Joseph Hanlon ’14 represented Yale’s lightweight crew team by taking sixth in the grand finale for USA in the coxless four. On the women’s side, Maddie Lips ’14 placed 11th in the single scull, Kim Szokol ’14 took eighth in the women’s four and Kristina Wagner ’15 finished 12th in the women’s pair, all representing the United States.
While many Elis competed at the U-23 championships, not a single one faced a Bulldog teammate as each raced in a separate category. Still, each athlete had to make the most of tough conditions due to a flood that stormed the regatta area just over a month before the start of the championships.
According to Riemekasten, the site’s river was overflowing with mud, and over a meter had to be removed before the start of the competition. Dried mud on the side of the course turned to dust, which made it difficult for rowers to breathe.
However, Bulldogs have overcome challenging conditions in the past, and many members of the Yale delegation were not strangers to the international stage.
Trzybinski was competing for Germany for the sixth time while Riemekasten wore the black, red and gold for the fifth time. Owen Symington ’14 won the silver medal in the coxless four for Australia in 2012 and Tom Dethlefs ’12 won the U-23 gold medals in the USA men’s eight in both 2011 and 2012.
“The number of Yale athletes competing at the U-23 Championships shows that the entire rowing program at Yale is going in the right direction,” Keenan said. “When the whole team does well, it really speaks well for the coaches and the rowers.”
Trzybinski said that without the support and coaching he received at Yale, he would not have been able to compete at the same level on the international stage. After sweeping nearly the entire season for the Bulldogs, Trzybinski returned to Germany just 10 days before the time trials began and transitioned to a single sculling boat, hoping to compete in the U-23 circuit for his last time. As most teams had been decided during the spring, he knew that the only way for him to qualify for the team would be to race by himself and win. In the end, he was six seconds faster than the rest of the competitors in the German trials and successfully qualified for the squad.
International Eli recognition brings success to Yale and its athletes, but it also helps the future of Yale Athletics, heavyweight crew head coach Steve Gladstone said. An incoming freshman, Riemekasten competed at the championships before stepping foot on Yale’s campus.
“Stephan is an example of the type of athlete that is now choosing Yale,” Gladstone said.
In spite of the success that members of the Yale crew team experienced over the summer, the Bulldogs are excited to be back on campus.
“It’s an honor that you represent your country and also your university, and we are very grateful for that,” Trzybinski said. “But we also do crew because we enjoy rowing, the team spirit of it, and because we dedicate ourselves and work really hard as a team for a common goal.”
The women’s and heavyweight crew programs will open up their fall seasons with competition at the Head of the Housatonic Oct. 12.