Czech Expectations from World Rowing Championships: Knapkova Wants Any Medal, Synek Only Gold; Slovakia’s Babac Hopes for a Medal Too

Nothing but gold is the goal of Czech Republic’s single sculler, Ondřej Synek, for the upcoming World Rowing Championships in Karapiro, New Zealand. When asked by Czech reporters in a press conference in Prague on 14 October whether he aims for gold, Synek replied: “Nothing else would please me. But, anything can happen.” Synek’s replies were summarised in a number of Czech dailies such as Mladá fronta Dnes (with its website platform Idnes.cz) and Právo (with its affiliate website Sport.cz).

Czech single sculler Ondřej Synek earned Olympic silver in Beijing 2008. Source: screen grab from a YouTube video.

The Czech rower’s life moments may come condensed in three days of November: the A finals of men’s single sculls where Synek is expected to appear as the unbeaten favourite of this season are scheduled for Saturday, 6 November; two days later, his fiancée Pavla Bezová is expected to give birth to their first child. “I hope they will wait for me with the delivery. If it comes sooner, I will feel a little sorry,” the athlete was quoted on the Idnes.cz website as saying.

On her part, the Czech women’s single sculler, Mirka Knapková, is not as categorical as her male counterpart in the national team. “I would definitely be pleased with any medal. There was a very tight start field in women’s single at the European Championships in Portugal. Moreover, home sculler [Emma] Twigg will belong to the big favourites here [in New Zealand]. I expect it will by thrilling. Anyway, I am looking forward to it very much,” Knapková declared in an interview posted on the Sport.cz website on 16 October.

The closest nation to Czechs, Slovaks are going to kill two birds with one stone in Karapiro: Slovakia will be represented by its lightweight men’s single sculler Lukáš Babač who will also start in the heavyweight category. As Babač suggested in an interview aired by the Slovak television station TA3 on 14 October, he has decided to undertake the single sculling duathlon largely in preparation for the Olympic qualification next year where he will obviously try to compete in heavyweight single. “I want to test myself and see what chance I have against the heavy guys,” said Babač. This year’s lightweight world university champion says about his goals for Karapiro: “In the lightweight single, I would like to get among the first six, and I actually think a little of a medal. In the heavyweight single, [I want to finish] in the first eight.”

(UPDATE: In the end, Synek had indeed made it and won for the Czech Republic – and former Czechoslovakia as a whole – the first world champion title in an Olympic rowing event. Rowing his life races both in semifinal and final, Slovakia’s Babač snatched silver. He also earned an overall 18th position among heavyweight singles. Only Knapková’s pre-regatta wish did not come true as she had finished fourth.)

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