Mexico bringing a large team to the World Rowing Indoor Championships in Canada

By Stuart Miller-Davis

Indoor rowers from Mexico are excited to be coming to Mississauga when Canada hosts the World Rowing Indoor Championships (WRICH) for the first time ever.  24 athletes make-up the Mexican team that will be among over 70 countries represented in person at the 2023 World Rowing Indoor Championships (WRICH 2023).

“Canada has made a great effort to bring back a world class competition,” said Team Manager Santiago Fuentes. “It’s going to be a blast and I think people will want to go to more indoor rowing events in North America in the future.”

Fuentes has been leading teams from the country to international rowing events since 2003 and before the pandemic took a group of nine athletes to Paris for the WRICH. He says that not having to travel to Europe “will allow more people to participate in the sport at the championship level.”

Fuentes is salesman in Mexico for Concept2, the makers of the ergs and presenting sponsor for WRICH 2023 He said there’s two potential contenders for the podium on the team with Jessica Moreno in the women’s 23-39 2000m lightweight, and Rocio Sanchez in the women’s 50-54 200m lightweight competitions.  But Fuentes says the team is in Canada for more than the medals. 

“It’s a competition but it’s also a very nice gathering of athletes from all over the world,” he said. “We have made amazing friendships with people coming back for their fifth or sixth year.”

Fuentes has been to 17 or 18 of these international indoor rowing championships and he’s looking forward to a great atmosphere with the people he’s gotten to know from across the globe.

“It’s a huge sports party within rowing that we’re looking forward to continuing in Canada.”

Some of the best indoor rowers in the world will be coming to the Paramount Fine Foods Centre including Finland’s Joel Naukkarinen who will be competing in the first ever World Rowing Versa Challenge to crown the most versatile indoor rower. The @RowingFinn on Instagram has been a member of the national team since 2014 and in October won bronze at the 2022 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Saundersfoot, Wales, the first medal for the country in coastal rowing.

One of the athletes to watch virtually is Ukraine’s Olena Buryak – who hopes to compete from Ukraine despite the violence currently taking place in her country. Buryak is a two-time Olympian and former indoor rowing record holder. She will be racing virtually in the women’s 23-39 2000m race on Sunday at 14:53 EST. She told World Rowing in 2015 she started rowing when she was 12 then quit to learn piano. Finding that too difficult, she returned to rowing and has never looked back.

The reigning world champion single sculler, Germany’s Oliver Zeidler, will be competing on the floor at Paramount Fine Foods Centre. The former competitive swimmer turned rower is racing in the men’s 23-39 2000m race on Sunday afternoon. WRICH 2023 serves as the next test before the 2023 World Rowing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, the qualifiers for Paris 2024.

Charlotte Dixon from Northern Ireland is the youngest competitor in the Versa Challenge at 24-years-old. The gold medallist in the women’s U23 500m at the virtual 2021 WRICH picked up indoor rowing to train for horseback riding. Dixon will be out to prove her versatility as an athlete and hopes to be crowned a Versa Challenge champion.