A gold to start

Esther Briz didn’t even have the strength to smile. As soon as the regatta finished, Aina Cid, her tandem partner, served as a fulcrum for her to let herself fall back. On the podium, the Catalan passed the Aragonese arm over her shoulders to support her. Briz had left everything to her, but she had been worth it. In their first competition together and with only two months of training, they clinched gold in the first World Cup of the season, in Zagreb (Croatia). On Friday, in their first international series as two coxless, they were already the best; This Sunday, in the final, they ratified it ahead of the Czechs and Croats. Behind them, five other boats also flew the Spanish flag (in total, two gold, three silver and one bronze). Among the medalists, the men’s double without Javier García and Jaime Canalejo (silver), world podium last year, the double sculls of the world runners-up Aleix García and Rodrigo Conde (bronze), and a Virginia Díaz (W1x) brilliant, which closed the national harvest with another gold.

“The ambition is maximum. We must target everything. In the competitions that we do, at least in the preparation ones, the objective is to stay with a good feeling and give 100%. In the World Cups, we are interested in a good position to be able to qualify for the Games. Apart from that, the higher up, the better, but the objective is to meet the correct times”, Esther explained to AS on Thursday, one day after debuting in Croatia. One day away, too, from demonstrating that the times are correct and promising. Today, she and Aina, a double Olympic diploma, went out with the conviction that they could be the best. They did not speculate. When it came to the middle of the regatta, the Czechs Radka Novotnikova and Pavlina Flamikova were out half a boat, who pressed, but they no longer recovered all the meters ceded. With a time of 07:16.49, the Spanish crossed the finish line to start their joint adventure with a gold medal. With what it takes to beat the Czech Republic (07:17.22) and with authority over Croatia (07:36.73), the other boat present in final A.

When Esther and Aina tested together for the first time, they were placed at identical standards to those of their male counterpart, the coxless pair of Javier García and Jaime Canalejo, who has picked up where he left off. After their European silver and their world bronze, this Sunday only the Swiss Roman Roeoesli and Andrin Gulich could surpass them (06:30.98, three seconds ahead of the Spanish). As in the women’s event, the first meters defined the outcome, in which the curious Andalusian couple, one from Seville (Canalejo) and the other from Betic (García), could not assert their powerful rush final. Case similar to that of the European and world runners-up Aleix García and Rodrigo Conde, only behind (06:20.53) the Croatian brothers Martin and Valent Sinkovic, true stars of rock (Red Bull cap, sponsor, included) that continue to another level (06:16.74).

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With the Europeans in sight

“On an objective level, with the data from the training sessions and the tests carried out, they are very good, in better physical condition than last year. They are with an established technical level and, in certain aspects, also better. In what we can control, I consider that the level has been increased. Then, you have to corroborate it in the competition. At the data level, the conclusion is positive”, the head of coaches of the national team, Daniel Rodríguez Verdú, analyzed for this newspaper during the preview. He made reference to Javier, Jaime, Rodrigo and Aleix, but then expanded: “In general, all the boats have improved,” he pointed out. In Zagreb, it was evident. Above all, through Virginia Diaz’s thrilling finish, she prayed for a breath (07:33.93) ahead of Swiss Aurelia-Maxima Katharina Janzen (07:33.95). The one at El Astillero put the best possible finishing touch to a first World Cup that also recorded silver for Iria Jarama, Izaskun Echániz, María Fernanda Valencia and Olivia del Castillo (W4) and bronze for Caetano Horta and Manel Balastegui (LM2x). With the Europeans less than three weeks away (from 25 to 28 in Slovenia), things are promising.

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