Heavyweight Crew's Andrew Knoll Wins U-23 World Indoor Rowing Championship
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Over this past weekend, Andrew Knoll (Greenback, Tenn.) a sophomore on the Navy heavyweight crew team competed in the World Rowing Indoor Championships in Alexandria, Va. Racing versus an international field in the Under-23 Men's 2000-meter event, Knoll finished in first place to claim the world title in that U-23 division. Knoll completed his 2000-meter erg piece with a personal-best time of 5:56.1.
The two-day event at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria played host to 1,536 total participants competing a variety of age and discipline specific races on erg machines. In Knoll's specific event the U-23 Men's 2000, the sophomore was up against 27 challengers with a mixture of international and collegiate backgrounds. In a tight race, Knoll clocked in 1.8 seconds ahead of Marton Szabo (5:57.9) of the Hungarian Rowing Federation. Two Chinese rowers, Songhu Zhang and Wancheng Liu also finished the 2000 meters in under six minutes at 5:58.7 and 5:59.5, respectively. A periodical breakdown of Knoll's race saw him at a 1:31.1 pace at the 500-meter mark, a 1:30 pace at 1,000 meters, a 1:28.7 pace at 1,500 meters before closing with a 1:26.3 pace over the closing final quarter of the race.
"I knew there would be competitors from all across the world, but I had no inclination of where I stood in relation to their scores," remarked Knoll. "My strategy was to not worry about the competition, but simply to go out, have a good piece, and try to beat my personal best, which I had set four days prior. The atmosphere and energy of the announcers, crowd, and cameras added another level of pressure, but I was able to stay internal and stick to my race plan, which set me up well to have a strong finishing sprint.
"I believe there is an immense weight with claiming the title of World Champion and I realize that the Indoor Championships this past weekend were only a small representation of all the talented U-23 athletes across the world, so it is difficult to fully own the title. With that being said, it is surreal to have earned my first World Rowing gold medal and it only serves to motivate me further to earn another!"
Knoll's also sees this weekend as a turning point for his career and that so much competition lays ahead. He remarked about watching other divisions race at the championship, that "it was humbling to watch the older guys compete in the Men's Open 2000m. The winner of that event would have beat me by 12 seconds, so I have a lot of room to grow and improve in the years to come."
The Navy heavyweight crew team will kick off its 2018 spring schedule next month with a home dual meet versus Princeton on March 31.