By Rupert Guinness with the Australian Rowing Team in Belgrade
Australian Single Sculling champion Tara Rigney is ready to step up a gear and continue her trajectory towards the top of the dais when she races in the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade that start on Sunday morning (local time).
Rigney was a Bronze Medallist in last year’s World Championships at Račice in the Czech Republic and a Silver Medallist in World Cup II and III this year. She will be the second of five Australian boats to race in opening day of heats on Sunday.
The Australian Rowing Team will also be racing the championships on the Ada Ciganlija Regatta course in Belgrade to try to qualify boats for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.
The first Australian entry to race on Sunday will be Alex Rossi, a member of the Bronze Medal winning Australian Quad Scull at the Under 23 World Championships in May.
Rossi will race in the Men’s Single Scull heats. Following him will be Rigney in her heat, then the Men’s Lightweight Men’s Double Scull of Oscar McGuinness and Sean Murphy; the Men’s Coxless Pair of Fergus Hamilton and Simon Keenan and the Men’s Double Scull of Cormac Kennedy-Leverett and Harley Moore.
Rigney, 24 and a three-time Australian Single Sculls champion, is ready to show how much she has improved since her last race in World Cup III at Lucerne in Switzerland in early July. Rigney placed second to world champion Karolien Florijn, 25, of The Netherlands by 2.62 seconds.
After Lucerne, Rigney returned to Australia with the Women’s team to train at their base in Penrith. They flew back to Europe for two weeks to finish their world championship preparation on Lake Varese at Gavirate in Italy before travelling to Belgrade on Tuesday.
“To be even within two and a half seconds of [Florijn] … she’s an amazing athlete … that was surprising,” said Rigney of her margin to Florijn at Lucerne. “I have been working on certain parts of my race that I can improve on. It would be great to push myself that extra bit, to see how close I can get to her.”
Rigney knows that there are other strong opponents in the Single Scull. The depth in the class is great and Rigney must finish at least ninth – or at least third in the B Final – to qualify the boat for the Olympics in Paris. But she is not lacking in self-confidence to give the world title a real shake.
“We went home [to Australia] focus a lot on technical things that make me get more power throughout the water for less effort, but also to increasing my aerobic base,” Rigney said.
“It’s been fun experimenting. It’s been good. And as we get closer, I feel more confident and wanting to do it.”
Since arriving in Belgrade, Rigney has enjoyed her taper to be at full strength. The extra time off water has allowed her to catch up with her studies in Commerce and to read another book from the Book Club created by the women’s team.
“All of us are pretty big readers. I bought two books over and have finished them. Now we all start swapping books,” said Rigney who is now reading Haven written by Colleen Hoover and loaned to her by Lily Alton from the Women’s Eight.
“It’s a romance book, a classic boy meets girl. But there’s some dark twist to the story. I don’t know how it ends.”
Now Rigney stands to write the next chapter in her career as she prepares to power down the waters of Belgrade and challenge for a maiden world title.