Scheenaard medal possibility at rowing world championships

Lisa Scheenaard, TU/e student of Building Physics, qualified this morning for the A-Final of the World Rowing Championships, putting herself within reach of a medal. Together with her rowing partner, she finished third in the semifinal. Sander de Graaf, Master's student of Mechanical Engineering, will be rowing on Saturday afternoon in the D-Final of the Men's Double Sculls. The two students and members of student rowing association Thêta are competing this week at the World Rowing Championships, held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

photo Merijn Soeters

“I hope I'm tense before my competitions,” answers Lisa Scheenaard to the question whether she is ever nervous. “Those nerves can be physically unpleasant but I embrace that suffering. It has to feel like it matters. You row faster if you have that tension.”

With Roos de Jong, she finished in a time of 06:53:00 this morning in the semifinal, good enough to come third and secure a place in the A-Final, in other words the ‘highest’ final. Last year Scheenaard already had high expectations of her partnership with De Jong. The only thing needing a bit of improvement were the results. “Last year I was rowing at bow and she was at stroke. We swapped positions, and since then we've been doing much better. We trained hard last year, everything was geared to preparing for the world championships.”

For the time being, Lisa is putting the skiff, the one-person boat in which she has also achieved good results in the past, to one side. “I've parked the skiff competitions. But if I need to go back to the skiff, I know where to find it.”

The final, on Sunday afternoon at 12:00 noon, will be very exciting, expects Lisa. “New Zealand is the favorite, but the times of the other participants are all close together.”

Sander de Graaf will be rowing in the D-Final on Saturday with Vincent Klaassens. De Graaf: “We would have liked to have done better in the semis, but physically we weren't at our very best. Just recently we had to work our socks off to qualify for the European and World championships. That had already taken a lot out of us.” For Sander just rowing at the World Rowing Championships is in itself a whole new experience. “I did actually take part in the World under-23s but everything here is bigger, faster. This is what it is all about for everyone. All the participants are at battle strength. And those rowers who I always used to watch on TV, now our boat is right next to theirs. The interaction with the other participants is also good fun. I sometimes get really nervous before a competition, but it is manageable. Ultimately you only have to do what you can do, and not what you can't do.”

The studies of the two elite rowers have been put on the back burner for the time being. Sander: “I still have a couple of Master's courses to do and I hope to do an internship later this year. I manage it period by period.” Lisa: “Last winter I took a couple of courses and I'll do the same again this coming winter. I am focusing on rowing. I have to seize my chances.”

Main photo: Lisa Scheenaard, (left), in action at the World Rowing Championships. Photo | Merijn Soeters

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