CLAYTON, CA (May 23, 2021) — Women’s single sculler Kara Kohler of Clayton won the silver medal Sunday at the 2021 World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, Switzerland as she returned to international competition and began her final preparations for the Tokyo Olympics in July.
The American women’s double sculls crew of Gevvie Stone and Kristina Wagner won a bronze medal in their event.
Stone had been Kohler’s No. 1 challenger for the single sculls berth on the American Olympic team at the Trials in March. With both those women’s boats having already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Lucerne provided a great opportunity for the scullers to test their speed internationally for the first time this year.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a week between arriving in Switzerland, getting used to the time and racing,” said Kohler immediately following Sunday’s race. “I’m really stoked to have this under my belt leading up to Tokyo.”
In the final of the women’s single sculls, Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig used a quick start to take the early lead. Five scullers sat within 1.10 seconds of each other at the 500-meter mark. In the second quarter of the race, Russia’s Hannah Prakhatsen, the 2021 European Champion who set the pace in the event all weekend, took over the top position with Kohler moving into second place.
Prakhatsen extended her advantage on the field during the third 500 meters as Kohler continued to hold second. Ireland’s Sanita Puspure, the defending world champion, pulled away from Lobnig into bronze-medal position, a half-length behind Kohler. As the crews crossed the finish line, Prakhatsen won gold in a 7:28.07, with Kohler claiming silver in a 7:29.57. Puspure won bronze in a 7:30.02. Lobnig finished fourth, less than one second back.
Motivation towards Tokyo
“I’m happy with my performance. And it’s definitely motivation towards Tokyo,” Kohler said. “I haven’t felt the best this week. But I’m happy to have raced, happy to have won a medal, and am motivated for the Games. I made some adjustments (today). I pushed through the whole 2k and worked on racing at a higher rating with a better rhythm. The data shows I was still under-stroking the field, so that’s something to practice for the next race.”
Kohler said it was great to be back racing internationally again this weekend, something that has been a long time coming.
“It’s crazy to think how long it’s been,” said Kohler. “But it felt natural to be back racing internationally despite some strange things about it – not having the (whole) team around, no spectators, some of the rules. It’s great to be back out competing and be able to do what I train for.”
Kohler, a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist from Cal Berkeley in the women’s quadruple sculls, began training in single sculls in 2018. She took fourth in 2018 and third in 2019 in her new event at the World Rowing Championships, which qualified the United States for a berth in that event at Tokyo. USRowing named her female athlete of the year in 2019.
The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are slated for July 23-Aug. 9. Rowing events start on the morning of July 23.
Follow Kara Kohler on Instagram.
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.