Ivan Popov - President of the World Rowing Under 23 Championship organizing committee:
Plovdiv is an established trademark in the world of rowing
Plovdiv will host the World Rowing Under 23 Championship that will take place from 19th to 23rd of July. In the recent years Plovdiv established itself as an excellent host for rowing championships. The second largest city in Bulgaria accepted the European Rowing Championship in 2011, the World Youth Rowing Championship in 2013 and the World Rowing Under 23 Championship in 2015.
Bulgaria applied for the World Cup regatta in 2019 and for the World Rowing Under 23 Championship in 2020. The applications will be discussed on the 10th of July at the FISA meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Three weeks before the start of the championship we are talking to the president of the organizing committee Ivan Popov.
- Mr. Popov, which good practices from the last world championship you intend to implement in organizing this year’s event?
- In 2015 Plovdiv proved to the world that it can organize an event on such scale – it was the main achievement of the 2015 World Championship – to make the city known in the rowing world. The Rowing channel is a well-known established trademark. It was very important that the World championship brought many businesses here in Plovdiv but we still have a lot to learn about the organization in the developed countries. In these countries a championship on this scale brings revenues of about 20 – 25 million euros for the host city. In 2015 Plovdiv received around 10 million euros from the event. This year’s championship will be also a grand rehearsal for the 2018 when we will host the World Rowing Championship.
- How many countries will take part in this year’s championship?
- 42 national federations have applied for participation to the present moment. There is still time and it is possible for this number to increase as there are countries who typically wait till the last moment.
- Mr. Popov, in July Plovdiv will also host the European Canoeing championship. Which are the challenges that you face in order to organize the two events?
- There will be two major championships at the Rowing channel in just 12 days – this is a real challenge which we haven’t faced yet. We have only the night of the 16th of July in order to turn the canoeing course into a rowing one. We have excellent communication with the organizers of the European canoeing championship and we will fulfill our part of the agreement. I am sure that everything will be fine provided there are no extreme situations as bad weather or very strong wind.
- How busy will be the channel in the days of the competition?
- It will be very busy during the selective series on 19th and 20th of July. There will be a start every 3 minutes and at some time there will be 4 races simultaneously which means 24 boats altogether. But this doesn’t bother us. As organizers we have just one worry – the weather. If there is a strong wind or hard rain it will cancel the competition. As a rule, in this time of the year the weather in Plovdiv is fine. It is very important for us because there are times when there are 100 – 150 boats in the water at the same time. This means they are in proximity of 20 meters and each boat is with different length, different speed and different abilities of its rowers.
- Which nations are among the favorites at the World rowing championship?
- I think that we can expect great performance from the rowers of Australia, New Zealand, Germany, England, USA in the bigger boats, Canada and Italy.
- Do you know how many boats will have Bulgaria in Plovdiv?
- The team is almost ready and the coach will soon announce it. As organizers we have the responsibility to provide the participants with the best conditions and I guarantee that it will be done.
- Are there any volunteers who would like to help you with the organizing of the championship in Plovdiv?
- Yes, the Organizing Committee depends vastly on the help of many volunteers most of who are rowers or were rowers in the past. We also receive great help from the students of the best Plovdiv schools who come and help to the teams. This World Championship will be the third in the last four years and in order to be successful we keep the same staff of the committee and continue to work with volunteers.
- If World Rowing Under 23 Championship is successful what are the chances for Plovdiv to host future rowing championships?
- I am sure that we have the experience, the opportunities and most important the will to organize a great competition. It will be “a red point” for the city for future championships. The only big “But” is the building of the second channel. I am sure that when we build it Plovdiv will be a host of a rowing championship every year. But if we don’t make second channel we will greatly reduce our chance to host such competitions in the future. That is why the Organizing committee, the Municipality of Plovdiv and everyone who loves rowing try hard to explain to the ecological organizations that the city needs this project and it must be done. So far those who want second rowing channel are winning in court and now we face a decision of the Supreme administrative court that cannot be appealed.