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Jack Prior on top of the world

The top event for the year in the rowing calendar for Under 23 rowers is the World Rowing Under 23 Championships. This years event was held on Lake Varese in the Northern part of Italy from the 25th to the 30th of July. The town of Varese lies at the foot of the Campo dei Fiori mountain range overlooking the Lake where the racing occurs.  The lake itself is 8.8km long and 4.5km wide with the race course nestled in the south east corner.  This venue has hosted Championships, Masters and World Cup events over the past decade and was well prepared for the 2022 edition of the World Rowing U23 Championships.

Gibraltarian Jack Prior arrived in Varese with the Great Britain (GB) squad the week before racing, his selection for the eights event confirmed just a week before that. Last year saw the GB eight win gold against USA by the tightest of margins, this year the GB crew came with firm intentions of retaining their title. The temperature was in the 30 degree celsius range and the squad had to quickly adapt to the heat and the fast rowing conditions.

On Tuesday 26th heats were run for the eights event- first place in each heat finding a direct route to the final- the rest having to race the following day in repechage for the remaining spots. In heat 1 Australia posted a time of 5.34 down the 2km course, holding off hosts Italy, Czech Republic, Canada, Ukraine and France.
In the second heat the GB eight set of at a blistering pace in the fast conditions, intent not only on securing a direct route to the final, but also on securing the fastest time of the day and beating Australia’s time from the first heat. Relentlessly taking the race against the strong threats from the Germans and American crews on their side of the draw, Jack and his GB crew stormed down the course in a time of 5.25.06, setting themselves up as favourites for the final on Saturday 30th.

On Saturday conditions had changed and a slower course greeted Jack and the GB eight as they set out to defend their title in this boat class. It was Australia that had the fastest start, hoping to unsettle the GB boat who were second fastest over the first few hundred metres, but GB eased into their length and unfaltering rhythm to take a controlling lead ahead of Australia with the USA in third. Jack and his GB crew were not to be caught, fighting off a late surge from USA who moved past Australia for second place.

Just like that Jack collected another Gold medal to add to his tally of European U23, British University and Henley wins and an exceptionally impressive top three at the  Head of the River in March of this year.  Jack’s family and friends watching the live stream at his local Calpe Rowing Club erupted in celebration as social media lit up with messages of congratulations from HM government of Gibraltar through to the whole of the local sporting fraternity.

Jack Prior is now undeniably sat at the head of the top table of local sports. He has reached world level for Great Britain in such a convincing fashion on the back of a year of successes that would individually stand out as unique for any Gibraltarian and collectively tell the story of another year in the progression of undoubtedly Gibraltar’s greatest rowing athlete. - JZ

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