September 16, 2018; Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Last month, Blake traveled to Plovdiv, Bulgaria to compete in the 2018 World Championships. This year’s World Championship PR1 Single Skulls event featured not only a competitive field of athletes, but also represented the first edition of racing with new rules governing how athletes would be strapped into the boats. Against this backdrop, the races did not disappoint.
Blake entered his opening heat against five of the world’s elite para-rowers. There are two ways to advance from the opening heat. The path of least resistance is to finish among the top two positions in your respective heat. Doing so results in automatic advancement to the semi-final. Alternatively, if an athlete fails to finish among the top two in their heat, they get another chance in a repechage heat. The top two finishers from the repechage heat also advance to the semi-finals, but this requires going through a second heat while other racers finishing in the top two positions of their opening heat rest and save energy.
Blake finished comfortably in second place in his opening heat, finishing behind Russia’s representative, and a full 30 seconds ahead of the third place finisher from Nigeria. This was good enough to advance Blake straight to the semi-final without going through the repechage.
The semi-finals featured the World’s twelve best PR1 single skull para-rowers split into two heats with six competitors in each heat. To advance from the semi-final, rowers must finish in the top three of their heat. Failure to do so means you are eliminated from contention for the World Championship final heat. Blake featured in the first semi-final, comfortably finishing second in his heat and advancing to the World Championship final heat.
The final featured the world’s six best para-rowers. The final heat was an exciting climax to a wonderful World Championship event. In the end, Blake edged out the Brazilian athlete by a little under a second to secure a fourth place finish. This ties Blake’s best ever finish at the World Championships.
Watch the full race video here: 2018 World Championship Final Heat