It was a return to indoor rowing for M1 the weekend as four of the team participated in the first edition of the Downing Eliminator. It was an innovative format akin to the elimination race found in track cycling, 8 rowers would start off on the erg with every 30s the rower who had travelled the smallest distance being eliminated and the distances being reset.
With it being the inaugural edition the format would be simple, 4 semi-finals with the top two proceeding to the final.
The first semi-final saw Nati (Engineering, year 4) put out a strong performance to see him make it to the final two before making a move that would become synonymous with Churchill and stopping and not competing for the semi final victory to conserve himself for the final. Semi-final two saw Elliot Farrar (Chemistry, year 4) match Nati’s effort to claim another place in the final (again stopping once he made it to the final 2). Third up was Dominik Kloepfer (Physics, year 2) who after qualifying in second had the result appealed with Hughes Hall accusing Dom of having more than the permissible 27.6 degrees of neck swing before eventually being allowed to compete in the final. The final semi-final saw a very late signup as Thomas Upton (Engineering, year 3) had decided he wasn’t as injured as he thought he was and was allowed to race with less than five minutes before the race and will a distinct lack of shorts/trainers etc, however despite competing in jeans he made it 4/4 for Churchill with all rowers qualifying for the final.
The final was set up to be a cracker with 4 Churchill taking on 4 from Downing. With the 3 men and a dog audience already hyped up from the Women’s final it was time for the Churchill v Downing showdown. Furthermore there would be just two lightweights in the final (Dom and Elliot) and so not only would this race crown the overall victor but there was a inter-Churchill battle for the lightweight medal.
And from the off it was manic. The first two eliminations were raced at 1.30.8 and 1.32.7 splits respectively and it was Churchill who drew first blood seeing off two of their Downing compatriots after just one minute of racing. Sadly the next minute and a half very much belonged to Downing with Dom (6th), Tom (5th) and Elliot (4th, fastest lightweight) all falling to the intensity of the competition. This left just Nati against two members of Downing and Nati duly saw off another by just 40cm to see himself through to the top 2 shootout. The final 30s between Nati and his Downing counterpart were raced at a 1.26.9 average however in the end Nati (2nd) was pipped to the post missing out on the title by just 1.5m.
After the race Nati was humble in his defeat saying “I would have beaten him weight adjusted and there was a conspiracy to put all the fastest people in my heat”