Island rower Mia Croonquist has won her third world medal, taking silver in a women’s four at the World Junior Rowing Championships last week in Hamburg, Germany.
For a third year out of the last four, Croonquist, who recently graduated from Vashon High School, was selected to represent the United States at the world competition. And as in her two previous appearances, she brought home a medal to prove it.
As the bow rower in an un-coxswained four, Croonquist had the responsibility to not only pull her oar, but also to steer the course and call the race for her boatmates. This boat was the top priority for the 2014 junior women’s team, and the four seniors delivered on that responsibility.
The event at Hamburg’s Dove-Elbe Water Park took place Aug. 6 through 10 and included more than 700 top rowers from 56 countries. Although rowing in Hamburg dates back to 1846, the 2014 course was in a conservation area, meaning that all of the facilities, including the starting platforms and spectator viewing area, were portable and were removed after the racing.
On Wednesday, Croonquist’s boat placed first in its heat with the fastest time of all of the boats. In Saturday’s semi-final race, the women again placed first, but this time a team from China, the winner of the other semi-final, had a faster time by 2 seconds, setting up a showdown at Sunday’s final.
The U.S. boat got off to its signature fast start in the final race, leading through 1,500 meters, but the sprint that China had exhibited in its earlier races proved the decisive move. The American boat finished with the silver medal, just 2 seconds behind the team from China.
With Sunday’s race, Croonquist ends her junior rowing career with one gold and two silver medals at the world championships, making her one of the most successful junior rowers ever. Her story is even more inspiring as this season’s successes at the local, national and international levels have come after a year of recovery from a potentially career-threatening back injury.
After the competition, Croonquist has about a week off before heading to the University of California, Berkeley, where she will row for one of the top women’s college programs in the country.
— Pat Call is a recreational rower and the father of two rowers.