Sarasota, Florida, has been awarded the 2017 World Rowing Championships. The event will be held at Nathan Benderson Park and will mark the first time in more than 20 years that the event will be staged in the United States.
Officials from the U.S. Rowing Association, Sarasota County, Manatee County, Visit Sarasota County and Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates were on hand to hear the announcement, which was made at the annual FISA Ordinary Congress in Chungju, South Korea, following the 2013 World Rowing Championships.
“U.S. Rowing is pleased and excited with FISA’s recognition of Sarasota as a world-class venue and its awarding of the 2017 World Rowing Championships to the United States,” said Glenn Merry, U.S. Rowing’s chief executive officer. “Sarasota has done something for rowing in America that is truly remarkable—creating, from scratch, a world-class rowing venue that will attract the top athletes from around the world.”
The 2017 World Rowing Championships are expected to attract more than 1,000 Olympic-caliber athletes from more than 70 countries. The international competition, which takes place in the three years leading up to the Olympic Games, will be broadcast to a worldwide television audience of 130 million people. An estimated 40,000 spectators are expected to attend the event, according to U.S. Rowing.
“Our team has been working so intensely on this bid for the past 10 months, to see our dream now realized is an incredible moment,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota. “We now have this opportunity to show off our wonderful community and our hospitality to the world.”
In addition to the commitment of local elected officials and the community, FISA officials cited the park’s close proximity to I-75, Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport and the city of Sarasota, calm waters, and year-round good weather as reasons for choosing Nathan Benderson Park, according to U.S. Rowing.
“Earlier this summer, U.S. Rowing began implementation of our plan to ensure this site gets the national attention it deserves by holding our 2013 U.S. Rowing Masters National Championships at Nathan Benderson Park,” said Merry. “U.S. Rowing is a committed partner with SANCA, and this is the first in what I believe will be many opportunities for U.S. Rowing to bring national and regional-level competitions to this venue, in addition to hosting training camps for the U.S. National Team and athletes from other nations.
In addition to awarding the 2017 championships, FISA member federations elected Jean-Christophe Rolland of France as the next president. Rolland participated in three Olympic Games, winning bronze in Atlanta in 1996 and gold in Sydney in 2000. He also holds five World Championship medals including two golds. Rolland will assume the presidency in July 2014, when the current president Denis Oswald will step down from the position.
The Congress also elected Tricia Smith as vice-president, winning 98 of a possible 178 votes. Smith was running against the incumbent Vice-President Anita DeFrantz, a member of the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors.