3 min

The journey towards the Rowing World Championships 2023 of the Kiwa Fleet

As the World Rowing Championships are about to begin in a few days, and the rowers of the Kiwa fleet do their final preparations, we take a moment to reflect on the remarkable narratives that have unfolded within the Dutch National Rowing Federation. Behind every stroke, every oar dipped into the water, and every triumph, lies a story of perseverance and an unbreakable spirit. In recent weeks, athletes and staff have shared their stories with us. Read them here:

Against All Odds: Marloes Oldenburg

Behind the glistening medals and roaring cheers, the Dutch rowers have battled their way through countless obstacles. The journey to the World Championship has been strewn with challenges, from injuries that tested their resolve to training sessions under unforgiving weather conditions. Each athlete's determination to rise above adversities has been awe-inspiring, as they refused to be deterred by setbacks.

In a touching tale, we hear from Marloes Oldenburg, a rower whose dreams were nearly shattered by a career-threatening injury: in September 2022 she broke her neck in a mountain bike accident, only weeks after winning the silver at the 2022 World Championships: “It was a great day and we had great views on our mountain bike. I just ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's just bad luck. My goal from the beginning has been to come back and go for the Paris Olympics.”

Nevertheless, by 2023 she was back to rowing at the top level and managed to take bronze in the coxless four at the European Championships in Bled (Slovenia). Her unwavering willpower has not only inspired her teammates but has also reminded us all of the indomitable spirit that resides within each rower. Even if all the odds are against you.


A Journey Fueled by Passion: Michelle Darvill

Passion is the driving force behind every athlete's pursuit of excellence. The KNRB resonates with this sentiment, for the love they share for the sport is palpable. It's evident in every stroke they take and every race they compete in. Meet Michelle Darvill, former Canadian and German top lightweight rower, and national woman’s coach who joined the Dutch Rowing coaching staff at the end of 2021. 
Michelle came over from Canada, where she coached with the National Woman’s Team since 2006, and with great success: under her lead several medals were won, the absolute highlight being Olympic gold for the Canadian women’s eight at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. 
“I have learned that success at Olympic level is very much dependent on a highly functioning support system surrounding the athlete. Key to the effectiveness of the high-performance environment is a high degree of collaboration. What was attractive about the KNRB was the spirit of cooperation amongst all the support staff and the shared understanding that our role is to enable the athletes to fulfill their ambitions.”
While Michelle is one of the coaches leading the way in high-performance rowing, women are still in a noticeable minority. It’s one of the reasons why she is so passionate about encouraging female athletes to think about a career in coaching. “Opening the door early to women is vital, especially while they are still competing. It not only helps them to become better athletes, it also facilitates their transition into coaching when they end their athletic career.”


The Power of teamwork: Melvin Twellaar and Stef Broenink

Melvin Twellaar and Stef Broenink's journey to the 2023 World Championships highlights the strength of teamwork. Beyond being exceptional athletes, their bond as friends and teammates has been the driving force behind their collective dream of winning gold in the double sculls at the Paris 2024 Olympics. But first things first: the World Rowing Championships 2023.

Through the highs and lows, Melvin and Stef's belief in one another has been the cornerstone of their success. Their shared philosophy and relaxed approach to the sport have created an environment where they can thrive together. As Stef puts it, "We see each other as family." In the face of fierce competition and slim margins, their teamwork has proven to be an unbreakable asset. They draw strength from each other, providing the support needed to navigate through challenges and setbacks.


Follow the World Rowing Championships

We wish the teams the best of luck at the World Rowing Championships. The event will be held from 3 – 10 September in Belgrade, Serbia. Make sure to follow the Dutch athletes during the most important rowing event of the year. This year even more special, since tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympics are at stake.

For ongoing updates on the World Rowing Championship outcomes, visit www.worldrowing.com or follow the official Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/teamnlroeien/