Race-rusty sculling queen Kim Crow will use this weekend’s start to the national rowing titles as a key build-up to her World Cup showdown with Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova.
Crow has not raced since becoming the single sculls world champion in South Korea last September and is relishing the chance to dust off the cobwebs in the nationals, starting with heats on Sunday at Penrith Lakes.
The eight-day Sydney International Rowing Regatta will combine both the Australian titles, interstate regatta and the opening World Cup event of the year.
The premier World Cup regatta starts on Friday (March 28) but by that time Crow should have raced in the nationals in the single and double sculls.
The Olympic silver and bronze-medallist – who has charted a four-year program heading into the 2016 Rio Games – has endured a big training block over the 2012-13 summer to be at her strongest and most consistent in the water since switching to the single boat.
“I’m a little underdone in the racing department but I feel I’m fit and strong,” she told AAP.
“In some ways it’s good having nationals leading into the World Cup … it puts me in a good space to do my best race on the Sunday in the World Cup final.
“It’s a really good opportunity to practise racing.”
Czech sculler Knapkova won gold emphatically in London but Crow and Kiwi Emma Twigg took the top two spots in last year’s world championships.
In a regatta that many of the big-name Europeans have chosen to bypass, Crow is delighted to see Knapkova start her 2014 campaign down under and take on the Victorian and Twigg.
“It will be fantastic,” she told AAP. “I’m absolutely rapt.
“You want that opportunity to race the best in the world and it brings a real stage to the event.”