Five Heavyweight Rowers to Compete at Under-23 and Junior World Championships
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

NEW YORK -- Four Columbia heavyweights - rising juniors Mike Donohue and Sam Collins, rising sophomore Ben Coombs and incoming first-year Matt Ridgeway - have been selected to race at the 2011 Under-23 World Championships being held in Amsterdam from July 20-24.  Another incoming first-year, Graham Anderson, will race at the Junior World Championships in Eton, Great Britain from August 4-7.

Donohue will be racing on his second U-23 team for the United States in the men's quad event.  Last year, Donohue was the only rising sophomore to be selected to the U-23 team out of the selection camp and placed 10th in the men's quad at the U-23 World Championships. 

"This is a tremendous opportunity and I am honored and humbled to represent Columbia and the United States at the U-23s," Donohue remarked. "I am extremely grateful to Columbia Rowing and my coaches, both past and present, for preparing me to compete on the world stage."

Collins and Coombs have both been selected to their first U-23 team and will compete in the coxed four for Australia.  This is the second time that Collins will be representing Australia.  In 2009, he won a silver medal in the coxed four event at the Junior World Championships. It will be Coombs' first time racing at the world level. 

"The number of Columbia rowers competing this summer will make us all faster in years to come," Collins said. "I am excited to see the progress of the current team and incoming freshmen."

Ridgeway has been selected to race in the U-23 Australian eight.  This is Ridgeway's first time racing on the world stage. Meanwhile, his classmate Anderson won trials in the men's double and will stroke the United States double at the Junior World Championships.  Last year, Anderson was the stroke of the United States quad that finished 15th at the Junior Worlds Championships.

"The fact that they are all young and either returning varsity rowers or incoming freshmen means that they will all bring that experience back to Columbia this fall," said Mike Zimmer, Columbia's Head Coach and Director of Rowing. "That will help drive the entire team."

"Training and racing at the U-23 and junior level is a great way for our athletes to spend their summers," assistant coach Jon Douglas added. "The speed and skills they are gaining are incredibly valuable."

The Under 23 event has been in existence for nearly 30 years. Held for the first time in 1976 in Macon, France, under the title "Seniors Match" it eventually became the "Nations Cup" in 1992. FISA's 2005 Extraordinary Congress in Dubrovnik, Croatia, voted to upgrade the World Rowing Under 23 Regatta to World Rowing Championship status.

These championships are often funded by the student-athletes rather than rowing's governing body, USRowing.  Donations to Mike Donohue's quad can be made online via FirstGiving.