By Melissa Bray
Over 1,000 rowers got their 2,000m racing season started in Zagreb with the Croatia Open. In its 24th year, the race has grown to Croatia's biggest rowing regatta and over the weekend athletes from Slovenia, Serbia, Israel, Turkey, Italy, Austria, Slovakia and, of course, Croatia competed.
The Croatia Open signalled the return of Niksa and Sinisa Skelin to the men's pair as well as four-time Olympian (including the winter Olympics) Igor Boraska. Boraska last raced internationally at the Athens Olympics and this week came back to finish second in the pair with 25-year-old partner, Hrvoje Maric. Boraska also teamed up with the Skelins and Maric to win the men's four.
Brothers Niksa and Sinisa Skelin have been in pair partnership since 2001 after breaking away from their country's men's eight (bronze medallists at the 2000 Olympics). The pair partnership proved its worth and in 2004 they scored silver at the Athens Olympics. But injury for Sinisa knocked him out of 2006 competitive contention. The Croatia Open shows the duo are back in the running. The Skelins scored pair victory in a time of 6:35.
Lightweight rower Mirna Rajle used the Croatia Open to start her campaign towards Beijing Olympic qualification. Rajle has spent her rowing career competing in the lightweight single and took a short break through 2006 to have a baby. Now, with her seven month old baby in tow at regattas, she has teamed up with Iva Nadelin. If the duo manage Olympic qualification it will be the first Olympic Games for both of them.
Former under 23 champion, Iva Obradovic (Serbia) easily won the women's single (7:39) over lightweight Austrian Michaela Taupe who is going into her 16th year of international competition.
Spokesperson Dejan Novkovic described weather conditions as perfect for the two day regatta on Lake Jarun sunny, no wind with temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius.
1. Niksa and Sinisa Skelin, Igor Boraska, Hrvoje Maric
2. Rok Kolander, Tomaz Pirih, Bostjan Bozic, Miha Pirih
3. Branimir Vujevic, Josip Stojcevic, Marin Begovic, Branko Begovic
1. Sinisa and Niksa Skelin
2. Igor Boraska, Hrvoje Maric
3. Rok Kolander, Tomaz Pirih
1. Mario Vekic
2. Damir Martin
3. Andrez Krek
1. Mario Vekic, Erik Brec
2. Marin Mladinic, Hrvoje Jurina
3. Andrez Krek, Matej Rodela
1. Iva Nadelin, Mirna Rajle-Brodanac
2. Jasmina Brkic, Sonja Keserac
3. Anna Markulinova, Barbora Sagova
1. Erik Brec, Lanko Dragojevic, Mario Vekic, Sven Bohnec
2. Marko Grace, Gasper Fistravec, Jernej Jurse, Janez Zupanc
3. David Sain, Marin Mladinic, Damir Martin, Hrvoje Jurina
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