Sam Melvin said he did not come into the World Rowing Under 23 Championships with any specific goal or placement in mind.
Melvin certainly left with a breakthrough victory in the lightweight men’s single scull division.
The 22-year-old Huntington Beach native, who rows at Newport Sea Base, won gold in the regatta completed July 28 in Sarasota, Fla. His time of 7 minutes 6.67 seconds bested second-place Obbe Tibben of the Netherlands (7:06.83) and third-place Rainer Kepplinger of Austria (7:08.92)
Melvin, who will be a senior at Columbia University and previously rowed at Orange Coast College for two years, was the only American to win gold in the regatta. The United States did earn three silver medals and three bronzes.
“That really did mean a lot,” Melvin said. “I’m kind of in disbelief, honestly. I definitely didn’t expect that going in, but it feels pretty good ... Really, to me, it’s more personal gratification. I’ve really seen my work pay off. I’m headed in the right direction and it makes me feel good about what I’ve been doing for the past few years.”
Melvin used a strong back half of the race to separate himself, on his way to what he called the biggest win of his career so far.
“It is a really long race, and it puts a high level of strain on your body,” he said. “You really need to kind of pace yourself ... That strategy has always worked well for me. Obviously, it paid off with a championship.”
Keiran Edwards, 22, who also trains in Newport, finished in fourth place in the men’s lightweight quad at the regatta. Kendall Fearnley, 20, won bronze in the women’s eight-plus. Fearnley now competes for UC Berkeley.
Other local Newport Sea Base racers also have been faring well this summer. Natalia Loram, 17, won three medals at the U.S. Rowing Club Youth Nationals last month in Bethel, Ohio. Loram won gold in the women’s two, silver in the women’s four and another silver in the women’s eight-plus.
Maggie Fellows, an assistant coach at Newport Sea Base, is currently competing in the Pan American Games in Peru. Newport Sea Base rowing director Ian Simpson also is there to coach members of the U.S. national team.
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