Manatee-Sarasota rowing champ bid under review

skennedy@bradenton.comApril 16, 2013 

SARASOTA -- International rowing officials Tuesday toured Nathan Benderson Park, which is the centerpiece of a bid to land the 2017 World Rowing Championship.

The team visiting Sarasota County conducted a site inspection of park facilities under construction and sat down with local officials to evaluate the area's preliminary bid to stage the event.

The four-person team representing the International Federation of Rowing Associations included: Executive Director Matt Smith of the United States; events director Svetla Otzetova of Bulgaria; Andrew Couper, marketing director of Great Britain; and events manager Colleen Orsmond of South Africa.

The team toured the park, near the intersection of Interstate 75 and University Parkway, along with other parts of both counties as part of a packed schedule Tuesday.

Team members also attended a joint session of the Sarasota and Manatee county commissions in Sarasota, where proclamations were read in their honor.

Smith said team members were "really impressed" with what they had seen.

Asked about security concerns

in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, Smith said: "We do eight international events a year, and since Sept. 11, 2001, we've constantly been facing challenges of the sort, and we react each time -- and we're not concerned."

Smith is the second-longest serving executive director of an international federation in the Olympic movement; Otzetova is an Olympic champion, world champion and chief architect for every regatta course since 1992; Couper is an international sports marketing expert; and Orsmond is a three-time Olympian, according to Smith.

Sarasota and Manatee counties, along with a nonprofit organization and the Benderson Development Co., last winter submitted a preliminary bid to stage the rowing championship in fall 2017. The public-private partnership represents the United States in its quest for the event, and is competing against Bulgaria, officials said.

With representatives of 130 countries voting, the 2017 championships will be awarded in September during a meeting in Chungju, South Korea.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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