About 1,700 rowers competed either virtually or in-person at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Toronto ©World Rowing

Germany’s Oliver Zeidler overcame two-time defending champion Ward Lemmelijn of Belgium to clinch men’s 2,000 metres gold at the World Rowing Indoor Championships.

Lemmelijn was seeking a third successive title but Zeidler, the reigning world champion in the men’s single sculls, proved too strong.

The German secured victory in 5min 37.3sec as he won the title for the second time having previously triumphed in 2019.

Lemmelijn came second in 5:39.7 as 2018 winner Jakub Podrazil of the Czech Republic placed third in 5:42.6.

They were among 1,700 athletes that were competing either virtually or in-person at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Toronto, Canada.

Sydney Payne and Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, who were part of the Canadian eight that won Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020, were roared on by the home crowd as they went up against Ukrainian Olena Buryak in the women’s 2,000m event.

Competing virtually from Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Buryak powered to victory on the indoor rowing machine, registering a time of 6:39.9 to win the title for the fourth time.

Gruchalla-Wesierski had to settle for silver in 6:43.2, while Payne bagged bronze in 6:52.6.

Buryak, a two-time Olympian, also won the women’s 500m crown in 1:27.5, beating France’s Sonja Peltola and Ireland’s Clara Hogan who posted 1:29.7 and 1:32.0 respectively to take the other two podium spots.

Britain’s Phil Clapp maintained his stranglehold on the men’s 500m title, winning it for the fourth time on the spin after holding off a late surge from Canada’s Cameron Wharram.

Clapp clocked 1:11.2 for gold, beating Wharram by just 0.1, while Matt Snare of the United States finished in 1:15.6 for bronze.

The first-ever World Rowing Versa Challenge was also contested as 10 men and 10 women raced in five different events over two days to battle it out for the title.

Joel Naukkarinen of Finland and Elizabeth Gilmore of the US were crowned champions.

The oldest competitor at the World Rowing Indoor Championships was Britain’s 95-year-old Valerie Coleman, who posted a time of 2:54.7 to place fourth in the women’s over-70 500m race.