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How does the sport of Rowing work in the Summer Olympics?

ByScotty Jenkins

3 min read

How does the sport of Rowing work in the Summer Olympics?

One of the oldest Olympics sports is Rowing. It is a sport that tests the level of endurance and teamwork spirit that a player has.

In 1896, Rowing became an Olympic sport. Although the first competition that was held in Athens was canceled due to rough seas in Piraeus Harbour. Rowing is governed by the World Rowing Federation (FISA).

In Olympic Rowing, the number of crews that can race is quite limited that is why the International Rowing Federation holds qualification events so they can choose the number of crews that can compete at the Olympic Games. At the Olympic Games, every National Olympic Committee is allowed to only have one boat for each event. FISA always provides information about the number of crews that qualify every year.

During the qualification regattas, any crew that emerges as the winner will qualify for the Olympics, and if the members of that crew race in the Olympics they must race in that event.

There are different divisions in the Olympics Rowing. Let's discuss them below.


Divisions in Olympic Rowing

The sport of Rowing in the Olympics has two divisions. They are the lightweight and heavyweight divisions. It was during the 1996 Atlanta Games that the Olympic Rowing program introduced the lightweight event categories. The weight limits differ for women and men. Individual women are not expected to weigh over 59kg and the average crew weight must not be above 57kg. While individual men must not weigh more than 72.5kg and the average crew weight must not be above 70kg.


Since you now know that there are two divisions in the Olympics Rowing, we will talk about the length of the races in Olympics Rowing here:

Olympic Rowing Races

All Olympics Rowing races are over 2,000 meters. Although women's races used to be over 1,000 meters in 1988, they were changed to 2,000 meters.

Formerly, the Rowing games used to feature match races between 2 or 3 boats, but things have changed, they now follow a six-boat side-by-side format, and this format was first adopted at the 1936 Olympic Games.


Current Olympic Event Format

The Olympics Rowing races are divided into sweep oar and sculling. Currently, both men and women compete in six events.

The six events include the single, double, and quadruple sculls, lightweight double scull, the eight and the coxless pair. But men are allowed to race in two other events, the coxless four and lightweight coxless four.


What an Olympic Rowing race consists of?

All boats are made to move in the heat. The best finishers then move into the semi-finals or a six-boat final. The other boats are given a second chance to race, the best finishers also get to qualify for the semi-boat final. How the semi-finals will go is highly dependent on the number of boats that initially entered each event.


There are different positions that people occupy in Olympics Rowing, you will find more about it below:

Positions in Olympic Rowing

The Olympics Rowing races have two major positions and they are, Rower and Coxswain.

What is a Coxswain?

While the rowers put in the effort to push the boat forward, the Coxswains handle the calling out of the stroke rhythm and the steering of the boat. It is the resilience and perseverance of the rowers that ascertain the boat's speed during a race.

Coxswains are not permitted to row a boat, all they need to do is to keep steering the ship so they can create a rhythm that the rowers can use to push the boat forward. Coxswains usually occupy the stem (back) or the bow (front) of the boat. Big boats like "eights" often use Coxswains.


What is Sculling?


During sculling, every rower is given two oars that he is supposed to be pulling with only one arm. You won't find Coxswains in sculling events. During the Olympics Rowing, there are one, two, and four sculls, each with one, two, and four rowers per boat, simultaneously.


Olympic Rowing is one exciting sport that you should look out for in the next Olympics. We are sure you now understand how the Olympics Rowing works, the different races it has, and its divisions as well.

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