Monday, March 14, 2016

Understanding Rowing at the Summer Olympics

History of Rowing at the Summer Olympics

Rowing is a competitive sport which has featured in the Summer Olympics since the 1900 Summer Olympics held in Paris, France. As a matter of fact this was the second edition of the Olympics and this means that it only missed the first edition of the games that were held in Athens in 1896. Rowing could have been part of the sports featuring in the 1896 Olympics; however there was some bad weather and it had to be cancelled. This means that it has been part of the Summer Olympics schedule since the games inception, making it one of Summer Olympics pioneer sports. Until the 1976 Summer Olympics held in the Canadian City of Montreal, Quebec only men were participated. The Canadian edition of the Games of the XXI Olympiad, saw the women first participated in rowing. Rowing events were held at the Olympic Basin, Île Notre-Dame ; the venue for both canoeing and rowing for men and women.

Summer Olympics Rowing Events discontinuation

Over the years many rowing events have been axed of by the International Olympics Council. Below are the rowing events which have been removed from the Summer Olympics schedule. The Men events which no longer feature are the coxed pair and the coxed four which featured prominently in the early years have debuted in the 1900 games but has not featured since 1992, other men events that have not been spared are the coxed four with Inriggers which featured only in one edition; the Stockholm’s 1912 Summer Olympics edition, 6 men and 17 men naval rowing boats only featured in the 1906 games. The 1906 games are not even recognized by the International Olympics Council (IOC) as have been part of the Olympics. The women rowing events have not been spared either. Three women rowing events that have been axed are the coxed four which first debuted in the 1976 Olympics games and axed in 1988 and the coxed quadruple sculls that debuted in Montreal games of 1976 and axed in the Los Angeles’ 1984 Olympics games. Also removed is the coxless fours for women that only featured in the 1992 summer Olympics.

Besides events removal, there have been several changes in the rowing sport since the Summer Olympics of 1900 in Paris. Some these changes include the distance covered by rowers among other key changes that the world has witnessed in this heart throbbing sport. In the early editions, there lacked standardized distance among different Olympics editions but this has been addressed. A case in mind is the 1900 edition held in France. In this Paris Summer Olympics, the competitors rowed for one and three quarter kilometers (1750 meters), which is the only time such a distance was covered.

Then in the 1904 edition in St Louis and the distance almost doubled to over three kilometers. The rowers in the 1904 Summer Olympics rowers actually competed for 3218 meters. This was different in the next Olympics hosted by London in 1908; the distance was again reduced to almost two and half kilometers; 2412 meters to be precise.

The distance covered in today’s Summer Olympics editions are 2 kilometers. This will be evident in Rio 2016. The 2 kilometers was adopted in the 1912 Summer Olympics but was overlooked in the subsequent editions with a good example being the 1948 edition in London, where the distance was below 2 kilometers; it was actually 1850 meters.

When women events were introduced in the 1976 edition of the Olympics, they rowed for one kilometer and this would continue for four editions until the Seoul’s 1988 Summer Olympics when the distance was doubled to 2 kilometers.

Another change is the number of boats per race. From 1900 Summer Olympics to the 1948 Summer Olympics, races were limited to either two or three boats per race. In the 1952 Helsinki games the number increased to either four or five boats and this give way to the modern format of six boats per race that was first adopted in the Berlin Summer Olympics of 1936 but became a standard in the Australia Melbourne 1956 Summer Olympics and the world has never looked back, this is the format that we will witness in the Rio Summer Olympics rowing sport.

How nations qualify in the Summer Olympics The International Rowing Federation, FISA has set the standards for the rowing qualification both in the Olympics and other championships. For most of the championships including the Olympics, qualifications, competitions are carried out in all the continents and regions competitions known as the Continental Qualification Regattas.

Four of these Regattas usually take place a year before the Olympics representing four continents as follows: There is a Qualification Regattas for Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the fourth one is open to people from all over the world. Besides, FISA regulate the number of rowers per participating nations with a limit of one boat per rowing event.

For Olympics, the last year (2015) World Rowing Championships ranking is used to determine the qualifying teams. With qualifications from Regattas and the last year World Rowing Championships, FISA provide the qualified nations with the quota of participants per team with each of the winning team assured of a place in the Olympics. In the World Rowing Championships, it’s the country which qualifies but not the rowers, the selection of the rowers is left to local National Olympics Council (NOC). However if qualification is from the Regattas, it the whole team and the boat that qualifies and no change can be made except for extreme circumstances like death, illness and other unavoidable circumstances.

Most successful teams in the Summer Olympics Rowing Sports

Most of the successful nations in the Olympics rowing are from Europe with a few exceptions of some few “outsiders”. The most successful nation in the Summer Olympics Rowing sport is Germany but it’s not as we know it today, this is because as a country, Germany has undergone several political and boundary changes.

Former East Germany is the most successful nation with 33 gold medals, followed by Team USA with 32 gold medals and Team GB is third with 28 gold medals. Team Germany is ranked fourth with 21 gold medals while former West Germany and the unified Germany team have also accumulated 4 gold medals each. By adding all the medals for the different Germany teams, it’s therefore true to say that Team Germany has accumulated 62 gold medals in total making it the most successful team in Summer Olympics rowing sport.

The rowing sport is part of the events taking place in Rio 2016 Summer Olympics; this time we will know which teams will take home the 42 rowing medals in offing from the 6th to the 13th of August. Make a date and watch this exciting sport which have been part of the Olympics since the Games of the II Olympiad, held in Paris France in 1900.