Rowing and the Olympics

Rowing has always been a part of the Olympic Games for years and was part of the sports in the program for the summer Olympics of 1900. Although the game was on the program for the 1896 edition, it did not take place due to the bad weather conditions. Initially, women were not allowed to compete until the 1976 edition when the women event became part of the program in summer Olympics and then they were able to compete and participate. The Olympics permitted national board federations the incentives to motivate the participation of women in the sport and thus encouraged the development of women’s rowing.

In 1996, lightweight rowing events came onboard the Olympics games. The International Rowing Federation was directly responsible for the qualification of teams for the rowing events. The FISA (French acronym for the rowing federation) became the  the first international sports federation to link up with the modern Olympic movement. In 2002, the lightweight events came under serious threat when program commission of the IOC suggested that apart from combat sports (wrestling and boxing) and weightlifting, lightweight games for other sports should stop. However, this recommendation was rejected by the Executive Board, and lightweight events for rowing continued.

In other to comply with the IOC quest for gender equality, it is possible that from the next edition of Olympics (2020), the men’s lightweight fours will no longer be available while the women’s coxless fours will be available. The IOC has accepted this proposal in June 2017. During the first games of rowing in Olympics, several other categories like the junior, Novice, Intermediate, and Expert all introduced. This was made possible in other to accommodate all level of preparation.

However, things have changed, and all races are carried out on over 2000, course. This wasn’t the standard until the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. Before this edition, competitions were carried out over various distances (1750m in Paris 1900, 3218m in St.Louis 1904, and 1850m in London 1948 and 2412 in London 1908). The editions in London happened over the Henley Regatta course. The number of crew permitted to race is always limited pre-qualification events are organized by the International Rowing Federation to determine who competes at the main Olympic games. At the games, each National Olympic Committee will only have one boat for every new event.


The primary qualification for the Olympic events comes from the previous years’ World Rowing Championship.Other qualifying events are also known as the “Continental Qualification Regattas” are held before the primary Olympic year and can happen for about four times in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the final event. The FISA issues the details of the event and qualification requirements.During the world championship, the top finishing boats secure a spot in the next Olympic events and the crew members can be changed before the Olympic Games. However, at the qualification regattas, the crew that wins qualifies for the Olympic, and the members of the crew cannot change for the major event.