Australia and Olympic Rowing
Australia first sent rowers to the Olympics at Stockholm in 1912. The eight who had won the Henley Regatta en route to Sweden. A change of personnel between Henley and Stockholm resulted in the crew losing some form and it missed a medal, whilst the British crew that they defeated at Henley won the gold.
Australia has forged a very proud history in Olympic rowing, particular in the sculling events. The legendary Henry ‘Bobby’ Pearce won the single sculls in Amsterdam 1928 and Los Angeles 1932. Mervyn Wood won the single sculls in London in 1948 and finished second at Helsinki four years later.
At the Melbourne 1956 Games, Wood and Murray Riley won the bronze medal in the double sculls. Wood is the only person to carry the Australian flag at two opening ceremonies, in Helsinki and Melbourne. In Melbourne Stuart Mackenzie finished second in the single sculls behind the great Vyacheslav Ivanov of the USSR. Mackenzie then proceeded to win the Diamond Sculls at Henley, arguably the unofficial world championship at the time, for six consecutive years from 1957.
Rowing was scheduled to appear in Athens in 1896 but bad weather caused its cancellation. It made its Olympic debut in Paris 1900. The seating configurations of the boats in the Olympic regatta have changed a number of times since then.
Women’s rowing was introduced at the Olympic at Montreal 1976 and lightweight rowing, for men and women, was introduced in Atlanta 1996.
In Olympic rowing 14 different boat classes are raced. Eight sculling events in which two oars are used, one in each hand and six sweep-oared events in which the rower uses one oar with both hands. The sculling boat classes are the single, the double and the quadruple sculls with crews of one, two or four athletes respectively, as well as the lightweight double. The sweep rowing categories include the pair, the four, the lightweight four (for men only) and the eight with coxswain, which is perhaps the most spectacular rowing event of all.
For the lightweight events (the lightweight women’s double and the lightweight men’s double and four) the average weight of a men’s crew must not exceed 70kg with the maximum weight for crew members being 72.5kg, for women the average weight of a crew must not exceed 57kg with the maximum weight for crew members being 59kg. All races cover a distance of 2000 metres.