Rowing originally served as a means of transport in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, but it was only in England between the end of the 17th and start of the 18th centuries that it became a sport. The first major rowing competition was the country’s famous Oxford-Cambridge university boat race, which began in 1828.
Brief overview of the rules
Rowing involves propelling a boat using oars fixed to the vessel. It differs from other disciplines in that rowers sit with their backs to the direction of movement, therefore crossing the finish line backwards.
Rowers compete individually or in teams. At competitions, rowing is classified into two different events: sculling and sweep. In sweep events rowers hold a single oar with both hands, while in sculling they hold one oar in each hand. The eight-person crews have a coxswain, who steers the boat and directs the crew. In all other boats one rower steers by controlling a small rudder with a foot pedal. There is a lightweight event as well as different events for teams of between one and eight people. Women’s events were introduced at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
Rowing events have been staged at every Games since the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1896 (men’s events) – although because the competition was scheduled to take place at sea, it had to be cancelled that year due to bad weather.
The USA initially dominated Olympic rowing, before the Soviet Union and Germany came to the forefront. However, it is a British athlete, Sir Steve Redgrave, who is widely hailed as the greatest rower of all time, winning gold medals at five Olympic Games.
International federation : World Rowing
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