Rowing

Facts

Discipline of Rowing
Participants 7523
NOCs 101
Competitions held 254 (Venues)
Distinct events 35
IF Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron

Description

Rowing was first known as a means of transportation in the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Rowing as a sport probably began in England in the 17th and early 18th centuries. By the 19th century, rowing was popular in Europe and had been brought to America. Early races were usually contested by professionals, with heavy betting on races common. Competitive rowing precedes most of the other Olympic sports in its recorded modern history. The first Oxford-Cambridge race took place in 1828 and Yale and Harvard first rowed against each other in 1852. The sport was also the first to form an international governing body, in 1892.

Only in 1896 has rowing not been contested in the Olympics. It was actually on the program that year but rough seas forced cancellation of the events. There have been several events for men in both sweep events (single oar used by alternate oarsmen) and sculling events (two oars used by a single sculler or by two or more scullers). Through 1992, these included races for single, double, and quadruple sculls, and in sweep events, races for two and four oarsmen/women, with and without coxswain, and the large boats with eight oarsmen/women and a coxswain. Women were admitted to the Olympic rowing program in 1976. They compete in a streamlined program, with only one sweep event for four oarswomen, but they also compete in single, double, and quad sculls, and the eight-oar sweep event. The rowing program for the 1996 Olympics underwent a drastic change, with the introduction of lightweight events. The men’s coxed pairs and coxed fours was discontinued, replaced by the lightweight double sculls, and lightweight coxless fours. The women’s coxless pairs was also discontinued, replaced by lightweight double sculls.

The United States was the dominant nation in Olympic rowing until about 1960. The Soviet Union quickly became a power in the sport, but during its existence the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the 1970s and 1980s was by far the preeminent nation. The top list of Olympic rowers, however, mainly consists of British and Romanian competitors. Three have won five gold medals: Elisabeta Oleniuc-Lipă, Steven Redgrave, Georgeta Damian-Andrunache.

The world governing body of rowing is the Fédération internationale des sociétés d’aviron (FISA), which was formed on 25 June 1892 in Torino, with five founding members: Adriatica (rowing clubs from Trieste, which belonged to Austria at that time, but they did not want to represent Austria), Belgium, France, Italy, and Switzerland. As of 2018 the FISA has 153 member nations.

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 33 32 24 89
East Germany GDR 33 7 8 48
Great Britain GBR 31 24 13 68
Germany GER 27 18 15 60
Romania ROU 19 10 9 38
Soviet Union URS 12 20 10 42
Australia AUS 11 15 14 40
New Zealand NZL 11 3 10 24
Italy ITA 10 14 14 38
Canada CAN 9 17 15 41
France FRA 7 14 13 34
Switzerland SUI 7 8 9 24
Denmark DEN 7 5 12 24
Netherlands NED 6 12 12 30
West Germany FRG 4 4 6 14
Poland POL 4 3 11 18
Norway NOR 3 6 8 17
Bulgaria BUL 3 4 7 14
Finland FIN 3 1 3 7
Czechoslovakia TCH 2 2 7 11
Belarus BLR 2 1 4 7
People's Republic of China CHN 1 4 4 9
Croatia CRO 1 3 1 5
Czech Republic CZE 1 3 1 5
Slovenia SLO 1 1 3 5
Yugoslavia YUG 1 1 3 5
Argentina ARG 1 1 2 4
South Africa RSA 1 1 1 3
Ukraine UKR 1 1 1 3
Russian Federation RUS 1 0 3 4
Mixed team MIX 1 0 0 1
Belgium BEL 0 6 2 8
Austria AUT 0 3 2 5
Estonia EST 0 2 1 3
Sweden SWE 0 2 0 2
Uruguay URU 0 1 3 4
Greece GRE 0 1 2 3
Hungary HUN 0 1 2 3
Lithuania LTU 0 1 2 3
Ireland IRL 0 1 0 1
Spain ESP 0 1 0 1
Unified Team EUN 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Elisabeta Oleniuc-Lipă ROU 5 2 1 8
Steven Redgrave GBR 5 0 1 6
Georgeta Damian-Andrunache ROU 5 0 1 6
Doina Ignat ROU 4 1 1 6
Kathrin Boron GER 4 0 1 5
Viorica Susanu ROU 4 0 1 5
Matthew Pinsent GBR 4 0 0 4
Jack Beresford GBR 3 2 0 5
Constanța Pipotă-Burcică ROU 3 1 1 5
Elena Georgescu ROU 3 1 1 5

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Single Sculls Men 28
Double Sculls Men 24
Coxless Pairs Men 24
Quadruple Sculls Men 11
Coxless Fours Men 24
Coxed Eights Men 27
Lightweight Double Sculls Men 6
Lightweight Coxless Fours Men 6
Single Sculls Women 11
Double Sculls Women 11
Coxless Pairs Women 11
Quadruple Sculls Women 8
Coxed Eights Women 11
Lightweight Double Sculls Women 6
Single Sculls Boys 2
Coxless Pairs Boys 2
Single Sculls Girls 2
Coxless Pairs Girls 2
Coxed Pairs (1 kilometres) Men 1
Coxed Pairs (1 mile) Men 1
Coxed Pairs Men 18
Coxed Fours Men 20
Coxed Fours, Outriggers Men 1
Coxed Fours, Inriggers Men 1
6-Man Naval Rowing Boats Men 1
17-Man Naval Rowing Boats Men 1
Single Sculls, Intermediate Men 1
Single Sculls, Association Men 1
Double Sculls, Intermediate Men 1
Coxless Pairs, Intermediate Men 1
Coxless Fours, Intermediate Men 1
Coxed Eights, Intermediate Men 1
Coxless Fours Women 1
Coxed Fours Women 4
Coxed Quadruple Sculls Women 3