2016 Olympic qualification trends and expectations
Athletes were racing for more than just a medal at the 2015 World Rowing Championships. On the waters of Lake Aiguebelette, France, they were racing to qualify their boat for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
By the end of the championships, 77 male boats and 52 female boats had secured a spot for next year’s Olympic Rowing Regatta.
An overall total of 215 boats (121 male, 94 female) and 550 rowing athletes (331 male, 219 female) will line up at next year’s pinnacle rowing regatta – the Olympic Games. While many of those boats qualified at last week’s World Rowing Championships, continental qualification regattas will be held in Asia/Oceania, in Africa, in the Americas and in Europe throughout the coming months with a Final Olympic Qualification Regatta then being held in May 2016, to fill in the remaining qualification spots.
At London 2012, a total of 60 nations competed, with 33 of those nations having qualified at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. Four years later in Aiguebelette, 32 nations secured their spots for Rio 2016.
The most challenging boat class in terms of Olympic qualification in Aiguebelette was possibly the men’s single sculls. With 41 entries, only the nine top boats obtained a qualification spot for Rio. By finishing fourth overall, Olaf Tufte of Norway the two-time Olympic Champion and a one-time Olympic silver medallist, will be heading to his sixth Olympic Games at age 40.
Great Britain qualified the most boats so far, securing 12 of a possible 14 boat classes. The United States followed with ten boats qualified, while Germany and New Zealand both qualified nine boats.
At this year’s World Rowing Championships, two nations that had not managed to qualify for the London 2012 Games are now guaranteed to race in Rio: Austria and Bulgaria. So far, Austria has qualified two boats (in the lightweight men’s double sculls and women’s single sculls), while Bulgaria qualified one (in the men’s double sculls).
This year’s host nation of the World Rowing Championships, France, did exceptionally well. They qualified twice as many boats in Aiguebelette than at the same time four years ago. France has six boats now qualified. Other nations who doubled their qualification numbers this year compared to the 2011 World Rowing Championships include Belarus, South Africa, Russia and Switzerland. They all qualified four boats compared to two.
Other nations who made a jump in the number of Olympic qualification spots this year compared to the results obtained at the 2011 World Rowing Championships include Lithuania (five compared to three), the Netherlands and Poland (six compared to four).
The United States is gearing towards representing perhaps the strongest female contingent at next year’s Rio Olympic Games, having qualified boats in each of the six Olympic female boat classes. Other nations with a strong female squad include Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand and Canada who each qualified in four Olympic female boat classes. Sweden, who secured one Olympic qualification spot in Aiguebelette did so in the women’s single sculls, with Anna Malvina Svennung finishing seventh overall in the women’s single sculls.
Two nations so far have qualified boats in all three Olympic lightweight categories for Rio: the United States and Great Britain.
Next up is the African Continental Qualification Regatta to take place in Tunis, Tunisia, from 5 to 7 October 2015.
World Rowing will publish an article about Paralympic Qualification shortly – stay tuned!
To view the Olympic boat classes qualified to date at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, please click here.
To view the overall Olympic Qualification document, please click here.