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.
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.
For Rio 2016, rowing will feature on the programme of the Paralympic Games for the third time in history.
On Lake Aiguebelette at the World Rowing Championships in France a few weeks ago, para-rowers were aiming for a top eight finish in each of the four Paralympic boat classes to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games. This was no easy task, considering the record number of entries in para-rowing at these championships.
Seventy boats overall entered in the four events on the Paralympic programme in Aiguebelette: 15 in the para women’s single sculls, 24 in the para men’s single sculls, 14 in the para mixed double sculls and 17 in the para mixed coxed four. Compared to previous Paralympic qualification years, there were 62 boats that lined up at the 2007 World Rowing Championships and 57 at the 2011 World Rowing Championships.
In addition to the 32 boats that have secured their spot for Rio at the 2015 World Rowing Championships, a further two boats will have a chance to qualify in each category at the 2016 Paralympic Qualification Regatta in April 2016.
Not only is Great Britain the nation that qualified the most boats (12) for the 2016 Olympic Rowing Regatta so far, it also qualified the most boats overall at the Paralympic level. All four para-rowing boat classes will see a British boat line up in Rio. This is a step up from 2011, when Great Britain qualified three Paralympic boats and went on to win one Paralympic medal, gold, in the para mixed coxed four. Great Britain now also has an accomplished para-athlete in the para women’s single sculls: Rachel Morris has been racing internationally since 2014 and won a silver medal at the World Rowing Championships two years running.
Four nations have qualified three boats each: Brazil, Italy, Ukraine and the United States. For both Brazil and Italy, this is a big leap from 2011 when they qualified one boat only. As the host nation of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, qualification in the para-rowing boat classes is especially encouraging for Brazil, as they are still hoping to qualify at the Olympic level.
In Rio, Norway and South Africa will be represented at a Paralympic Rowing Regatta for the very first time. Norway qualified in the para women’s single sculls thanks to Birgit Skarstein, their new para-rowing star. She made her international rowing debut in 2013 and has since won one World Championship silver medal (2013), one World Championship title (2014) and a bronze (2015). South Africa, placing fifth at the World Rowing Championships, will be sending a para mixed coxed four to the Paralympics.
After missing out on the 2012 Paralympic Games, the Netherlands are back in the game with two boats, thanks to a fifth-place finish in the para mixed double sculls and a sixth-place finish in the para men’s single sculls.
Noticeably absent from the qualification list is China. They topped the medals table at the London 2012 Paralympic Games with two gold medals, one in the para men’s single sculls and the other in the para mixed double sculls. Also of note is the absence of a Paralympic boat from New Zealand – amongst the five nations with the highest number of Olympic qualified boats, New Zealand is the only one that has yet to also qualify a boat for the 2016 Paralympic Games.
So far, 16 nations have qualified in para-rowing for Rio. At the 2011 World Rowing Championships, 19 nations qualified for the 2012 Paralympics, with a total of 23 nations then going on to be represented in para-rowing in London. The Paralympic Qualification Regatta in April 2016 will provide additional nations with the opportunity to compete in Rio. Bipartite invitation slots will also be allocated prior to the 2016 Paralympic Games.
To view the Olympic and Paralympic qualification tables to date, click here.
To view the Paralympic qualification document, click here.