Para-rowers to watch at the Rio Paralympics
In its third time as a Paralympic sport, para-rowing has been growing in competitiveness exponentially. Leading up to this year's Paralympic Games the tightness of racing has become evident and World Best Times continue to fall. The Rio 2016 Paralympic para-rowing regatta goes from 9-11 September 2016 on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Para Women's Single Sculls (ASW1x)
A relatively new sculler may be the one to reign in Rio. Rachel Morris of Great Britain came into para-rowing just a couple of seasons ago and at last year's World Rowing Championships she took silver. Then at World Rowing Cup III in June, Morris not only won her race, but also set a new World Best Time. This pushed the 2015 World Champion, Moran Samuel of Israel into third. Samuel though, is a formidable rower and will no doubt use her experience to make the best in Rio. Also in the mix will be Birgit Skarstein of Norway. Skarstein is the 2014 World Champion and she goes to Rio as the silver medallist from World Rowing Cup III. Keep an eye out too for Brazil's Claudia Santos. She has competed in the A-final at both the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games.
Para Men's Single Sculls (ASM1x)
This boat class saw Ukraine take first and second at World Rowing Cup III in Poznan. Bondar was first, but it is Roman Polianskyi that will compete in Rio. Polianskyi will be up against the reigning World Champion, Erik Horrie of Australia. Horrie has Paralympic experience from London 2012 where he finished second.
Watch out too for the very experienced Tom Aggar of Great Britain. Aggar is the Paralympic Champion from 2008, but missing out on the medals in 2012 means that Aggar is back wanting more. Also back after a break from international racing is the reigning Paralympic Champion, Cheng Huang.
Para Mixed Double Sculls (TAMix2x)
Australia's Gavin Bellis and Kathryn Ross are the reigning World Champions and they have a partnership that goes back to 2012 and an A-final finish at the London Paralympics. Bellis and Ross, however, will be up against stiff competition from the French. Perle Bouge and Stephane Tardieu of France came together six years ago and they won silver at the 2012 Paralympics. More recently Bouge and Tardieu have been chasing the Australians, but at World Rowing Cup III this season, Bouge and Tardieu struck gold. It is hard to guess who will be the top boat in Rio. Keep an eye out too for Brazil's Josiane Lima and Michel Gomes Pessanha as well as the Dutch.
Para Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+)
It will be hard to look past Great Britain. They are the reigning Paralympic Champions and have also won the last four World Championship titles. Illness, however, meant that they did not get to race at World Rowing Cup III. Mainstay in the boat has been the unbeaten Pamela Relph. Rio will be her second Paralympic Games.
In the absence of Great Britain, Canada won at World Rowing Cup III and will go to Rio with boosted confidence. Strong medal contenders are also Italy, South Africa and potentially the United States.