Twenty-four nations from across the Americas travelled to the reservoir course close to Valparaiso to decide 18 Olympic qualification places for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Near perfect conditions with light winds and cool weather enabled athletes to race with confidence and push themselves to the limit in a fight for the penultimate chance to race in Brazil.

 Under the qualification system guidelines, all six finalists of both the men’s and women’s singles have qualified for Rio. In both the lightweight men’s and lightweight women’s double sculls, only the top three crews qualified. However, all qualified rowers will now have a nervous 14 day wait. Under the IOC guidelines, the results will still need to be endorsed by each athlete's national Olympic committee before any of the 18 qualified boats can book their flights to Rio.

In the first final of the three day event, the men's single scull, Juan Carlos Cabrera Perez of Mexico was the power performer. The big man led from start to finish and motored over the course in 6:58.9, convincingly ahead of Argentina's Brian Rosso in second (7:01.7) and Steve Hiestand of Brazil in third (7:04.5).

In the women's single scull, course commentator Osvaldo Bortschi had fans from the Caribbean nations dancing as Michelle Pearson from Bermuda couldn’t contain her excitement after she delivered a comprehensive victory to take out the A-final in 7:42 ahead of Fabiana Beltrame of Brazil (7:44.5) and third placed Mexican Kenia Lechuga Alenis (7:46.5). Bermuda has qualified once before in rowing, at the 1972 Olympic Games.

 A light tail wind picked up as the lightweight men's double sculls got underway. Brazil were the victors with a comprehensive display of skill and finesse. Although tight racing is a feature of every lightweight doubles event, Brazilians Xavier Vela Magi and William Giaretton sprinted down the course to win in 6:25.9 ahead of Mexico (6:27.4) and Cuba (6:27.5).

Americas Olympic Qualification Regatta 2016 © FISA

 Having placed fourth in each of the previous three finals, the Chilean spectators were desperate to see a medal in the final race, the lightweight women's double sculls. Local heroines Josefa Vila Betancur and Melita Abraham Schuessler gave themselves a great chance. In a three way battle with Brazil and Cuba they came away with the last Olympic qualification place of the regatta. First placed Brazil were dominant. They finished almost 2.5 seconds ahead of second placed Cuba (7:11.2), the Brazilian double of Vanessa Cozzi and Fernanda Leal Ferreira raced over the course in 7:08.9. Chile were third in 7:12.2

 COPARE (Pan American Rowing Confederation) President Fernando Ucha was delighted to see so many athletes in Valparaiso signalling that the Americas are on the rise as a world rowing power. "We are moving” he noted. "We are far more coordinated now as a continent. That promises to continue as we look to further develop rowing in the Americas."

FISA President Jean-Christophe Roland paid tribute to the Chilean organising committee and local authorities and all volunteers at the conclusion of the Olympic Qualification event. Likewise, the development of women’s rowing and of new nations in the Americas has shown that FISA’s efforts to position itself in line with the IOC’s 2020 agenda, is well on track.

Compared to the 2012 Americas qualification regatta, this year's event showed a positive change. The number of countries competing in 2016 was an increase of eight. This corresponds to a 50 per cent increase and a 27 rower increase. The biggest rise was among women with a 64 per cent increase in participation.

Full results can be found: http://www.results.imas-sport.com/imas/regatta.php?competition=wettkampf_160

Medal Table

 

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Men's single scull

MEX

ARG

BRA

Women's single scull

BER

BRA

MEX

Lightweight men's double sculls

BRA

MEX

CUB

Lightweight women's double sculls

BRA

CUB

CHI