At the 2015 World Rowing Junior Championships which took place at the venue for the Rio 2016 Olympic rowing regatta, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in the heart of Rio, Brazil, five nations from the Americas took part in the regatta for the first time. They formed a list of 15 competing countries from this part of the world including Bahamas, Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela and regular competitors on the international stage, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile.

Chile scored medal success in the junior women's pair with Melita and Antonia Abraham earning silver. Mexico earned their highest ranking ever at a junior championships with junior men's single sculls Alexis Lopez Garcia finishing fourth.

Last month the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games proved to be a perfect opportunity for the international development of these new rowing nations.

Thirty-four athletes and coaches from six nations (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru and Guatemala) took part in a unique training camp that was principally funded through a grant from the Toronto 2015 Pan American organisers.

The camp, that took place at Rowing Canada’s National Training Centre in London, Ontario from 26 June to 5 July, was a joint initiative of the International Rowing Federation (FISA) and Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA).

“The purpose,” said Osvaldo Borchi, FISA’s Development Consultant for South and Central America, “was to support the preparation of the Latin American teams, who participated in the Pan American Games.”

“Training in the weeks leading up to the games allowed them to adapt to the time zone, rowing on an Albano System course, side-by-side training, local weather, wind and waves and the new racing boats they would race in at the Games.”

The crews also had access to technical and tactical direction from their own national coaches and two FISA international development coaches. “All objectives were met perfectly,” says Borchi.

“The FISA development programme believes that the regional and continental events such as the Pan Am Games are of massive importance for the nations taking part in the training camp,” said Sheila Stephens Desbans, FISA Development Manager.

“The preparations allowed for these teams gives them a better chance of performing at a competitive level and it may not be something they have been able to access in other situations.”

“Participation in the camp was very important both for athletes and coaches. Team training workouts were very challenging and well run with very good organisation.” Borchi points to the opportunity to participate in a joint training session with the Canadian crews as a highlight of the camp’s activities. Many new lessons were learned that athletes and coaches will take home for continued development.

The most important aspect of the camp, according to Borchi was, “the conviviality and teamwork among all countries.” Coaches and athletes from the visiting national teams as well as their Canadian hosts found time and space to share the water and work towards the same goal: rowing faster.

“We hope this can be a model for future regional activities,” said Stephens Desbans, “as we are already delivering annual training camps related to the Youth Olympic Games and Olympic Games preparations on the continent.

Teams will now return home to prepare for possible qualification in the Rio 2016 Olympics, where many hope to represent their country in a Games that is for the first time close to home.