Sand, sea, coastal rowing and the African Beach Games
Coastal rowing beach sprints were included in the first-ever African Beach Games on the Cape Verde Islands. Ten nations participated in the three boat classes: men’s solo, women’s solo and mixed double sculls.
Algeria topped the medals table, winning two golds and one silver medal. These gold medals came in the men’s solo and the mixed double sculls. Tunisia won gold in the women’s solo, putting them second on the medals table. Nigeria took the third spot on the medal table after winning one silver and two bronze medals.
The beach sprints were organised with a series of dual races. On the first day, crews competed in a placement round. From that point, the crews were seeded into match races for dual races. The winners of the dual races progressed on to the next round until there were only two boats left to race the final.
In the men’s solo, Algeria’s Habiche Oussama took gold ahead of Tunisia’s Mohamed Mansouri with a solid ten second lead in the final. In the women’s solo Tunisia’s Sarah Zammali had an even more impressive 20 second lead ahead of Algeria’s Amina Rouba. But when Oussama and Rouba teamed up, they managed a ten second win in the mixed double sculls ahead of Nigeria’s Micheall Moses and Esther Toko.
Algeria, Tunisia and Nigeria claimed all the medal spots.
Beach Sprints are a relatively new discipline and World Rowing’s Development Manager Daniela Gomes noted; “We were fortunate, due to support from Olympic Solidarity and the respective National Olympic Committees, to have a training camp in Malawi prior to the Beach Games and also run two educational workshops prior to the event in Cape Verde, one for officials and one for coaches and athletes. This really helped the participants connect with the new discipline.”
The rowing competition took place on the beautiful beaches of Sal Island. Sal is one of the ten islands of the Cape Verde archipelago, located due west of Senegal. It was a part of the inaugural African Beach Games which included 11 beach sports. More than 1000 athletes from 31 nations took part in the Games.
The coastal rowing equipment will now be donated to the National Federation and moved to the capital of Cape Verde, Praia to support further development of clubs and associations on several of the islands, Sal included. The federation is currently looking to reactivate rowing in the country. Coastal rowing boats are the perfect solution for these coast-filled islands.