The Festival was first held a year after the very successful Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. It came about as an opportunity for youth to experience a taste of the Olympics and to also act as a legacy of the Sydney Games making for further utilisation of the Olympic venues.

149789776_10
Kim Crow took part in the first Youth Olympic Games in 2001 (in athletics) and is now a double-Olympic medallist in rowing from the 2012 Olympic Games

The rowing regatta is thus being held at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith. Penrith is just outside of Sydney and will also be the same venue which will host the first Samsung World Rowing Cup of the 2013 regatta season in March.

Youth aged 13 to 19 years old are eligible to participate in the Festival with over 1,700 athletes from 30 countries taking part in 17 sports. There are 182 athletes coming from Great Britain, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Australia to compete in rowing. The Australian team is divided into its seven states thus making a total of 10 teams competing.

Each rowing team is allowed a maximum of 18 athletes (nine male and nine female) and racing will be held in the men’s and women’s single sculls, quadruple sculls, pair, coxless four, eight and lightweight double. Many of the athletes will be racing in multiple events.

This is the sixth edition of the Festival and it has seen many current international athletes taking part in the past. Kim Crow is one who cut her teeth at the inaugural Youth Olympic Festival in 2001. Crow described the 2001 event as still having much of the feel of the Sydney Olympics and explains that when she later competed at international events she felt at ease as she already knew what it was like to compete at a big event. After changing from athletics to rowing (due to injury), Crow competed at the 2008 Olympic Games. She then went on to be the only athlete to win two medals in rowing at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Crow is an Ambassador for this year’s Festival.

120483993_10
Rowing's Alexander Hill (second from left) has been given the honour of lighting the cauldren at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival

Vanuatu has sent six rowers to the Festival. This is the first time the nation has competed as their own country at the Festival and the racing will be used to help select which crews may compete later this year at the World Rowing Championships in Chungju, Korea.

The Festival starts with an opening ceremony on 16 January and Australian rower Alexander Hill has been given the honour of ‘lighting the cauldron’ at the ceremony. Hill became a junior World Champion in the coxed four in 2011 and in 2012 as a 19-year-old he won bronze at the under-23 level in Australia’s men’s eight.

Rowing at the Festival will be held from 19 to 20 January 2013.

For more information, click here.