The spectacular Olympic gold medal performance by South Africa's   the first for a rowing team from Africa, is one of the main reasons why the crew was designated as 2012 World Rowing Male Crew of the Year. The most successful Olympic Games ever for New Zealand's rowing team boded well for their head coach Dick Tonks, who receives the 2012 World Rowing Coach of the Year award. Having an unbeaten year and a long rise to the top gave Great Britain's women's double sculls crew the edge to win the 2012 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year. A phenomenal performance at the Paralympic Games led to the selection of China's Huang Cheng as the 2012 World Rowing Adaptive Crew of the Year. In the glow of the London Olympic Games, Great Britain's Diana "Di" Ellis, Chairman of British Rowing, was chosen for World Rowing Distinguished Service to International Rowing.

The 2012 World Rowing Awards selection process began with the submission of nearly 1,000 nominations from the world of rowing. The FISA Council then voted for the finalists. These were then submitted to FISA's Executive Committee who selected the final winners. A World Rowing Awards Gala Dinner taking place at the World Rowing Coaches Conference in Limerick, Ireland this evening Friday 2 November, will celebrate the award winners at Knappogue Castle.

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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 06: New Zealand rowing coach Dick Tonks answers questions at a press conference as his three-year-old son Archie sneaks a look, after the teams arrival at the Auckland International Airport following the World Rowing Championships in Japan September 6, 2005 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Ross Land/Getty Images)

2012 World Rowing Coach of the Year
Dick Tonks, New Zealand

When New Zealand picked up an unprecedented five medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games it was clear that their head coach Dick Tonks was behind this success. Tonks has been the brains and sweat behind the amazing success of New Zealand rowing. In London, the men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray completed a perfect Olympic cycle by remaining unbeaten since forming a crew in 2009. Tonks is also the coach behind Olympic Champion in the men's single sculls, Mahe Drysdale. As a five-time World Champion and two-time Olympic medallist Drysdale is New Zealand's most successful single sculler.

Tonks's name can also be connected to a string of former New Zealand successes such as the Evers-Swindell twins who became two-time Olympic Champions and Rob Waddell, to name a few. An Olympic medallist from 1972, Tonks began as a volunteer coach in his home town of Wanganui where he worked night shift at a factory so that he could coach during the day. Tonks has won this award twice before, in 2005 and in 2010.

2012 World Rowing Male Crew of the Year
James Thompson, Matthew Brittain, John Smith, Sizwe Lawrence Ndlovu

(South Africa, Lightweight Men's Four)

South Africa’s James Thompson (b), Matthew Brittain, John Smith and Sizwe Ndlovu (s) compete to win the gold medal in the lightweight men’s four Final A at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

As the first African rowing team to win Olympic gold in rowing, Matthew Brittain, John Smith, Sizwe Lawrence Ndlovu and James Thompson brought rowing into South Africa's public consciousness. The lightweight men's four had an outstanding Olympic final, taking on the mighty Danish crew as well as the Australian World Champion crew and the highly regarded British.

In the closely fought final, South Africa won at the line by out-sprinting their competition. All members of the crew were first-time Olympians but, with the help of their coach Paul Jackson, they managed to hold their perspective and keep cool heads in front of 25,000 screaming spectators at the beautiful Eton Dorney Olympic rowing course.

Stroke and most experienced crew member, Ndlovu became the first black African rower to win Olympic gold. 

2012 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins

Anna Watkins (b) and Katherine Grainger (s) of Great Britain celebrate winning gold at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

(Great Britain, Women's Double Sculls)

When Great Britain's most medalled female rower Katherine Grainger teamed up with Anna Watkins in the women's double in 2010 it turned out to be the perfect pairing. The duo were never beaten and when they raced in the London Olympic Rowing Regatta final they looked untouchable, leading from start to finish. London marked the first Olympic gold for Grainger who had already collected three Olympic silvers. For Watkins it added to her 2008 Olympic bronze medal.

Cheng Huang of China celebrates winning gold in the final of the AS men’s single sculls at the 2012 Paralympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney, Great Britain

2012 World Rowing Adaptive Rower of the Year
Huang Cheng
(China, AS Men's Single Sculls)

Just two years into the sport and only one international race under his belt, Huang Cheng took the 2012 Paralympic Games by storm by racing to a new World Best and Paralympic Best Time in his heat. Huang's time was more than four seconds faster than the previous World Best Time which was set by the then unbeaten British sculler Tom Aggar.

Huang, who suffered from polio, then went on to win the Paralympic final by a clear three seconds to become the Paralympic Champion. Huang had taken this adaptive single sculling event to a new level. 


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BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 10: BOA Executive Board Di Ellis of the British Olympic Team poses for a portrait during the team GB kitting out at the NEC on July 10, 2008 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

2012 World Rowing Distinguished Service to International Rowing
Di Ellis, Great Britain

As British Rowing's chairman since 1989, Di Ellis can be considered the backbone of British Rowing. Ellis began by enjoying a variety of water sports including rowing, before going on to become a rowing umpire. She also had a stint as British Rowing's team manager.

Ellis became the first woman chairman of British Rowing in 1989 and since then she has been on the organising committee of six world events. She was part of the delegation for the London 2012 Olympic bid. In 2013, Ellis will step down from her role as chairman.