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Learn More About Rowing


What is the history of rowing?

Rowing was first used as a method of transportation and warfare in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Warriors would row to across water to attack their enemies land or conquer new places. Rowing as a sport was most likely started in England in the 18th century, with the first university boat race taking place in 1828. By the 19th century, rowing became popularized in America and crew became a sport in universities throughout the United States.

Rowing at the Olympic Games

Rowing has been included in all of the Olympic Games except the 1896 Games in Athens due to a dangerously stormy sea that lead the organizers to cancel the event. Women’s rowing was introduced in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, where the team competed in a smaller program. In 1996, lightweight rowing events were added.

Until the 1960s, the United States rowing teams dominated the Olympics. However, in the 1970s, East Germany took over and remains one of the best teams in the world. Sir Steve Redgrave, a Great Britain competitor, has won gold medals at five Olympic Games and is thought to be the best rower in the world. Elisabeta Lipa of Romania is hailed as the best women’s rower, winning five gold medals from 1984 to 2004 in the Olympic Games. 

What are the current rowing Olympic sports?

There are currently 8 men’s rowing events and 7 women’s rowing events at the Olympics.

Men’s events:

  • Coxless pair (2-) men

  • Double sculls (2x) men

  • Eight with coxswain (8+) men

  • Four without coxswain (4-) men

  • Lightweight double sculls (2x) men

  • Men’s single sculls

  • Quadruple sculls without coxswain men

Women’s events:

  • Double sculls (2x) women

  • Eight with coxswain (8+) women

  • Lightweight double sculls (2x) women

  • Pair without coxswain (2-) women

  • Quadruple sculls without coxswain women

  • Single sculls (1x) women

Sports in this article

Rowing