Rowing at Tokyo 2020

Venue: Sea Forest Waterway

Competition Dates: July 23-30, 2021 (Days 0-7)

Events: 14 (7 men, 7 women)

National Federation: Rowing Canada Aviron 

International Federation: World Rowing Federation

Olympic history will be made at Tokyo 2020 as rowing becomes fully gender equal, featuring identical events for men and women. The 14 rowing events on the Olympic program can be divided into two groups: scull events (single sculls, double sculls, quadruple sculls, lightweight double sculls) and sweep events (pair, four, eight). In sculling, each rower pulls two oars. In sweeping, each rower pulls one oar. Rowing events are contested by individuals and crews of two, four or eight. On the current Olympic program, only the eight includes a coxswain to pace and steer the boat.

Each race covers a distance of 2000m on a six-lane course. Depending on the number of entries, there will be preliminary heats, repechages, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. The A final determines the first six places and the B final determines places seven through 12.

As the name suggests, there is a maximum weight for lightweight crews. A women’s lightweight crew can average no more than 57kg with no individual rower exceeding 59kg. The maximum average weight for a men’s lightweight crew is 70kg with no individual rower exceeding 72.5kg. There are no such restrictions in any other event, except for coxswains who must weigh at least 55kg but don’t need to be the same gender as the crew they are coxing.

Canada’s Olympic History (Pre-Tokyo 2020)

The 41 Olympic medals won by Canadian rowers are the third-most for the country in summer sports.

It all began at St. Louis 1904 where the men’s eight won a silver medal, the first of 11 Olympic medals Canada has won in the men’s eight. That haul is highlighted by gold medals at Los Angeles 1984, Barcelona 1992 and Beijing 2008. The women’s eight has contributed four medals, the only gold also coming at Barcelona 1992.

The most rowing medals Canada has won at a single Olympic Games is six, achieved at Los Angeles 1984 and Atlanta 1996. It was in Los Angeles where Lesley Thompson-Willie won the first of her five Olympic medals, silver in the women’s coxed four, en route to becoming Canada’s most decorated rower. Her other four medals came in the women’s eight.

It was also in Atlanta where Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle became the first Canadian athletes to ever win three career Olympic gold medals, winning the women’s double sculls to add to the double gold they had won at Barcelona 1992 in the women’s pair and women’s eight. Of Canada’s five rowing medals won in Barcelona, four were gold to go with the bronze medal won in the women’s single sculls by Silken Laumann just 78 days and five surgeries after a training accident that saw another shell ram into her, breaking her right leg.

Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in rowing was won in the men’s four at Melbourne 1956. It was followed eight years later by George Hungerford and Roger Jackson winning the men’s pair at Tokyo 1964 where they were dubbed the Golden Rejects after going from alternates to Olympic champions just weeks after beginning to train together. They were Canada’s first Olympic gold medallists after the maple leaf flag had become official less than four months earlier.

At Rio 2016, Canada earned just one medal on the water as Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee claimed silver in the women’s lightweight double sculls.