Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

First Olympic Appearance: 1900 (men); 1976 (women)

by Gerry Brown and Mark Zurlo

Did You Know?

The coxswain must weigh at least 55 kilos (about 121 pounds) in men's events and 50 kilos in women's events (about 110 pounds). If the cox is lighter, a weight can be used to make up the difference. Also, a crew can continue racing if a rower falls out of the boat, but not if the cox goes overboard.

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Rowing was supposed to begin its Olympic history in 1896 but the weather was too rough to hold any races and it wasn't until four years later in Paris that the first Olympic rowing medals were awarded.

There are two classes in the modern sport of rowing—sculling and sweep rowing. In sculling, the crew members each row with two oars, one on either side of the boat. In sweep the rowers have both hands on a single oar and row on one side of the boat only.

Men’s Olympic Rowing events are: single sculls, double sculls, lightweight double sculls, quadruple sculls, pair, four, lightweight four, and eight with coxswain. Women’s Olympic events are: single sculls, double sculls, lightweight double sculls, quadruple sculls, pair, and eight with coxswain. Only the eights have coxswains, a small person, who steers the boat, motivates the rowers, and gives orders to the crew.

The weight cut-off for the women's lightweight events is 59 kilos or 130 pounds and 72.5 kilos or 160 pounds, for the men's lightweight races. However the average weight of a women's lightweight crew cannot exceed 57 kilos (about 126 pounds) and the average men's lightweight crew cannot weigh more than 70 kilos (about 154 pounds).

Eton Dorney Rowing Centre at Dorney Lake is the site of the 2012 rowing venue and is nestled within a 400-acre park in a nature conservation area 25 miles west of London. The venue has a 2,200m, eight-lane rowing course, warm-up lanes, and competition facilities. This preexisting world-class rowing destination needed only a few alterations to make it Olympics-worthy, and will continue to serve the international rowing community long after 2012.

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