Paris 2024: Introduction to Para rowing

There will be up to 104 Para rowers competing in five medal events at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games 13 May 2024
Photo shows the start line of the Rowing Mixed Coxed Four - PR3Mix4+ at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Para rowing made its Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008.
ⒸBob Martin/OIS

Welcome to Week 12 of Paris 2024 Paralympic Sports Weeks. This week, everything you need to know about Para rowing – the ultimate test of strength and stamina.

In Para rowing, athletes propel across 2,000 metres on a boat using oars to be the fastest in a six-lane battle. There will be up to 104 athletes competing in five medal events at Paris 2024.


Brief history of Para rowing

Para rowing made its Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008. More than 90 athletes took part in four medal events – Men’s single sculls AM1x, Women’s single sculls AW1x, Mixed Double Sculls TAMix2x and Mixed Coxed Four LTAMix4 – at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park in China.

Chinese duo of Yangjing Zhou and Zilong Shan won the Mixed Double Sculls TAMix2x event at Beijing 2008. @Feng Li/Getty Images

The first Para rowing medals were awarded to the Chinese crew of Yangjing Zhou and Zilong Shan in the TAMix2x. British rowers dominated the singles events, with Tom Aggar winning the men’s sculls and Helene Raynsford claiming the women’s sculls.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games featured 23 countries competing for 12 medals in four boat classes, with a total of 48 boats and 96 rowers entered. The medals were spread among nine countries.

At Tokyo 2020, Para rowers competed across the same distance as their Olympic counterparts – 2,000m. This rule change doubled the distance used at Rio 2016, London 2012, and Beijing 2008.

Para rowers competed across 2,000 metres at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.  @Bob Martin/OIS


What to watch in Para rowing

Power, timing and stroke speed are vital to athletes’ success in Para rowing.

The Paralympic Games will feature three types of events: single sculls, double sculls and coxed four. There are also three sports classes, PR1-PR3, related to the impact of the athletes’ disability on their performance.

PR1 single scull events are for rowers without trunk or leg function. They race using two oars and strap their bodies for support and balance.

Mixed double scull races are for PR2 and PR3 rowers. They propel with two oars and might have some leg function to help slide the seat for power.

In coxed four races, athletes work together as a team of four rowers and a coxswain. Teams consist of two female and two male athletes with different types of disabilities, each using one oar. The coxswain is responsible for steering and looking out for the tactics from rival boats.

The fastest boats from the heats or repechage qualify for the finals.

Ninety-six Para athletes competed at Tokyo 2020. @Bob Martin/ OIS


Memorable Paralympic moments

Great Britain tops the all-time Para rowing medals table with 10 medals, including eight golds, followed by China with six medals and Ukraine with five.

Para rowing took centre stage at the 2008 Paralympics. All eyes were on Great Britain’s reigning world champion Aggar. He lived up to expectations, finishing almost four seconds ahead of runner-up Oleksandr Petrenko of Ukraine.

Aggar has competed at three Paralympic Games. @Feng Li/Getty Images

Ukraine’s Roman Polianskyi shot to stardom at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. He entered as an unknown, only taking up the sport two years prior. But in the men’s single sculls, he beat defending Paralympic champion Cheng Huang from China to win his maiden gold medal.

At Tokyo 2020, Great Britain captured two of the four gold medals up for grabs. The PR2 mixed double sculls of Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley successfully defended their Paralympic title. Great Britain's second gold came in the PR3 mixed coxed four event.

Birgit Skarstein cemented her status as one of Norway’s most impressive athletes, winning the women’s PR1 single sculls. She started rowing in 2012 and later competed in Nordic skiing at both the Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.

Skarstein, a dual summer-winter sport athlete, won her first Paralympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020. @Naomi Baker/Getty Images


Paris 2024 programme

Five medal events will take place at Paris 2024:

Men: PR1M1x

Women: PR1W1x

Mixed: PR2Mix2x, PR3Mix2x, PR3Mix4+


Paris 2024 venue

Para rowers from around the world will take the spotlight at the Vaires-Sur-Marne Nautical Stadium. Located near the Disneyland Paris theme park, the venue can hold about 14,000 spectators during Para rowing competition.

Para rowing competitions will take place between 30 August and 1 September. @Paris 2024

After the Games, people can visit the site to relax and enjoy the scenery, with 450 trees planted to offer people “somewhere to breathe” in the city.


Book your tickets for the Paralympic Games by visiting the Paris 2024 ticketing website.