The final opportunity for nations to qualify for rowing at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games begins Thursday (21 April), in Gavirate, Italy.
The Paralympic Qualification Regatta runs until Saturday (23 April), with spots available in four events – AS women’s single sculls (ASW1x), AS men’s single sculls (ASM1x), TA mixed double sculls (TAMix2x) and LTA mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+). The top two boats in each event will qualify for their nation. The competition will be followed by the International Para-Rowing Regatta (22-24 April).
Legs, trunk and arms mixed coxed fours (LTAMix4+)
Entries in the LTAMix4+ include the Chinese crew who previously placed fourth at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In the absence of the top-three ranked crews from London, they will look to post a dominating performance to ensure their selection.
Australia and Brazil were on pace to qualify during the 2015 World Championships B-final, but were just seconds from a top-eight finish. They will try again this week, looking to beat the Chinese, as well as boats from Austria, Belarus, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Zimbabwe.
From the 2015 World Championships in Aiguebelette, France, nations that had already qualified slots in the LTAMix4+ are: Great Britain, Italy, Ukraine, USA, Canada, South Africa, Germany and France.
Men’s single sculls (ASM1x)
The men’s arms only race will be highly contested with 16 entries, including China’s London 2012 gold medallist Cheng Huang and South Korea’s Jan-Ha Park, who placed fifth in London. Park could not hold off a late burst from Italy’s Fabrizio Caselli during the 2015 World Championship B-finals, finishing third; the top two boats from the B-finals joined the top six finishers from the A-finals from the 2015 World Championships.
With Australia’s current world champion Erik Horrie absent having secured a slot for his nation in Aiguebelette, the Gavirate regatta provides the opportunity for another athlete to demonstrate his form prior to the Paralympic Games.
Australia, Ukraine, Great Britain, Russia, USA, Netherlands, Brazil and Italy have all qualified boats in the ASM1x following top-eight performances in the 2015 World Championships.
Women’s single sculls (ASW1x)
All three of the podium athletes from the 2015 World Championships – Israel’s Moran Samuel, Great Britain’s Rachel Morris and Norway’s Birgit Skarstein – are absent having already qualified for their nations. Brazil, Belarus, Italy, South Africa and the USA have also qualified boats in this race.
However, the women’s single sculls race is expected to be very open with no clear favourite. South Korea’s Sejeong Kim took third in last year’s B-final race, missing out on a top-eight finish, but will be looking to make up for that this week.
LTA mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+)
The trunk and arms mixed sculls event sees Italian Daniele Stafanoni, who placed sixth at the London 2012 Paralympics, aiming for qualification for Rio with new rowing partner Anila Hoxha. With none of the 2015 World Championships A-final crews attending, this will be another open race presenting crews with the best opportunity possible to secure final qualification places for Rio. Seven boats are entered, seeking to join qualified nations Australia, Great Britain, France, Ukraine, Netherlands, Brazil, Poland and Israel, in September’s Games.
More information on the Paralympic Qualification Regatta can be found on World Rowing’s website.