Sport Week: History of rowing

Para rowing will make its third Paralympic Games appearance in Rio. 28 Jul 2016
A picture of four people rowing

Anne-Marie McPaid (b), Sarah Caffrey, Ryan Shane, Kevin Du Toit (s) and Helen Arbuthnot (c) of Ireland Rowing Teamat the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

By Fran Brown | For the IPC

Formerly called adaptive rowing, Para rowing was first raced at the 2002 Adaptive World Rowing Championships in Seville, Spain. It consisted of a leg, trunk and arms mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+) competition and a trunk and arms mixed single sculls event (ASM1x), with a total of seven countries competing. Australia won the LTAMix4+ race and the USA’s Scott Brown took the mixed single sculls event.

Subsequently the mixed double sculls event for trunk and arms (TAMix2x) was added to the 2003 World Championships, where it was won by the US crew of Brown and Angela Madsen. The duo went on to dominate the event through to the 2006 Worlds.

It was not until 2006 when the first women’s event was included in the World Championships, which had seven entries and was won by Great Britain’s Helene Raynsford.

The sport reached new heights when it was announced in 2005 that rowing would be in the Paralympic programme for Beijing 2008, with medal events in the ASM1x, ASW1x, TAMix2x and LTAMix4+.

In Beijing 2008, the Chinese crew of Yangjing Zhou and Zilong Shan won the first Paralympic medal in the TAMix2x. Italians Paola Protopapa, Luca Agoletto, Daniele Signore, Graziana Saccocci and cox Alessandro Franzetti captured gold in the LTAMix4+.

Great British rowers dominated the singles events, with Tom Aggar winning the men’s sculls and Raynsford claiming the women’s sculls.

Aggar went on to dominate the men’s single sculls event in the run-up to the London 2012 Paralympics, with wins at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 World Championships.

But London 2012 saw new champions. Ukraine’s Alla Lysenko took the women’s singles title, and China’s Cheng Huang beat Australia’s Erik Horrie by a narrow margin in the men’s single sculls; Aggar just missed the podium.

Great Britain did emerge as a dominate force in the LTAMix4+. James Roe, David Smith, Pamela Relph, Naomi Riches and Lily Vane De Broecke (cox) who despite changes to crew members through the years, have continued to own the event with subsequent wins at 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Championships.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games had 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.

A new event was added in 2013 with LTAMix2x (LTA mixed double sculls), however only four will be contested in Rio 2016, which is expected to feature 96 rowers.

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.

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