How It Works:

The 14 rowing events on the Olympic program can be divided into two groups: scull events and sweep events.

Men’s and women’s single sculls                                                     Men’s and women’s pair

Men’s and women’s double sculls                                                   Men’s four

Men’s and women’s quadruple sculls                                             Men’s lightweight four

Men’s and women’s lightweight double sculls                              Men’s and women’s eight

Photo: Le Comité olympique canadien

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.

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.

Men's Eight Rowing

Canada’s Olympic History

The 40 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.

Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle

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.