The first day of racing at the Rio 2016 Olympic rowing regatta has been completed at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rowers competing in eight boat classes got the regatta under way with the men’s single sculls starting the day. Olympic Champion from New Zealand, Mahe Drysdale recorded the fastest qualifying time of the 32 nations that made up the men’s single sculls. Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez had the next fastest time.
The women’s single sculls also had 32 countries competing and Mexico’s Kenia Lechuga Alanis was the surprise winner of her heat when she beat World Champion Kimberly Brennan of Australia. Lechuga also recorded the fastest time of all of the boats to move on to the quarterfinals.
Favourites in the men’s double sculls Valent and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia and favourites in the men’s pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray of New Zealand had relatively comfortable wins. While 2013 World Champions, Lithuania’s Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite proved to be the fastest boat in the women’s double sculls.
Weather conditions proved to be tough through the middle part of the 2000m race with rowers having to contend with wind gusts causing rough water. This was especially problematic for Serbia’s men’s pair who flipped their boat with 500m left to row. A FISA executive committee decision ruled that Serbia would be granted permission to race in the repechage and therefore keep their racing hopes alive.
FISA President, Jean-Christophe Rolland confirmed that water conditions were considered rowable. “We look at three important factors: safety, fairness and ‘rowability’. Today, we determined that the athletes were not in danger out on the course, the conditions were considered to be the same across the six lanes, and it was rowable, meaning boats were not sinking.”
Weather forecasts predict that conditions are not likely to get better over the next four days. “We will continue to use these three factors to determine how racing will continue. As of now, there is no change to the schedule. These tough conditions will test the skill of the athletes,” said Rolland.
The Olympic rowing regatta moves to repechages and further heats for Sunday’s racing of this eight-day regatta. Finals begin on Wednesday 10 August.