Olympics 2008: Rowing in China

Rowing has been an Olympic Games sport since 1900. There are two different kinds; sculling and sweep rowing. The difference lies in the position of the rower. When sculling the rower holds one oar in each hand, while with sweep rowing he holds one single oar with both hands.

Since 1988 men as well as women had to row 2000m at the Olympic Games. This was already the case for men since 1952. At games held before that time, they had to race different distances. Women had previously only had to cover 1000m, but since 1988 the Olympic distance of 2000m was specified for women as well.

There are for both men and women the following Rowing types; single sculls, double sculls, double sculls (for lightweights since 1996), coxless pair, eight with coxswain and quadruple sculls without coxswain. The men have in addition a four without coxswain.

In China, sport is planned on provincial level and gets financed through national and local government funds. Now, in rowing, the advantage the Chinese athletes have lies therein that they have a status as ‘fulltime-rowers’, paid by the government. However, in the general opinion, rowing is obviously not very popular or even common in China. The former team manager Wu Hau says that most rowers are merely the, “remnants of basketball and swimming.”
Until now the Chinese athletes were only successful once in rowing at the Olympic Games. In Olympics 1996 in Atlanta, Cao Mianying and Zhang Xiuyun won silver medals in women’s double sculls behind Canada and before the Netherlands. It remains to be seen whether the Chinese athletes can repeat their success and win medals at the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing.


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