The women's eight boat races in the repechage during Rio2016 on August 11, 2016. (David Jackson/COC)

Rowing

Team Canada Medal Count

Gold medal icon 10
Silver medal icon 17
Bronze medal icon 16

Sport Overview

Rowing at Paris 2024

Venue: Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium

Competition Dates: July 27-August 3 (Days 1-8)

Events: 14 (7 men, 7 women)

Trivia: Test your knowledge!

Two female rowers compete in a double sculls event

Olympic rowing became fully gender equal at Tokyo 2020, finally featuring identical events for men and women.

The 14 rowing events on the Olympic program can be divided into two groups: scull events (single sculls, double sculls, quadruple sculls, lightweight double sculls) and sweep events (pair, four, eight). 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 to pace and steer the boat.

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.

As the name suggests, there is a maximum weight for lightweight crews. A women’s lightweight crew can average no more than 57kg with no individual rower exceeding 59kg. The maximum average weight for a men’s lightweight crew is 70kg with no individual rower exceeding 72.5kg. There are no such restrictions in any other event, except for coxswains who must weigh at least 55kg but don’t need to be the same gender as the crew they are coxing.

Canada’s Olympic History (Pre-Paris 2024)

The 43 Olympic medals won by Canadian rowers are the third-most for the country in summer sports.

Team Canada women's eight crew bite their medals

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 five medals, highlighted by gold medals at Barcelona 1992 and Tokyo 2020.

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 compete at Barcelona 1992

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. Canada didn’t win another medal in the women’s pair until Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens captured bronze at Tokyo 2020.  

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.

At Rio 2016, Canada earned just one medal on the water as Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee claimed silver in the women’s lightweight double sculls.

Olympic Rowing History

Rowing was supposed to be included at the first Olympic Games in 1896, but rough seas forced the cancellation of the events. Rowing has been successfully contested at every Olympic Games dating back to Paris 1900. Only men competed in Olympic rowing until Montreal 1976 when six women’s events were added. At that time, women’s races were over 1000m. It wasn’t until Seoul 1988 that women’s rowing events were also held on 2000m courses, like the men.

Canadian Medallists

Event Athlete Finish Games
Coxless Four - MenArchie MacKinnon, Donald Arnold, Lorne Loomer, Walter D’HondtGold1956 Melbourne

Teams