Used as a means of transport since ancient Egypt, Greece and Italy, Rowing first emerged as a sport in the late 17th century and early 18th century in England. The first official contest was the famous race between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge along the River Thames, first held in 1828 and continuing until this day.
The sport gradually gained popularity in Europe and other continents. The International Rowing Federation (known by French acronym FISA) was founded in 1892, and in the following year it organised its first regatta, in Italy.
The sport has been a regular fixture at the Olympic Games since the first edition of the modern era, in 1896. However, the competition in open waters off Athens had to be cancelled due to bad weather.
As a result, Rowing’s definitive debut in the Olympic programme was at the Paris 1900 Games, and it was only for men. Women first rowed at the Games in 1976, in Montreal, Canada.
The boats may hold one, two, four or eight rowers, each using one or two oars. Boats with eight rowers also have a coxswain, who is responsible for steering the boat and commanding the crew.
The objective in Rowing is simple: to complete the course in a straight line in the shortest possible time. Regardless of the category or type of boat, the distance is always the same: 2,000 metres. The competition route is marked by buoys and each heat has up to six boats.
In competitions for which more than six boats have enrolled, there are elimination rounds, repechage and semi-finals, until successful teams have qualified for the final A group, in which medals can be won. The other teams compete in the final B group.