Four countries likely to dominate Olympic rowing

July 16th, 2008 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 16 (Xinhua) With all three pre-Olympic rowing World Cup regattas now concluded, the sport is turning its full attention to Beijing Olympics where China, New Zealand, Britain and Germany look like the nations to beat. There are 14 rowing events at the Olympics to be held at the Shunyi International Rowing Park. Australia will compete in all the events. Germany and the US will compete in 13 out of 14 events while host China will compete in 11.

In recent years, rowing has netted big medal gains for the British team and it is expected to lead the way yet again. “Clearly, rowing is a very, very strong sport for us,” double Olympic gold medal winner and London 2012 Organising Committee Chairman Sebastian Coe said.

Britain has enjoyed some memorable moments on the water at the Olympics through Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent but this time round they will be looking for their women to make the breakthrough in terms of gold.

If that is to be the case their best hopes lie in the women’s quadruple sculls. That would be just desserts for the veteran of the crew, 32-year-old Katherine Grainger, who has silver medals from the 2000 and 2004 Games.

Grainger is determined to sign off with gold. “Olympic gold is the only one missing from the set,” she told the BBC. However, they will have to beat the Chinese, who have dominated women’s rowing in Asia for many years.

China’s deputy sports minister Cui Dalin told reporters last year that China had identified some talented individuals in sports like boxing, wrestling and rowing. Another senior sports official said in April that China had been building up for a breakthrough in rowing in the Beijing Games, implying that gold chances were increasing.

Australia will send a 48-strong rowing team to the Beijing Games. For the first time Australia will compete in all the events.

The rowing team will be the biggest among the Australian Olympic delegation. Australia has competed in rowing since the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and has won 29 Olympic medals - eight gold, nine silver and 12 bronze.

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