Rowing made its Paralympic debut at the Beijing 2008 Games. Rowing at the Paralympic Games is known as Para rowing and was formerly known as adaptive rowing.
This means that the athlete can practice the sport rather than the sport being adapted
to the athlete. Boats vary depending on the athlete’s impairment.
There are two types of Paralympic rowing: “Sweep” where rowers use a single oar,
and “sculling” where they use two. The single scull boats are approximately 8.2m
in length whilst the double sculls approximately 10.4m.
There are four Paralympic disciplines – mixed coxed four, double sculls and men’s and
women’s single sculls. The coxed four is a four-person mixed gender
boat, approximately 13.7m in length – with a cox – who does not have to have an
impairment and can be either gender. This is a “sweep” boat.
Competitors have movement in the legs, trunk and/or arms and the team can include a maximum
of two visually impaired rowers. In the event of visually impaired athletes
participating, the starter will give an audible call to indicate
that the race is starting – either “Red Flag” or “Red Light” depending on the
method. Double sculls is a two-person mixed gender
boat for rowers with trunk and arm movement only.
Single sculls is a fixed seat boat for athletes who have full movement of their arms and shoulders
only. All races are held over a 1,000m course with
a maximum of six boats competing per race. Each event has a heat format where the number
that qualify directly for the final depends on the number of entries.
The remaining boats then compete in repechage races which offer a second chance to compete
in the final and row for gold. There can also be semi-finals, depending on entry numbers. Rowing requires strength, stamina and endurance
as athletes push themselves to the limit.