What's it all about?
You’re in a really small boat, but you’re only rowing backwards and you’re putting your whole body into the movement — and we mean every single muscle! That’s para rowing and it could be the perfect sport for you!
How it's played
The teams: Both men and women compete in singles, mixed pairs and mixed fours. Events are divided into three different sport classes, depending on the degree of physical impairment.
The events: There are four competitions: singles sculls where you primarily use your arms, mixed doubles where you have use of arms and trunk but can’t use a sliding seat, and mixed coxed four where you have use of legs, trunk, arms and shoulders and can use a sliding seat, but might have a visual impairment.
The equipment: Boats are modified for the rowers. Some have back supports, some have straps and some have sliding seats.
The strategy: Rowing must be timed so that you’re in sync, the fastest and don't run out of energy before the finish line! The coxed four boat gets a coxswain (a person facing forward to steer them — check them out in the photo below).
The points: It's all about time! Fast is best and teams are eliminated until there's just the final three.
The athletes: They have to be in peak physical fitness! They need upper body strength to row and row (and row) the 2,000 metres to the finish line.
Did you know? Quick boating vocab lesson: while facing forward the left side of the boat is the port side, the right side is the starboard side. Now you know!
Things to watch for
- It can be really hard to keep everyone working together and keep the boat moving just right when there are four rowers competing.
- That's where the coxswain (say "cox-n") comes in. They help steer the boat and motivate the team to push on to the finish line.
Line 'em up
- At the beginning of every race, you'll see boat holders hanging on to the bow (front) of the boat.
- An aligner tells them whether they need to move the boat forward or backward to make sure everyone is in line before the race starts.
- Have a look at the single scull boats. They're slightly different than in Olympic Games rowing.
- The athlete is strapped into a back support so they only use upper body movement.
- The boat also has flotation buoys or pontoons on either side to help with balance.