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Tokyo 2020 Preview – Rowing

Australia’s rowing team is the second largest team within the Australian Olympic Team, with a total of 38 athletes competing across nine boats. Competition begins on Friday 23 July and runs through to Friday 30 July – with boats set to race in heats first, followed by either repechages or semi-finals, and then A-Finals on differing days.

Australia qualified eight of its boats by virtue of their placings at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, held in Austria, while it’s ninth boat, the Women’s Quadruple Scull qualified late, at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May 2021. The team includes 2019 World Champions, the Women’s Four, plus multiple World Rowing Cup and World Championships medallists in its ranks.

Find out more about the athletes selected by clicking here.

 Ones to Watch

The Men’s and Women’s Fours are two of Australia’s key boats to keep an eye out for in Tokyo. The Women’s Four are the 2019 World Champions, while the Men’s Four have a strong pedigree on the world stage. Keep an eye out for young up and comers including Angus Dawson and Nick Lavery in the Men’s Eight, while the Women’s Eight will be coxed for the first time by a male, James Rook – who is overseeing a crew including Rio Olympians Genevieve Horton, Molly Goodman and Olympia Aldersey, as well as former surf-boat rower, Georgie Rowe.

Sports specific information

Crews race over two kilometres, firstly in heats in a bid to qualify into semi-finals or straight through to finals. If they don’t finish in the required ranking in their heat (e.g. top two), they have an additional opportunity to qualify via racing in the repechage of their respective boat. The winner of the final is decided by which crew crosses the line first.


Australia has a strong pedigree in rowing, having won 11 gold medals, 15 silver medals and 14 bronze medals while its current crop of athletes owning over 150 World Rowing Cup medals between them and multiple World Rowing Championship titles.

Below is a preview of each of the boat classes Australia is set to compete in at these Games.

Women’s Double Scull
Australia’s Women’s Double Scull features Olympic debutants, Amanda Bateman and Tara Rigney. This young duo have yet to compete on the world stage, but are full of promise, coached by Ellen Randell. They take on some experienced boats in their class, including the New Zealand, Romania and the Netherlands – all of whom have been highly successful in World Championships leading into this Games.

 Women’s Coxless Pair
Annabelle McIntyre and Jessica Morrison will be racing the Women’s Pair and the Women’s Four at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The duo won silver in 2019 at the World Rowing Championships, when they qualified the boat for the Games, and will be looking to go one better this time around. The pair’s stiffest competition will come from New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, the reigning World Champions. It’s likely that Great Britain’s double Olympic-gold medallist, Helen Glover with pair partner Polly Swann, and Canadians Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens will be in the mix too.

 Women’s Coxless Four
Joining McIntyre and Morrison in the Women’s Four will be Rio 2016 Olympian, Lucy Stephan, and Olympic debutant, Rosemary Popa. Australia are the reigning World Champions in the Women’s Four, albeit with a slightly different looking crew from 2019, Stephan is the only one remaining from that gold-medal winning crew. While John Keogh’s crew could be picked as favourites, the Dutch and Irish Women’s Fours should not be discounted along with the USA and Canada who have a strong history in Women’s sweep rowing.

Women’s Quadruple Scull
Australia’s Women’s Quadruple Scull of Ria Thompson, Rowena Meredith, Harriet Hudson and Caitlin Cronin have already had a taste of international competition this year having competed and won the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. The crew, coached by Andrew Randell, will face a field of tight competition, including the likes of China and Germany.

 Women’s Coxed Eight
Australia’s Women’s Eight are World Championships silver medallists from 2019 and are a mixture of Olympians and debutants. 2016 Rio Olympians Genevieve Horton, Molly Goodman and Olympia Aldersey are joined by debutants Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe, Georgie Rowe, Bronwyn Cox, Giorgia Patten and coxswain James Rook. The crew will be in the mix for medals, with challenges likely to come from reigning World Champions, New Zealand, as well as Great Britain, Romania and the USA all of whom have a strong history in the boat class.

 Men’s Coxless Pair
Joshua Hicks and Sam Hardy are the 2019 bronze medallists from the World Rowing Championships in this crew. The Sinkovic brothers of Croatia will provide the toughest competition for the Australians, while New Zealand could be in the mix with their new look combination. The Italian duo, and Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallists, Marco di Costanzo and Giovanni Abagnale will also provide solid competition.

Men’s Coxless Four
Australia won silvers in London and Rio in this boat class, with the crew looking to go one better in Tokyo and take home the gold. Rio Olympians Spencer Turrin and Alexander Hill are joined by debutants Jack Hargreaves and Alexander Purnell. Their competition will come again from Great Britain and Italy, albeit the Italian crew has a slightly new look to it since 2019, with two of their 2019 crew moving into the Pair.

Men’s Coxed Eight
Australia’s stiffest competition for medals in the Men’s Eight will come from Germany and Great Britain, both of whom have finished with gold medals while competing in Europe this season. The British are the defending Olympic champions, while Germany took silver in 2016. Australia’s crew, coxed by debutant Stuart Sim, includes two-time Olympian Nicholas Purnell and three-time Olympian Joshua Booth.

Men’s Quadruple Scull
The Men’s Quadruple Scull sees the return of Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist from the boat class, Cameron Girdlestone, who is joined by Olympic debutants Jack Cleary, Caleb Antill and Luke Letcher. Their stiffest competition will come from the 2019 World Champions, the Netherlands, while the Italian and Polish crews cannot be discounted to be in the mix.

Competition Facts
Dates: 23 to 30 July 2021
Location: Sea Forest Waterway

Did you know?

  • Did you know that this Games is the first-time coxswains of the Eights can be of either gender? The governing body, World Rowing, made the change post Rio 2016, so that coxswains are considered ‘gender-neutral’. This means the Men’s and Women’s Eight can be coxed by an athlete of either gender.
  • There are an equal number of men and women competing at rowing in Tokyo – 263 men and 263 women.
  • Joshua Booth in Australia’s Men’s Eight is the only three-time Olympian in the rowing team. He represented Australia in the Men’s Eight in London 2012 and in the Men’s Four in Rio 2016, where he won a silver medal.