Rowing joined the Olympic program in Paris 1900, after bad weather caused its cancellation at Athens in 1896. Australia first competed in rowing at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games in Sweden.
Australia’s rich Olympic history in rowing started with Henry ‘Bobby’ Pearce who won back-to-back gold medals in the single sculls in 1928 and 1932. The singles sculls success continued at the following two Olympics, with Merv Wood winning gold and silver at 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki. Wood also won bronze in 1956 in the double sculls with Murray Riley. The triple Olympic medallist also has the distinction of being the only Australian to have carried the flag in the Opening Ceremony twice. Australia’s first sweep-oared medal, a bronze, came in 1952 with the men’s eight.
The nation was consistently on the podium, but it was 44 years between golds after Wood’s win in 1948. The 1992 Barcelona Games broke the gold medal drought and introduced the world to the “Oarsome Foursome” who not only were the first sweep-oared Aussie crew to win an Olympic gold, but they would go on to defend their title four years later in Atlanta.
In 2016, Australia’s Kim Brennan, won the country’s first female rowing gold medal in 20 years. In 1996, Kate Allen (nee Slatter) and Megan Marcks (nee Still) won gold in the Women’s Pair at the Atlanta Olympic Games, 20 years later Brennan won gold in the Women’s Single Sculls at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It was the first time Australia had won a gold medal in the Women’s Single Sculls in the Games’ history.
In 2021, at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Australia won gold in both the Men’s and Women’s Fours and bronze medals in the Men’s and Women’s Quadruple Sculls, in what was dubbed the ‘Hour of Power’ by the media. The victory by Australia’s Men’s Four, saw the crew reclaim the title from the British who had been Olympic Champions for the past five Olympic Games, while the Women’s Four claimed the Olympic title after the boat was re-introduced to the Games for the first time since 1992.
To read more about Australia’s history at the Olympic Games, click here.
Australia has won a total of 13 gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze Olympic medals.
To see the full list of Australian Olympic rowing medallists click here
To see the 13 Australian Olympic Gold medal winning crews click here
To see the list of all rowing Olympians click here