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history of australian rowing at olympic games

Olympic Games—Atlanta 1996

These Games were the most successful of any Games at which Australia had competed. Australia was the top ranked nation at this regatta. Also, with the good performances of our juniors at their regatta at Strathclyde UK, Australia was the top ranked nation in 1996. This was the best ever performance of an Australian team.

Women's coxless pair

Women's Coxless Pair

str Kate Slatter & bow Megan Still

The Olympic events were changed with the reduction of open events and the introduction of two male and one female lightweight events.

Australia has a fine history of lightweight racing and we were finalists in all three events and took medals in two.


Following the forced reduction of numbers at the Olympic Games (required by the IOC to keep athlete numbers at 10,000), qualification processes were introduced and the AOC agreed to send any athlete who qualified under the requirements of their sport.

Unfortunately Australia had not performed well at the 1995 World Championships which also doubled as the main qualification event despite a good group of athletes.

In particular, at the 1995 World Championships in Finland, Australia finished with one gold, one silver and one bronze. Further, only nine crews qualified for the Olympic Games out of the fourteen events.

Accordingly five boats had to qualify through the Lucerne regatta in 1996, just prior to the Games. These were men's single scull, men's eight, women's single, women's quad and women's eight. In the end Australia qualified all crews except the women's single scull.

The results in 1996, when put in perspective of the turmoil within the sport in 1995, were even more outstanding than the superb results show.

Men's coxless four

Gold Medallists Men's Coxless Four

Michael McKay, Nick Green, James Tomkins & Drew Ginn

The 1995 World Championship results were ordinary, five crews had to qualify through the Lucerne regatta in 1996 just prior to the Games, the Australian Rowing Council was in financial difficulty, a new head coach and new selectors were appointed and the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Olympic Committee had taken over the elite programme.

The ASC and AOC established an interim administration of John Boultbee, who was then the director of the Australian Institute of Sport, Doug Donoghue from the AOC and Matt Draper, the newly appointed High Performance Manager of rowing. This bold and difficult move was the catalyst for the success enjoyed by the Olympic rowing team. The support of the ASC and the AIS director John Boultbee and the AOC through its President John Coates during this time must be remembered by the sport.

The selectors managed the process in an open, fair and objective manner which enabled the results to withstand scrutiny. That does not mean that there were not very difficult decisions as usual. The most difficult decision was probably the men's pair.

In 1995 Robert Walker and Richard Wearne won a World Championship silver medal in this event and were aiming for gold in 1996. They were one of Australia's best performed crews. They were not selected and the selectors chose David Weightman and Robert Scott instead. The decision withstood scrutiny and the Weightman/Scott combination won silver.

The men's double scull easily justified selection but unfortunately did not progress to great results.


Women's Single Scull

E1: 1st SWE, 2nd BUL, 3rd GRE, 4th LTU, 5th GER, 6th ARG
E2: 1st BLR, 2nd BEL, 3rd USA, 4th FRA, 5th ROM, 6th ALG
E3: 1st DEN, 2nd CAN, 3rd CHN, 4th GBR, 5th FIN
R1: 1st USA, 2nd BUL, 3rd GBR, 4th GER, 5th ALG
R2: 1st ROM, 2nd BEL, 3rd CHN, 4th LTU
R3: 1st CAN, 2nd FRA, 3rd FIN, 4th GRE, 5th ARG
SF1: 1st CAN, 2nd BLR, 3rd SWE, 4th BEL, 5th BUL, 6th FIN
SF2: 1st BEN, 2nd USA, 3rd GBR, 4th ROM, 5th FRA, 6th CHN
Final C: 13th GER, 14th LTU, 15th GRE, 16th ARG, 17th ALG
Final B: 7th BEL, 8th BUL, 9th ROM, 10th FRA, 11th CHN, 12th FIN
Final: 1st BLR 7:32.21 (Yekaterina Khodotovich), 2nd CAN 7:35.15 (Silken Laumann), 3rd DEN 7:37.20 (Trine Hansen), 4th SWE 7:42.58, 5th GBR 7:45.08, 6th USA 7:46.47

Women's Quad Scull

E1: 1st CAN, 2nd NED, 3rd CHN, 4th AUS, 5th ROM
E2: 1st GER, 2nd RUS, 3rd DEN, 4th UKR, 5th USA
R1: 1st DEN, 2nd NED, 3rd AUS, 4th USA
R2: 1st UKR, 2nd CHN, 3rd ROM, 4th RUS
Final B: 7th RUS, 8th USA, 9th AUS, 10th ROM
Final: 1st GER 6:27.44 (Kathrin Boron, Kerstin Koeppen, Katrin Rutschow, Jana Sorgers), 2nd UKR 6:30.36 (Inna Frolova, Svitlana Maziy, Diana Miftakhutdinova, Olena Ronzhina), 3rd CAN 6:30.38 (Laryssa Biesenthal, Kathleen Heddle, Marnie McBean, Diane O'Grady), 4th DEN 6:30.92, 5th CHN 6:31.10, 6th NED 6:35.54

The final of this event was sensational with only 2/100th of a second between second and third, with fourth only 0.5 second behind. The Australians had a most difficult job to qualify following the departure from the team of Emmy Snook through illness whilst on tour. Emmy was one of our finest athletes at that time. The crew performed above expectations to qualify at Lucerne (SUI) and finished creditably in 9th position.

Women's Lightweight Double Scull

E1: 1st USA, 2nd ITA, 3rd NED, 4th CHN, 5th FRA, 6th GRE
E2: 1st AUS, 2nd GER, 3rd SWE, 4th ESP, 5th JPN
E3: 1st ROM, 2nd DEN, 3rd CAN, 4th AUT, 5th MEX
R1: 1st NED, 2nd GER, 3rd AUT, 4th JPN, 5th GRE
R2: 1st ITA, 2nd CAN, 3rd FRA, 4th ESP
R3: 1st DEN, 2nd SWE, 3rd CHN, 4th MEX
SF1: 1st USA, 2nd ROM, 3rd ITA, 4th GER, 5th FRA, 6th SWE
SF2: 1st AUS, 2nd NED, 3rd DEN., 4th CHN, 5th CAN, 6th AUT
Final C: 13th JPN, 14thMEX, 15th GRE, 16th ESP
Final B: 7th CAN, 8th GER, 9th CHN, 10th FRA, 11th AUT, 12th SWE
Final: 1st ROM 7:12.78 (Constanta Burcica, Camelia Macoviciuc), 2nd USA 7:14.65 (Teresa Bell, Lindsay Burns), 3rd AUS 7:16.56 (as above), 4th ITA 7:16.83, 5th DEN 7:18.20, 6th NED 7:21.92

The Romanians raced very well in all women's events at this regatta. The Australian crew of Rebecca Joyce and Virginia Lee were highly experienced international athletes and raced with great skill. They were ably coached by Harald Jahrling.

Women's Eight

E1: 1st BLR, 2nd USA, 3rd NED, 4th AUS
E2: ROM, 2nd CAN, 3rd GER, 4th GBR
R: USA, 2nd CAN, 3rd NED, 4th AUS, 5th GER, 6th GBR
Final B: 7th GBR, 8th GER
Final: 1st ROM 6:19.73 (Anca Tanase, Vera Cochelea, Lillana Gafencu, Iona Olteanu, Elisabeta Lipa, Marioara Ppescu, Doina Ignat, Elena Georgescu), 2nd CAN 6:24.05 (heather McDermid, Tosha Tsang, Maria Maunder, Alison Korn, Emma Robinson, Anna van der Kamp, Jessica Monroe, Theresa Luke, Lesley Thompson), 3rd BLR 6:24.44 (Natalya Lavrinenko, Aleksandra Pankina, Natalya Volchek, Tamara Davydenko, Valentina Skbabatun, Yelena Mikulich, Natalya Stasyuk, Marina Znak, Yaroslava Pavlovich), 4th USA 6:26.19, 5th AUS 6:30.10, 6th NED 6:31.11

This young crew, average age 22, had the unenviable task of qualifying for the Games through the qualification regatta in Lucerne (SUI). This was accomplished well and the preparation for the Games was good. The fifth placing in the final was better than predicted form and excellent when compared to the experience in the other crews.

Australian Team

Women's Double Scull – Fourth

  • Bow: Marina Hatzakis (QLD)
  • Str: Bronwyn Roye (NSW)
  • Cch: Ellen Randell (NSW)

Women's Quad Scull – Ninth

  • Bow: Jane Robinson (VIC)
  • 2: Sally Newmarch (SA)
  • 3: Marina Hatzakis (QLD)
  • Str: Bronwyn Roye (NSW)
  • Cch: Ellen Randell (NSW)

Women's Lightweight Double Scull – Bronze

  • Bow: Virginia Lee (NSW)
  • Str: Rebecca Joyce (VIC)
  • Cch: Harald Jahrling (NSW)

Women's Coxless Pair – Gold

  • Bow: Megan Still (ACT)
  • Str: Kate Slatter (SA)
  • Cch: Paul Thompson (ACT)

Women's Eight – Fifth

  • Bow: Jennifer Luff (NSW)
  • 2: Georgina Douglas (VIC)
  • 3: Amy Safe (SA)
  • 4: Anna Ozlins (SA)
  • 5: Karina Weiland (ACT)
  • 6: Alison Davies (SA)
  • 7: Carmen Klomp (SA)
  • Str: Bronwyn Thompson (VIC)
  • Cox: Kaylynn Hick (ACT)
  • Cch: Brian Dalton (VIC)
  • Reserves: Angela Holbeck (ACT) & Tory Toogood (SA)

Men's Single Scull – Thirteenth

  • David Cameron (NSW)
  • Cch: Harald Jahrling (NSW)

Men's Double Scull – Eighth

  • Bow: Peter Antonie (VIC)
  • Str: Jason Day (VIC)
  • Cch: Tony Lovrich (WA)

Men's Lightweight Double Scull – Bronze

  • Bow: Anthony Edwards (VIC)
  • Str: Bruce Hick (ACT)
  • Cch: Tim McLaren (NSW)

Men's Quad Scull – Bronze

  • Bow: Janusz Hooker (NSW)
  • 2: Duncan Free (QLD)
  • 3: Ron Snook (WA)
  • Str: Bo Hansen (QLD)
  • Cch: Tim McLaren (NSW)
  • Reserve: Craig Jones (ACT)

Men's Lightweight Coxless Four – Sixth

  • Bow: Haimish Karrasch (QLD)
  • 2: David Belcher (SA)
  • 3: Gary Lynagh (QLD)
  • Str: Simon Burgess (TAS)
  • Cch: Lyall McCarthy (VIC)
  • Reserve: Darren Balmforth (TAS)

Men's Coxless Pair – Silver

  • Bow: David Weightman (QLD)
  • Str: Robert Scott (WA)
  • Cch: Harald Jahrling (NSW)

Men's Coxless Four – Gold

  • Bow: Drew Ginn (VIC)
  • 2: James Tomkins (VIC)
  • 3: Nicholas Green (VIC)
  • Str: Michael McKay (VIC)
  • Cch: Noel Donaldson (VIC)

Men's Eight – Sixth

  • Bow: Geoff Stewart (NSW)
  • 2: James Stewart (NSW)
  • 3: Robert Jahrling (NSW)
  • 4: Nicholas Porzig WA)
  • 5: Jaime Fernandez (SA)
  • 6: Ben Dodwell (VIC)
  • 7: Robert Walker (NSW)
  • Str: Richard Wearne (NSW)
  • Cox: Brett Hayman (VIC)
  • Cch: Stephen Evans (NSW)
  • Reserves: Peter Murphy (VIC) & Stuart McRae (ACT)

Head Coach: Reinhold Batschi OAM (AIS)
Manager: Andrew Guerin (VIC)
Assistant Manager & High Performance Manager of ARC: Matthew Draper
Doctor and Principal Medial Officer of ARC: Dr William Webb (NSW), with Dr David Coles and Dr Stephen Hinchy on the pre-Olympic tour.
Physiotherapist: Henry Wajswelner (VIC),
Masseur: Luke Atwell (VIC)
Psychologist: Jeff Bond (ACT)
Boatman: Paul Fitzpatrick (VIC)
Selectors: Dr David Yates (VIC) & Dr Graham Jones (NSW)
Jury: Bob Pennington (SA)


Men's Single Scull

E1: 1st SUI, 2nd SLO, 3rd AUT, 4th ITA, 5th RUS, 6th JPN
E2: 1st CAN, 2nd HUN, 3rd AUS, 4th UKR, 5th HKG
E3: 1st GER, 2nd ARG, 3rd EGY, 4th GBR, 5th EST
E4: 1st CZE, 2nd NOR, 3rd USA, 4th NZL, 5th FIN
R1: 1st SLO, 2nd GBR, 3rd AUS, 4th FIN, 5th JPN
R2: 1st NZL, 2nd EGY, 3rd HUN, 4th RUS
R3: 1st ARG, 2nd USA, 3rd ITA, 4th HKG
R4: 1st NOR, 2nd AUT, 3rd UKR, 4th EST
SF4: 1st ITA, 2nd FIN, 3rd RUS, 4th UKR
SF3: 1st AUS, 2nd HUN, 3rd EST, 4th JPN, 5th HKG
SF2: 1st SUI, 2nd CAN, 3rd NOR, 4th EGY, 5th ARG, 6th GBR
SF1: 1st GER, 2nd SLO, 3rd CZE, 4th NZL, 5th USA, 6th AUT
Final D: 19th UKR, 20th JPN, 21st HKG
Final C: 13th AUS, 14th FIN, 15th HUN, 16th RUS, 17th ITA, 18th EST
Final B: 7th NZL, 8th EGY, 9th AUT, 10th USA, 11th GBR. 12th ARG
Final: 1st SUI 6:44.85 (Xeno Mueller), 2nd CAN 6:47.45 (Derek Porter), 3rd GER 6:47.72 (Thomas Lange), 4th SLO 6:51.71, 5th CZE 6:55.65 6th NOR 6:59.51

This was a great final with Mueller winning clearly in the end after being fourth through the 1000 metre mark and third at the 1500 metre mark. It was a great race in the end for second and third between Porter and Lange after Porter had led the race until during the last 500 metres. Mueller was coached by Australian Martin Aitken as head coach of the Swiss team.

Following an excellent performance at the National Championships in March, David Cameron was selected to attempt qualification for the Games through the Lucerne regatta. He was not considered a strong chance for qualification but proved his ability by defeating former world lightweight champion Peter Haining (UK) to qualify. To his credit, he then competed well to finish 13th, an even better result.

Men's Quad Scull

E1: 1st AUS, 2nd NED, 3rd BLR, 4th FRA, 5th POL
E2: 1st ITA, 2nd USA, 3rd RUS, 4th ARG, 5th BRA
E3: 1st GER, 2nd SUI, 3rd SWE, 4th UKR
R1: 1st POL, 2nd UKR, 3rd FRA, 4th ARG, 5th BRA
SF1: 1st ITA, 2nd AUS, 3rd SUI, 4th RUS, 5th FRA, 6th BLR
SF2: 1st GER, 2nd USA, 3rd SWE, 4th NED, 5th UKR, 6th POL
Final B: 7th UKR, 8th RUS, 9th POL, 10th NED, 11th BLR, 12th FRA
Final: 1st GER 5:56.93 (Andreas Hajek, Andre Steiner, Stephen Volkert, Andre Willms), 2nd USA 5:59.10 (Jason Gailes, Brian Jamieson, Eric Mueller, Tim Young), 3rd AUS 6:01.65 (as above), 4th ITA 6:02.12, 5th SUI 6:04.52, 6th SWE 6:07.75

The selectors were proud of this selection and rated them highly. They asked our best sculling coach Tim McLaren, to look after them in addition to his responsibilities with the men's lightweight double to enhance their chances. Their faith was rewarded with a bronze medal in a strong race. It was not only a matter of congratulations for the selectors and crew, but also of the coach who had to combine four diverse athletes. It was a very satisfying result for all concerned.

Men's Lightweight Double Scull

E1: 1st NED, 2nd USA, 3rd GRE, 4th ARG, 5th SWE
E2: 1st ESP, 2nd ITA, 3rd POL, 4th IRL, 5th GBR
E3: 1st SUI, 2nd AUT, 3rd NOR, 4th CUB, 5th CZE
E4: 1st AUS, 2nd GER, 3rd JPN, 4th NZL
R1: 1st SWE, 2nd GER, 3rd IRL, 4th NOR
R2: 1st AUT, 2nd POL, 3rd ARG
R3: 1st ITA, 2nd GRE, 3rd CZE, 4th NZL
R4: 1st USA, 2nd GBR, 3rd CUB, 4th JPN
SF4: 1st NOR, 2nd CUB, 3rd ARG, 4th NZL
SF3: 1st CZE, 2nd JPN, 3rd IRL
SF2: 1st SUI, 2nd NED, 3rd AUT, 4th USA, 5th GRE, 6th GER
SF1: 1st SWE, 2nd AUS, 3rd ESP, 4th ITA, 5th GBR, 6th POL
Final C: 13th CZE, 14th NOR, 15th JPN, 16th CUB, 17th ARG
Final B: 7th POL, 8th ITA, 9th USA, 10th GRE, 11th GER, 12th GBR
Final: 1st SUI 6:23.47 (Markus Gier, Michael Gier), 2nd NED 6:26.48 Maarten van der Linden, Pepijn Aardewijn), 3rd AUS 6:26.69 (as above), 4th ESP 6:28.09, 5th AUT 6:30.85, 6th SWE 6:34.78

The Gier brothers from Switzerland were the favourites and raced superbly. The big race was for silver with only 0.2 seconds separating the crews. This crew was one of our best medal prospects and it did not disappoint with a bronze medal. With Bruce Hick, one of Australia's greatest lightweight rowers in the stroke seat, Anthony Edwards in the bow seat and Tim McLaren coaching, it was a highly technically proficient crew.

Men's Lightweight Four

E1: 1st DEN, 2nd IRL, 3rd AUS, 4th ITA, 5th GBR. 6th ARG
E2: 1st CAN, 2nd USA, 3rd RUS, 4th ESP, 5th JPN, 6th POR
E3: 1st RSA, 2nd GER, 3rd AUT, 4th SUI, 5th FRA
R1: 1st USA, 2nd AUS, 3rd SUI, 4th JPN, 5th ARG
R2: 1st IRL, 2nd GBR. 3rd AUT, 4th ESP
R3: 1st GER, 2nd ITA, 3rd FRA, 4th RUS, 5th POR
SF1: 1st DEN, 2nd AUS, 3rd IRL, 4th RSA, 5th UTA, 6th AUT
SF2: 1st USA, 2nd CAN, 3rd GER, 4th FRA, 5th GBR, 6th SUI
Final C: 13th RUS, 14th ESP, 15th POR, 16th JPN, 17th ARG
Final B: 7th FRA, 8th ITA, 9th RSA, 10th GBR, 11th SUI, 12th AUT
Final: 1st DEN 6:09.58 (Eskild Ebbesen, Victor Feddersen, Niels Hendriksen, Thomas Poulson), 2nd CAN 6:10.13 (Dave Boyes, Gavin Hassett, Jeffrey Lay, Brian Peaker), 3rd USA 6:12.29 (William Carlucci, David Collins, Jeff Pfaendtner, Marc Schneider), 4th IRL 6:13.51, 5th GER 6:14.79, 6th AUS 6:18.16

As usual, this event was very tight and hard fought. The crew bettered the 1995 result and showed its depth with a final placing. It was a great result for coach and crew.

Men's Coxless Four

E1: 1st ITA, 2nd ROM, 3rd NOR, 4th GER, 5th ARG
E2: 1st GBR, 2nd CRO, 3rd POL, 4th USA, 5th CHN
E3: 1st AUS, 2nd SLO, 3rd FRA, 4th NZL
R: 1st GER, 2nd CHN, 3rd USA, 4th NZL, 5th ARG
SF1: 1st FRA, 2nd ITA, 3rd AUD, 4th POL, 5th NOR, 6th CHN
SF2: 1st GBR, 2nd ROM, 3rd SLO, 4th POL, 5th USA, 6th GER
Final B: 7th CRO, 8th NOR, 9th GER, 10th CHN, 11th USA, 12th POL
Final: 1st AUS 6:06.37 (as above), 2nd FRA 6:07.03, 3rd GBR 6:07.28, 4th SLO 6:07.87, 5th ROM 6:08.97, 6th ITA 6:10.60

The final was a great race with 0.8 second between second and fourth placed crew and only 1.5 seconds between first and fourth. The Australians had a poor semi final leaving themselves in an outside lane. They were in third place through the 1000 metre mark and made their move in the third 500 metres. The Italians led through the 1000 metres but fell back to last in the third 500 metres. The Australians went from 3rd to first in the same area but had only the third best third 500 metre time. Then it was a sprint to the end and again the Australians had only the third fastest last 500 metre time.

Men's Eight

E1: 1st NED, 2nd CAN, 3rd AUS, 4th GBR, 5th UKR
E2: 1st USA, 2nd GER, 3rd RUS, 4th ROM, 5th ITA
R1: 1st CANB, 2nd RUS, 3rd GBR, 4th ITA
R2: 1st GER, 2nd AUS, 3rd ROM, 4th UKR
Final B: 7th ROM, 8th GBR, 9th ITA, 10th UKR
Final: 1st NED 5:42.74 (Niels van der Zwan, Niels van Steenis, Michiel Bartman, Jeroen Duyster, Tonald Florijn, Koos Maasdijk, Nico Rienks, Diedrerik Simon, Henk-Jan Zwolle), 2nd GER 5:44.58 (Roland Baar, Wolfram Huhn, Detlef Kirchhoff, Mark Kleinschmidt, Frank Richter, Thorsten Streppelhoff, peter Thiede, Ulrich Viefers, Marc Weber), 3rd RUS 5:45.77 (Nikolav Aksyonov, Anton Chermashentsev, Andrey Glukhov, Aleksandr Lukyanov, Sergey Matveyev, Pavel Melnikov, Roam Monchenko, Dmitriy Rozinkevich, Vladimir Volodenkov), 4th CAN 5:46.54, 5th USA 5:48.45, 6th AUS 5:58.82.

This event was always going to be difficult to reach the final let alone win a medal. There were some outstanding crews as the times in the final showed. The Australians raced well to make the final but were disappointed with the result. It is interesting to note that seven of the nine members of this crew won a medal in 2000. The manager's report in 1996 stated that: "Most of these athletes and coaches will be back in 2000 for a medal winning performance."

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