Rowing: 2004 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta

Sports Features Communications (press release), FL
June 2 2004

Rowing: 2004 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta

2004 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta

13 – 16 June, Lucerne, Switzerland

A total of 121 crews, representing 41 National Olympic Committees
(NOCs) will compete for the 32 remaining Olympic Qualification places
at Lucerne, Switzerland from 13 – 16 June 2004. The field is made
up of 312 athletes (217 men and 95 women). This regatta is the last
opportunity for crews to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Up to now 170 boats from 52 countries have qualified to race in
the Olympics. Qualification opportunities included the 2003 World
Rowing Championships held last August in Milan, Italy and the three
Continental Qualification regattas (Asian, African and Latin American)
held in April and May 2004. This final Olympic Qualification regatta
is open to crews from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the United
States and Canada as well as countries with crews wishing to qualify
in an event that was not on the programme of the Olympic Qualification
regatta held in their continent.

There could be up to six additional NOCs represented in Athens if
crews from Armenia, Belgium, Finland, Latvia, Sweden and Slovakia
qualify. A total of 85 National Federations have attempted to qualify
for the 2004 Olympic Games, up from 73 in 2000. However, under the
do-or-die qualification system, crews must finish in the top two to
four places, depending on their event.

Tim Maeyens of Belgium looks to be in qualifying shape for the men’s
single after winning bronze at the 2004 BearingPoint Rowing World Cup
in Munich last month. He will be up against 11 other scullers including
Bulgaria’s Ivo Yanakiev who finished fifth at the Sydney Olympics.

The Austrian lightweight four were World Champions in 2001 and with
only one crew change this year they are strong contenders. However
the Austrians have Munich bronze medal winners Chile to deal with.
Stroked by Miguel Cerda of pair world best time fame, the Chileans
have already beaten Austria once this season.

The Chinese women’s eight come hot off a silver medal win in Munich
where they beat current World Champions Germany and they look to
be a safe bet as two out of the three boats entered in their event
will qualify.

The draw for the heats will take place on Sunday 13 June 2004 at the
Regatta Centre, Rotsee Lake, Lucerne at 11.00hrs. Heats will start
at 17.00hrs on Sunday, repechages on Monday and finals will take
place on both Tuesday and Wednesday from 17.00hrs.