Organising the event has been a major challenge for the organising committee during the Covid-19 pandemic. Several restrictions affect organisers, athletes, officials, staff and volunteers now and over the past few months. The most recent issue happened with the regatta already underway, when on Thursday the mayor of Rio de Janeiro imposed new restrictions on staging social and sports activities as of Friday afternoon, forcing a last-minute change in the regatta schedule as sport event could not be staged on Saturday.

The Covid-19 Protection Plan was applied to all participants so the finals of the regatta could be advanced to Friday and staged safely, and athletes could adjust and concentrate on trying to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Over the space of two days, rowers progressed to earn themselves a place in the finals. The men and women single scull events offered 5 quota slots each to qualify for the Games. In the women’s race Kenia Lechuga Alanis of Mexico finished with a comfortable margin ahead of Alejandra Alonso of Paraguay and Felice Chow of Trinidad and Tobago. Lechuga had finished 12th at the Rio Olympics after an impressive race in wavy conditions in her heat and she will be joined in Tokyo – like in 2016 – by Chow. Milena Venegas Cansio of Cuba and Veronica Toro Arana of Puerto Rico, placing 4th and 5th respectively in the final, will be first-time Olympians in Tokyo. Closing with the sixth place in the final was Maria Sol Ordas of Argentina.

In the men’s single sculls, Lucas Ferreira of Brazil, who has been successful in the under-23 category, punched his ticket to Tokyo by winning his final with a commanding performance.  He was chased to the line by Chile’s Felipe Cardenas Morales, finishing in second place ahead of Axel Haack of Argentina, third.

Placing 4th and 5th respectively were Martin Zocalo of Uruguay and Alvaro Torres Masias of Peru. Sixth in the A final was the Cuban Carlos Ajete Jauregui. All but one Olympic qualifying spot for the men’s single sculls are confirmed according to the qualification rules for continental regattas: they are Lucas Ferreira of Brazil, Alvaro Torres Masias of Peru, Dara Alizadeh of Bermuda and Felix Damian Potoy of Nicaragua, both qualifying from the B final.

The lightweight double sculls contained three qualifying spots each. In the men’s final the first one went to Felipe Kluver and Bruno Cetraro of Uruguay who finished first just a second ahead of Cesar Abaroa and Eber Sanhueza Rojas of Chile. Third were Brazil (Evaldo Becker Morais – Emanuel Dantas Borges) ahead of Mexico (Miguel Carballo Nieto – Rafael Mejia Gutierrez) and Argentina (Alejandro Colomino- Carlo Lauro). The final was closed by Venezuela in sixth place (Jose Guipe Jimenez- Cesar Amaris Fernandez). At this point Uruguay and Venezuela have their qualification confirmed.

In the lightweight women’s double sculls, Argentina’s Evelyn Silvestro and Milka Kraljev’s leadership was never in doubt, and they won the final securing their Olympic qualification   for Tokyo. Kraljev, who became a mother, will compete in her third Olympics. Second in this race was Brazil (Isabelle Camargos – Vanessa Cozzi), ahead of Chile (Yoselin Carcamo Ponce – Isidora Niemeyer) and Mexico (Aylin Ibarra Maduena – Fabiola Nunez Zurita). Finishing off in 5th and 6th place were Peru (Pamela Noya – Camila Valle Granados) and Guatemala (Yulisa Lopez Guerra – Jenniffer Zuniga). The second Olympic ticket available will go to Guatemala.

There was one qualifying spot available for each of the two PR1 single sculls. Argentina won the final in both the men’s event (with Alejandro Magno Vera), and the women’s event (with Brenda Sardon). Both athletes have achieved a qualifying position but, as only one qualification is available for a single National Paralympic Committee, this will now have to be confirmed by a decision of the Argentine’s National Paralympic Committee.

In the men’s PR1 event, second placed was the Mexican Michel Munoz Malagon, third was Manuel Ober Colobon Bone of Ecuador, 4th was Jose Duarte Servin of Paraguay, and closing the ranking was Uruguay’s Mauro Artigas Daveri Medina.

In the women’s race the other participant was Daniela Sanchez Bohorquez of Mexico, at her first participation in an international competition, finishing in second place.

Any remaining athlete still seeking qualification will need to go through the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland in May or the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Gavirate, Italy in June.

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