2019 World Rowing Junior Championships, Tokyo, Japan
2019 World Rowing Junior Championships, Tokyo, Japan

More than 75 athletes have arrived in Tokyo, Japan as the World Rowing Asia and Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta is about to get underway. Tricky wind and weather conditions have descended on the Olympic regatta course, the Sea Forest Waterway. But after more than a year without racing, the athletes are eager to get started.

Racing is due to take place from 5 – 7 May 2021 and any updates will be on the World Rowing event page.

Organisers say that despite the tight COVID-19 restrictions and wind conditions, athletes are making the most out of their opportunity to race and to secure a spot for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

There are six boat classes contesting the qualification regatta in Tokyo: the men’s and women’s single sculls, lightweight double sculls and para PR1 single sculls.

The men’s single sculls has drawn the largest entry with 17 athletes set to compete. There are five qualification spots available and racing will be fierce. Three of the 17 scullers competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with Indonesia’s Memo Memo posting the best result, 16th overall. Memo last competed internationally in 2017 when he finished ninth in the men’s double sculls at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships.

Watch out too for India’s Jakar Khan. Khan beat out Dattu Bhokanal, who was 13th in Rio, for the chance to qualify the boat in Tokyo. Keep an eye too on Japan’s Ryuta Arakawa, he had a solid performance in the men’s double at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and has the advantage of competing at home.

In the women’s single sculls, all eyes will be on Tawain’s Yi-Ting Huang. She finished 17th at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and looks on track to qualify in Tokyo. Watch out too for Kazakhstan’s Svetlana Germanovich. She was just behind Huang at the 2019 World Championships and also competed at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. And keep an eye on Singapore’s Joan Poh. You can read more about Poh’s preparation here.

With just one qualifying spot for each the men’s and women’s PR1 single sculls, the stakes are high. Two boats are contesting the women’s category: Japan and Sri Lanka. On paper the crew to beat is Japan’s Tomomi Ichikawa. Ichikawa came 14th at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and will be competing on home water.

In the men’s para PR1 single sculls, three of the four contestants are making their international debut. Sri Lanka’s Mahesh Jayakodi has the most international experience, which may benefit him come race day.

The lightweight doubles have drawn slightly larger entries, with the women’s lightweight double sculls having 12 entries compared to nine for the men’s. Japan has boated their successful 2016 combination of Chiaki Tomita and Ayami Oishi. After winning at the Asian Qualification Regatta in 2016, the duo went on to finish 13th in Rio. More recently, Tomita claimed silver in the lightweight single sculls at the 2019 World Rowing Championships. They will face fierce competition from an experienced field, including the double from Vietnam who finished fifth in the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls back in 2019.

The crew to beat in the lightweight men’s double sculls might just be Hong Kong. They have the most experience of the field, but have not recently raced together. Watch out too for the young crew from Uzbekistan. And don’t forget about India. They have put together a new line-up, but have had an extra year to train together.

Here’s how to follow this week’s racing:

  1. The start lists and results are available here: https://www.jara.or.jp/eng/index.html
  2. The event will be live streamed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWmsHNcQ2PE&ab_channel=JARAChannel
  3. World Rowing will publish photos and information across all social media platforms, follow us on Facebook,  InstagramTwitter
  4. More information can be found via worldrowing.com