Aifric Keogh (b), Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh, EMILY Hegarty (s), Women's Four, Ireland, 2021 World Rowing Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, Lucerne, Switzerland / Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com

The long anticipated Final Olympic Qualification Regatta was completed today, one day earlier than originally scheduled, due the forecasted arrival of difficult weather conditions. Rowers have been waiting for over a year to prove to the world that they deserved to become Olympians and go to Tokyo. Despite the rush to finish the races ahead of the storm, all races were successfully concluded and eighteen countries earned qualification places.

The win by Estonia in the men’s quadruple sculls means rowing legend Tonu Endrekson is off to his fifth Olympic Games. The Estonians went up against a tough field including Russia, Lithuania and Romania. A patient race saw them pass the Russians in the final sprint to secure the win. Russia claimed the second qualification spot.

Russia also won qualification places in the women’s pair, women’s double sculls, men’s double sculls and men’s single sculls. The men’s single was the most hotly contested event in Lucerne with 23 single scullers vying for just two places. Alexander Vyazovkin from Russia took an early lead in the Final while Canada’s Trevor Jones and Polish Olympian Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk tried to keep in touch. It was the 23-year-old Jones who sprinted successfully at the finish just behind Vyazovkin to take the second qualification place for his first Olympic appearance. That helped round out the Canadian three-boat success. Canada also qualified their men’s four and lightweight men’s double sculls.

The lightweight women’s double sculls was the only boat class with three qualification slots, due to an empty spot following the Americas Continental Qualification Regatta. The final was one of the closest races of the day. The United States managed to hold off challenges from Switzerland and Ireland coming into the final stage of the race. This was the only qualification success for both the United States and Switzerland at the regatta.

Romania found triumph in both the men’s and women’s eight to increase their Olympic delegation size substantially. But they did not win in either category. China came to Lucerne with a new line-up in the women’s eight and showed their potential by dominating the race. On the men’s side, New Zealand’s eight was filled with big names including double Olympic Champion Hamish Bond. It paid off as the Kiwis finished first to claim their ticket to Tokyo.

A truly global success today as all five continents were represented on the Victory Pontoon after South Africa won the Men’s Four. All of the qualified boats will now need to be confirmed by their respective National Olympic Committees.

The event was successfully organised by the volunteers of the Lucerne Regatta Association who met all the challenges presented by the coronavirus measures and the changes in schedule due to weather. The organisers are now turning their attention to the World Rowing Cup II which will be staged in Lucerne at the end of the week.

All regatta information can be found here including race reports, results and photos.

A full explanation of the qualification process can be found here.