5 facts that prove rowing is the most interesting sport at the Olympics


What's your favourite sport at the Olympics? After reading this, it will definitely be rowing.

As Rio draws ever closer, we're taking a look at each of the Olympic sports in turn. This week, we're hitting the water.

1. Even ducks don't get in the way of gold medals.

Henry Pearce
Australian rower Henry Pearce (EMPICS/EMPICS Sport)

Henry Pearce won gold in the single sculls at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam - despite pausing midway through his quarter-final to allow a family of ducks to pass in front of his boat.

The Australian calmly let the ducks pass and still had time to overhaul French opponent Victor Saurin and go on to take gold.

2. There was drama at the 1900 Olympics over the weight of a cox.

The men's and women's rowing eight have a cox (Alexander Hassenstein/AP)

Holland's coxed pairs team faced a crisis ahead of their 1900 Olympic final in Paris - their cox was ruled out due to putting on too much weight.

In desperation, Francois Brandt and Roelof Klein convinced a 12-year-old local boy to step in. Incredibly, they won gold.

But shortly afterwards the boy vanished, and his identity remains a mystery to this day.

3. Djibo Issaka's performance at London 2012 made waves.

Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka rests after a men's rowing single sculls semifinal
The Eddie the Eagle of rowing (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

The rower from Niger proved so inept in the 2000m single sculls event - trailing in almost a minute behind his nearest competitor - that he joined the illustrious band of nicknamed no-hopers including the likes of Eddie the Eagle and Eric the Eel.

His own moniker - Issaka the Otter - proved arguably the best of the lot.

4. The father of Princess Grace of Monaco was once banned from competing at the Henley Regatta.

Henley rowing regatta
Last year's Henley Regatta (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Rowing, elitist? Never.

American JB Kelly wasn't allowed to compete in 1919 because he had once been a bricklayer, and manual labourers were barred from competing at the event.

Not one to languish in self-pity, Kelly duly went off and won two gold medals at the following year's Antwerp Olympics.

5. Prefer to take to the water with a little less effort? You could always lobby for water motorsports to return.

motorboating olympics
Great Britain's Wolseley-Siddeley is skippered by the Duke of Westminster (S&G/S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)

Three such events were contested at the 1908 London Olympic Games. But almost all the competitors either sank or suffered engine failure and had to be towed off the course.

The Great Britain boat ran aground on a mud spit. It was the last the Olympics saw of water motorsports.