One of the key criteria for rowing
to qualify as a Paralympic sport is
to have crews from 24 National
Federations competing at the
2004 World Championships in
José Nunes, Chairman of FISA’s
Adaptive Rowing Commission, and his
commission are remarkably active in
promoting the development of adaptive
rowing around the world.
In a recent interview, José was posed the
following questions about the
Paralympic qualification process.
Photo: © Deltev Seyb
Member of US team, Seville World Championships 2002 / Membre
de l’équipage américain, Championnats du Monde 2002 à Séville
FISA: Why do you think it is important
for adaptive rowing to become a
José Nunes: In our day and age, a sport
should be a part of all major global
events. Rowing is no exception.
The universality of rowing would be
enhanced as a Paralympic sport. Sport
opportunities in emerging nations would
be promoted. Indeed, IPC and IOC
demographics are complimentary.
Countries such as China, South Korea,
Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Angola,
Mexico and Brazil have a very strong
Paralympic structure. Other developing
countries have a stronger Paralympic
structure than Olympic structure. So,
only with a Paralympic / Olympic sport
approach will rowing be able to fully
FISA: There are 28 summer Olympic
sports – how many Paralympic?
José: There are currently 20 summer
Paralympic sports, with a total limit of
22. Rowing would become the 21st
summer Paralympic sport.
FISA: Can you briefly describe the
adaptive boat classes?
José: Every boat class combines gender
and types of disability, giving
opportunity to all levels of disability
and making adaptive rowing a gender
The classes are divided according to
rowing functionality. 4+LTA: coxed four
event for mixed male and female rowers
able to use their legs, trunk and arms.
2x TA: double scull event for mixed male
and female rowers with trunk and arm
ability but without leg drive. 1xA: single
scull event for rowers with arm
functionality only, that is no body swing
or leg drive.
FISA: To qualify rowing for the 2008
Paralympics in Beijing, adaptive teams
from 24 National Federations will need to
compete at the 2004 World Championships.
Is it realistic to expect that?
José: Yes, it is. In total, 12 nations have
competed in adaptive events at the World
Rowing Championships, with seven
crews in 2002 and eleven crews in 2003.
Thirty-six National Federations signed
the “FISA Adaptive Seville Protocol” in
2002, all agreeing to enter adaptive
crews in World Championships by 2004.
Six more have signed since. If they have
made a commitment to enter crews, they
should be able to.
FISA: What are some major challenges
to the development of adaptive rowing?
José: The way it is perceived. Adaptive
rowing should simply be perceived as
rowing. And for rowing, all you need to
row is water and a boat!
FISA: What can be done to overcome
José: FISA has designed a standard
adaptive boat mould in collaboration with
boat building consultant Klaus Filter with
the partnership of a Chinese-based boatbuilder Flying Eagle. A FISA standard
fixed seat designed by Larry Lonergan is
now also available. With no royalties due,
National Federations should be able to
provide clubs and regatta courses with
quality, competitive and easy-to-use boats
at low cost. Athletes will not need to
travel with their own equipment. It will
be available on site. FISA is leading the
way with a mobile adaptive rowing
container: six 4+LTA boats, six 2x TA
boats and six single boats can be shipped
from one FISA adaptive event to another.
FISA: What about safety?
José: The standardized adaptive
equipment meets all FISA safety
requirements, of course.
FISA: What is the current state of
adaptive indoor rowing?
José: Indoor rowing is a major aspect of
adaptive rowing, as some people are simply
unable to row on water for many temporary
or permanent reasons. For them, indoor
rowing is just rowing!
FISA: How can a person become
involved in adaptive rowing?
José: If you are a rower and you know a
person who has an impairment, invite
him/her to go to your club, school or
gym and try your sport. You are in the
right position to help him/her create an
If you want to become involved, ask a
family member or a friend to drive you
to a rowing school or a rowing club.
There you will meet a coach and other
rowers. The coach will then guide you to
a rowing ergometer, a rowing tank or a
boat when the water is calm and is not
too cold. After the session, evaluate the
impact of your impairment on your
coach, family and friends. The next step
is to develop basic and low-cost
technical aids. Now, you are ready to
start your learning rowing process.
Photo: © 2003 canottaggio.com
Adaptive rowing boats / Bateaux pour aviron adapté