Set for Shunyi
competition uniform in national colours,
check. Toothbrush, check. chop sticks,
check. sun visor, check. water bottle,
check. extra water bottle, check. extra
spare water bottle, check.
impact of the local environmental conditions
on the rowers. Steinacker recommended
pre-Games preparation to counter these
factors – specifically acclimatisation in a
similar tropical climate. While at the Games
Steinacker recommends that the athletes
stay in the shade, cover up, keep cool and
drink plenty of water – up to six litres a day.
from the South just after mid-day. As we are
Northeast of Beijing, we do not expect to
receive air from the city centre,” says Smith.
Preparing to compete at the Beijing Olympics
means taking into account the unique
environmental conditions of China’s capital
city. The eight days of rowing in the first week
of the Olympics will take place at the Shunyi
Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. The Park
is situated about 40 minutes Northeast of
Beijing City and has been built from scratch
in an area that was previously farmland.
To take advantage of the best and fairest
racing conditions, the rowing events will be
held in the afternoon when the wind is more
stable and fair. The afternoon, however, is still
in the heat of the day.
The 162-hectare park has been planted with
more than 5,000 trees. At least 400,000 square
metres of lawn has been added. In November
2006, 1.7 cubic metres of water were pumped
into the 2,000-metre rowing course.
Steinacker noted at the test event that, after
a week, many of the junior athletes had
developed a dry cough or rhinitis. This could
have been caused by the fine dust created by
the many construction sites around Beijing as
well as combustion and car fumes. On top of
this, August in Beijing experiences very little
wind so pollution is not readily dispersed,
and the nature of Beijing’s topography –
surrounded by hills – restricts the venting
of some pollution. It is said that the British
Olympic team will be issued with face masks
that have a mouthpiece and a filter.
Some countries will issue their rowers with
cooling jackets, similar to those used during
the Athens Olympics. These jackets are
designed to quickly bring body temperatures
back to normal levels after training and
racing. Steinacker has also recommended for
athletes not to train during the heat of the
day – between 11am and 3pm.
August in Beijing means preparing for
temperatures in the mid-30 degrees Celsius
with humidity of around 94 per cent in the
morning. Dr. Juergen Steinacker of FISA’s
Sports Medicine Commission was at Shunyi for
rowing’s Olympic test event, the 2007 World
Rowing Junior Championships, to assess the
During the Olympics FISA will be closely
monitoring the humidity, air temperature and
solar radiation in order to ensure that racing
does not take place in extreme conditions.
FISA’s Executive Director Matt Smith has made
several visits to the Shunyi course since year
2000 and has praised the developments. He
has also looked into air quality. “The prevailing
wind starts the morning from the North and
then turns to the East while finally settling
To read more of Steinacker’s report go
to: www.worldrowing.com -> Events ->
Olympics. ■ M.S.B.