the year was 2008. the Paralympic Games in Beijing had finished. twenty-four adaptive rowers and three
coxswains had made history by being the first ever athletes to receive medals at the Paralympic rowing regatta.
Rather than easing onto the Paralympic
scene, the winning adaptive rowers took the
Games by storm. Arms only single sculler
(AW1x) Helene Raynsford of Great Britain
not only took gold in the Final, but also set
a new World Best Time in her heat. More
astoundingly Raynsford achieved this record
in slight head wind conditions. Raynsford is
part of a new group of adaptive rowers who
have been in the sport a relatively short time,
but have redefined the standard.
swain Alessandro Franzetti will remember
Beijing. Their win in the legs, trunk and arms
mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+) was achieved
with such a comfortable lead that Franzetti did
not have to push his crew in the final sprint.
The new standard demonstrated at Beijing
saw the end of some of the pioneer leaders
in adaptive rowing. World Champions fell and
new blood ploughed on through.
Great Britain ruled the men’s arms only single
sculls (AM1x). Tom Aggar, who became World
Champion in his first year of international
competition in 2007, was pushed relentlessly
by Oleksandr Petrenko of Ukraine, but Aggar
came through to gold in the final sprint.
Aggar’s win helped push his country into the
top spot overall at the regatta.
Kathrin Wolff of Germany carries
her oars at Shunyi Olympic
Rowing-Canoeing Park during
day two of the Paralympic
Rowing Regatta in Beijing,
Host nation China came into their own in the
trunk and arms mixed double sculls ( TAMix2x).
Yangjing Zhou and Zilong Shan are in their
second year of competition and moved up
from qualifying their boat last year in seventh
position to taking Paralympic gold this year.
At the Shunyi Olympic regatta course the
Beijing organisers ensured a flawless regatta:
the 1000m start line was equipped with a
floating dock, a large crowd of mainly Chinese
supporters created the perfect Paralympic
atmosphere, and boat houses and launching
pontoons were designed for trouble-free use
by the adaptive rowers.
Italians Paola Protopapa, Luca Agoletto,
Daniele Signore, Graziana Saccocci and cox-