In 2001, the International Rowing Federation (FISA, in French) negotiated with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to include the sport in the Games programme. A year later, in Spain, seven countries took part on the first World Rowing Championship for the Disabled, and a memorandum of commitment was signed for the creation of rules and regulations for the new sport.
The 2004 World Championship was attended by 24 countries and, four years later, Rowing became part of the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. One of the IPC requirements was that the boats and equipment should be adapted so that people with disabilities could compete safely.
This demand gave rise to the term “adaptive rowing” – which means that the equipment is modified according to the rowers’ needs. And to avoid technological doping, the use of prosthetics and orthotics is limited during the competition.
The boats’ crews have one, two or four athletes who have different kinds of disabilities. The rowers are classified based on the members used to propel the boat: there is a category for those who use only their arms, identified by the letter A (arms) and one called TA (trunk and arms) for athletes who use their arms and trunk.
As well as these categories, there is another for those who use their legs, trunk and arms, identified as LTA (legs, trunk and arms), which also includes people with visual disabilities - these must always wear glasses or masks covering their eyes during the events, regardless of their visual category (as in Goalball, so that no athlete is disadvantaged).
In the Four plus Coxswain events, crew composition is mixed, including people who have physical and visual disabilities, but only one B3 (person with greater residual vision). The coxswain does not have to be a disabled person, since he is only a guide, as in Athletics races.
Paralympic rowing events are always raced over a distance of 1,000 metres, regardless of the category. And the objective is the same as in the conventional sport: to row the distance in a straight buoyed lane in the shortest time possible.