Rowing thrown Commonwealth Games lifeline

Rowing could still appear at future editions of the Commonwealth Games after officials here promised to continue negotiations to discuss adding it to its list of optional sports.

Under a new proposal adopted by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) at its General Assembly here yesterday, host cities must in future include 16 core sports as part of the programme and then can choose as many as they want from a list of optional sports and disciplines as long as it does not exceed a further 500 athletes.

Rowing had been on the previous list of optional sports but has now been dropped, leading to Annamarie Phelps, the chairman of British Rowing, to launch a campaign to save it.

"FISA, our International Federation, has been working closely for some years with the Commonwealth Games Sports Committee, and a number of large rowing Federations, to try and get rowing re-instated as a Commonwealth sport at the Games," she said. 

"Rowing has met all the criteria set by the CGF Sport Committee for inclusion.

"The Commonwealth Games is an excellent place for smaller nations to have the opportunity to shine, particularly those new to our sport such as the islands in the Caribbean and smaller nations like Scotland and Wales.

"The growth and development of rowing in other parts of the world such as Africa and Asia has been and could be further enhanced by the opportunity to compete at a Commonwealth event too.

"I am hugely dismayed and disappointed by the news of this proposal which is contrary to all that FISA and the NFs (National Federations) have been led to believe by the CGF over the last seven plus years.

"Retaining rowing as an optional sport would cost nothing but help us grow into a stronger sport that could realistically be included."

David Grevemberg, chief executive of the CGF, has now promised they will review the situation.

"We want to develop the formation for promotion and demotion of sports," he told insidethegames.

"We need to establish a pathway for sports.

"It is quite possible for rowing to move back up."

Rowing appeared in the very first Commonwealth Games at Hamilton in 1930.

It then appeared at four consecutive Games between 1950 and 1962 but has not been on the programme since Edinburgh 1986 when Sir Steve Redgrave won three gold medals.