Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There are 14 Olympic rowing events, eight sculls and six sweeps. Sculling refers to the use of two oars, one in each hand. Sweep refers to the use of just one oar. The sport of rowing is one of the most physically demanding of all the Olympic events. All of the races are 2,000 meters in length, and competitors strive to generate as many powerful strokes as possible while keeping the team in unison.
Of the 550 athletes that will compete in rowing events in these Beijing Olympic Games, 350 are men.
With rowing events such as Coxless Pairs and Quadruple Sculls, just to name two, casual Olympic followers may very well be thrown off by the terminology. However, the objective of the sport is consistent across the board, to cross the finish line faster than the competition.
The United States has clearly been the dominant nation in men's rowing, capturing 80 all-time medals, including 30 gold. Great Britain has 46 medals, followed by Germany with 43 and Romania with 35.
At the 2004 Olympic Games, U.S. rowers came away with medals in both the men's and women's eights. The men's eight set a world record in the heat and then ended a 40-year, gold-medal drought by winning the final from wire-to-wire. The women's eight ended a 20-year medal drought in the event by bringing home the silver medal.
As USRowing looks towards the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the focus has turned towards winning medals in the small boats, while maintaining the success in the two eights. The 2008 squad should be deeper, with a strong mix of returning Olympians and talented newcomers.
As for women's rowing, Romania has been the powerhouse in the past, as 27 total medals are 10 more than second place East Germany. However, as a unified nation, Germany has 14 medals, so combined with the East Germany total and the two posted by West Germany, that nation actually has more medals than Romania.
The United States will send 13 rowing crews to Beijing and of the 45 athletes on the roster, ten will make a return trip to the Olympics. That includes Paul Teti and Bryan Volpenhein making their third appearances at the Summer Games. Other returning Olympians include Wyatt Allen, Anna Cummins, Caryn Davies, Michelle Guerette, Beau Hoopman, Jamie Schroeder, Patrick Todd and Mary Whipple.
Teti, who won bronze in the four at the 2008 FISA World Cup stop in Lucerne, will lead the men's four team that includes Guiseppe Lanzone, Brett Newlin and David Banks. Teti finished ninth in the lightweight four at the 2004 Olympics and was sixth in the same event in 2000, but now the eight-time senior national team member who is the younger brother of men�s coach Mike Teti and the youngest member of a family of 10, has his sights set on a possible medal.
Volpenhein was part of the gold medal-winning eight team at the Games in Athens. The Ohio State product, who will turn 32 on Aug. 18, will hope to repeat the incredible success from four years ago when he stroked the men's eight to the gold.
The U.S. women's pair consists of Cummins and Portia McGee. Four years ago, Cummins set a world record in the eights during the heats of the Olympics. Things are looking up for Cummins, as she took a bronze in the pair at the 2008 FISA World Cup stop in Lucerne.
In the women's sweep program, head coach Tom Terhaar continues to build depth for the pair and eight. Talented newcomer Caroline Lind joins a strong group of Olympic veterans, which includes Caryn Davies.
Internationally, Germany's Kathrin Boron is one to watch. She has finished worse than second only once in 16 appearances at World Championships and Olympics. At 38 years of age, Boron is still considered one of the elite female rowers in the world as she makes her fifth appearance at the Olympics. Between 1992 and 2004, she won four gold medals.
The same can be said of Yekaterina Karsten-Khodotovitch of Belarus, who won three consecutive wold titles from 2005-2007. At the 1996 Olympics, Karsten won the first goal medal in any sport for Belarus, which participated in Atlanta for the first time as an independent republic.
On the women's sculling side, Michelle Guerette, a member of the women's quadruple sculls in Athens, has moved to the single and shown early success. Guerette won a bronze medal at the 2005 World Championships and is continuing to establish herself as one of the top single scullers in the world.
On the men's sweep side, Hoopman anchors a talented athlete pool for Mike Teti. While the focus has shifted to the men's four, the eight still won gold at the 2005 World Championships. Josh Inman and Matt Schnobrich, who won the men's pair at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, are on the squad. With exceptional depth, the U.S. should be in medal contention in all three sweep events.
On the men's sculling side, head coach Kris Korzeniowski's focus also has been on developing the talent pool, which has already started to pay dividends. Led by Allen, who switched to sculling in the fall of 2004, the men's quadruple sculls crew reached the podium at the world cup stop in Lucerne, winning a bronze medal.
China has won only four all-time Olympic medals in rowing, but may be able to steal its first-ever gold medal in August. Chinese crews captures five of the 14 finals at a World Cup regatta in June in Switzerland.
07/19 01:23:45 ET