Sport Oars packed, Australian rowers ready for Olympic regatta with 38-strong team

Oars packed, Australian rowers ready for Olympic regatta with 38-strong team

Rio silver medallists Alexander Hill (left) and Joshua Booth (second from left) are in the team again for Tokyo. Photo: AAP
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Australian rowers will provide a show of force in Tokyo with a much larger presence than the Rio Olympics team, including 29 new faces.

The Games debutants were among a 38-strong Australian rowing team named on Sunday for the Olympics starting on July 23.

With the men’s eight competing, there are 12 more rowers than in Rio, where Australia finished with a gold and two silver medals.

The women’s eight were called in late for the 2016 Olympics with little training when Russia was disqualified, but the current squad are a medal chance.

Rowing Australia performance director Bernard Savage expected the group would make an impact on their international rivals before they even took to the water.

“Qualifying both eights, and all sweep boats, is a really strong reflection on the depth and quality of the athletes in the program,” he told AAP.

“Not only do we have all boats qualified but they’re super competitive as well.

“I’ve done three Olympics in swimming and I know that when the swimming team walked on the pool deck there was a presence about them.

“This group, with the sheer size, the depth and quality of athlete, it’s going to be like that when we walk in the boat park en masse … people are going to take notice.”

Eight rowers will compete at their second Games while stalwart Joshua Booth will contest his third Olympics.

Booth and Alexander Hill, who won a silver medal in the men’s four at the 2016 Rio Games, return with men’s quad silver medallist from Rio, Cameron Girdlestone.

Hill was bullish about Australia’s prospects of another men’s four medal in Tokyo.

“The last 12 months has taught us to be resilient as a team,” Hill said.

“We have worked hard to ensure we’re the best we can be … I’m excited to not only see what we can do as a four, but also to see what the entire Australian Olympic rowing team can do.”

Nine Australian boats – six sweep boats and three sculling crews – have qualified, with the team boasting more than 135 World Rowing Cup medals.

The debutants include Rosie Popa, whose parents Sue Chapman-Popa and Ion Popa won medals at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 – Sue claimed bronze in the women’s coxed four and Ion a bronze in the men’s eight.