Canadian men's rowing eight misses Olympic berth by heartbreaking margin

LUCERNE — Canada came agonizingly close to adding to its Paris-bound rowing team in Tuesday's last-chance qualifier, but will have just two boats entered in Olympic rowing.

The men's eight needed to finish in the top two in Lucerne, Switzerland, but placed third in a photo finish by one hundredth of a second to runner-up Italy, which qualified alongside winner United States.

Canada also finished third in the women's quadruple sculls behind the U.S. and Ukraine. The Canadians were just over a second back of the runner-up Ukrainians.

"We recognize how difficult and disheartening this result is for our athletes, especially given the immense dedication and hard work they’ve put into their training," Rowing Canada's high-performance director Adam Parfitt said in a statement.

"It’s incredibly tough to not see those efforts translate into the results we all hoped for, however, we remain confident in this group of athletes and are committed to supporting them as we rebuild and look ahead to future successes.”

Canada entered 10 boats in Tokyo's 2021 Summer Olympics for the country's largest rowing contingent since 10 competed in 1996.

A men's eight hasn't qualified for an Olympic Games since winning a silver medal in London in 2012. No Canadian will compete in men's rowing in Paris.

"We recognize that there is a gap specific to men’s rowing in Canada that needs to be addressed," Parfitt said. "I feel confident that, in collaboration with our partners across the country, we can reinvigorate this pipeline.

"This is certainly a priority for us moving forward into the next Olympic quadrennial.”

The Canadian women's eight, which is the reigning Olympic champion, and the women's lightweight double of Jill Moffatt and Jennifer Casson will wear the Maple Leaf in Paris.

They will compete in a World Cup in Lucerne from Friday to Sunday in an international Olympic tune-up.

The women's eight and Moffatt, of Bethany, Ont., and Casson, of Kingston, Ont., qualified for Paris at last year's world championship in Belgrade, Serbia.

Moffatt and Casson placed fourth and the women's eight fifth.

Tuesday's para women's single sculls winner qualified for the Paralympic Games in Paris. Christa Akins of Kelowna, B.C., finished fifth.

Mukhayyo Abdusattarova of Uzbekistan won the race, but a protest was lodged over her ability classification. The Paralympic berth allocation was postponed.

Jacob Wasserman of Humboldt, Sask., has already qualified to race the men's para single sculls in Paris.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press