Rio Olympic venue legacy continues

The Rio de Janeiro State Rowing Federation (FRERJ) in Brazil is now established at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, the venue that staged rowing and canoe-kayak sprint at the 2016 Olympic Games as well as para-rowing during the 2016 Paralympic Games.

The Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro has seen the most success in the sport of rowing nation-wide, with its clubs winning 19 of 20 events at the latest Brazilian Rowing Championships.

The FRERJ is now established at the former Olympic venue, complete with its state-of-the art infrastructure. “Our intention,” says Technical Manager Marcelo Neves dos Santos, "is to cover a wide range of activities always aimed at the development of rowing and more specifically for the identification, development and improvement of the rowing athlete, not forgetting also the qualification of coaches and technical professionals that will take care of these athletes.”

Partnership with rowing clubs and institutions is of crucial importance, points out Neves, as the FRERJ is aiming to provide them with scientific and technological support. The federation thereby hopes to become a reference in the sport of rowing throughout Brazil and Latin America.

The training centre is divided into three areas: technical, administrative and scientific/academic. It has also partially recruited an interdisciplinary team which will consist of two coaches, a doctor, a physiotherapist, a nutritionist, a dentist, a gym trainer, a psychologist, a biomechanic and a physiologist.

Until now, all people involved in this project are volunteers. “We are looking for partners to change this situation into a professional one,” says Neves. “For example, the dentist is a retired rower and he put all of his equipment to set up a dental office. This is the same situation as our doctor, physiotherapist and nutritionist - all of them are retired rowers that are offering part of their time to the improvement of our sport.”

Thanks to its partnership with the Applied Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the Fluminense Federal University, the FRERJ benefits from access to specialised equipment and professionals who are available to share their knowledge in various areas such as talent identification, exercise physiology, nutrition, biomechanical analysis, physiotherapy, as well as physical testing and evaluation.

The centre receives the support of the Rio de Janeiro state government which owns the site and maintains it. The Brazilian Minister of Sport, Leonardo Picciani, and the Brazilian General Secretary of Sport, Luiz Lima, as well as other authorities, were present at the inauguration of the centre a few weeks ago.

In addition to providing training and services to athletes and rowing sport professionals, the centre has also become involved in social inclusion projects aimed at children and teenagers attending schools in the surroundings. Through its joint work with the Brazilian Benefit Rehabilitation Association, the centre also uses para-rowing as a tool to help reintegrate patients with physical disabilities into society.

And recognising the need for on-going efforts to keep the lagoon waters clean, the FRERJ believes that it has a responsibility to apply sustainability practices within its rowing environment. This is why the FRERJ has launched the “Row to Preserve” project, the objective of which is to educate children and teenagers in the surrounding public schools, helping them become environmentally aware and understand how they can play a part in positively transforming their environment.

With its ideal location in the vicinity of Rio’s Copacabana and Ipanema neighbourhoods close to both the domestic and international airports, the federation is eager to continue placing the Rio Olympic venue at the disposal of the national and international rowing community for training camps. Teams will be given the opportunity to train on one of the most breath-taking rowing stages in the world, will benefit from access to modern sports facilities and year-round favourable weather conditions.

“The venue and the opportunity for Rio is invaluable and this legacy project is really something that we would like to be a part of along with the Brazilian Olympic Committee,” comments Sheila Stephens Desbans, FISA Development Director. “We have had several meetings with the Brazilian Olympic Committee to discuss next steps and making sure we are working with the local community, the State Confederation for Rowing and the National Federation. We believe that we have some very exciting opportunities with international training camps and regattas.”

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