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19 Μαΐου 2010

Rowing World Cup in Bled, Slovenia - 28 - 30 May 2010

Rowing—one of the most important sports in Slovenia’s history

A brief history of Slovenian rowing

The beginnings of rowing in Slovenia go back to the year 1887 when the first rowing club was founded in the coastal town of Piran/Pirano, Club Piranese Salvore. Only a year later the S.C.Libertas was founded in the nearby Koper/Capodistria. Competitive rowing later emerged in the capital Ljubljana as well as Bled.
The Slovenian rowing tradition has been crowned with many top internationally recognized achievements ranging from gold medals in the Olympic Games and World Championships to the organization of successful and acclaimed World and European Championships on Lake Bled.
The first success in the Olympic Games dates back to 1928 when four members of the rowing club Pullina from Izola/Isola d’Istria won gold in Amsterdam when competing for Italy in that time. Similarly, a coxed four from S.C. Libertas from Koper/Capodistria won silver for Italy in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
From 1945 up to Slovenia’s independence in 1991, Slovenian rowers successfully represented Yugoslavia. They have won a total of three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals in the World Rowing Junior Championships. At the elite level they captured one silver and two bronze medals at the World Rowing Championships and one bronze at the 1988 Olympics.
Even more medals followed after independence in 1991: a total of seven gold, five silver and six bronze medals at the World Rowing Junior Championships, four gold, four silver and four bronze medals at the World Rowing Championships as well as one gold, one silver and two bronze Olympic medals. That brings the tally up to 24 medals in top competitions on the junior level and 20 in the elite categories, including the Olympic Games.
Rowers were also the first athletes to win medals for independent Slovenia at the World Rowing Championships in Vienna in 1991 and at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, thereby spreading the reputation of Slovenian sports and affirming the new country around the world. Despite the relatively small number of rowers in Slovenia, they have won international fame as individuals as well as teams. The most prominent figures are undoubtedly Iztok Čop and Luka Špik. Čop (in the coxless pair with Denis Žvegelj) was one of the 1992 Olympic heroes, who later won the World Rowing Championships title in the single sculls in 1995 and in 2000
together with Luka Špik - added the Olympic gold. He has been awarded the title of the most successful Slovenian athlete in recent history.
In 2005 Bled celebrated the centenary of the first rowing competition on Lake Bled. The first major regatta on the lake was the Yugoslav national championship in 1930, and the first international regatta was held there in 1950. The only international competitors in 1950 came from Austria. Later, they were joined by teams from West Germany and other countries. The annual international regatta at Bled started to gain recognition each year and now hosts teams from 12 countries on average—both smaller club teams and major national teams - with around 700 competitors.

Due to the excellent organization, and to the fact that Bled has one of the most beautiful courses in the world with equal conditions for all competitors, the annual Bled regatta has been included in FISA’s list of international regattas. The first major rowing competition was held in 1956 when Bled hosted the European Rowing Championships. This event included competitors from 22 countries in the men’s categories and 13 countries in the women’s categories. In 1966, FISA entrusted Bled with the organization of the second ever World Rowing Championships. At that time the competitors were only men, and they came from 31 countries. Later on Bled hosted two more World Rowing Championships, in 1979 and 1989. The 1979 World Rowing Championships saw a record number of competitors up to that point—924 from 34 countries. The first part of the competition was reserved for women and lightweight men, whereas the second part was dedicated to men only. Another interesting fact is that women still competed over a distance of 1,000 meters at that time. The 1989 World Rowing Championships saw the extension of women’s course to 2,000 meters following the FISA decisions in 1985. Two more categories were added to the competition: the women’s coxless four, and the quadruple scull for lightweight men. The Championships will also be remembered for the FISA congress at which Mr. Denis Oswald was elected the President of FISA. The second ever World Rowing Junior Championships in 1971 were also organized successfully in Bled.
The organization of regattas of the highest level prompted the formation of the Bled Rowing Centre, which is also the seat of the national rowing federation of Slovenia. Whereas the first buildings were constructed as early as 1930, the centre actually started developing in 1955 with the construction of the boathouse. All the following championships contributed to the expansion of both the sports facilities at the centre and the tourist facilities. As we prepare for the 2011 World Rowing Championships, the rowing centre is being upgraded to meet the standards of the event and to improve the training conditions for both the national and international athletes.

Rowing World Cup, 28 - 30 May 2010

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