PHOTO BY ADAM REIST
USRowing has announced the end of youth lightweight racing at USRowing-run regattas.
The announcement comes after years of debate over whether or not it is safe for youth athletes to manage their weight.
“While we understand this may be disappointing to some, the health and well-being of our youth athletes is our primary concern,” read the USRowing release. “As we thoroughly considered the subject, the health risks of managing weight for developing adolescents is a dangerous practice that we cannot support. Most international rowing federations, including World Rowing, do not offer youth lightweight events at their championships. Beginning in 2022, this will be USRowing’s policy as well.”
The policy affects several major regattas including the USRowing Youth National Championships and USRowing’s Youth Regional Championships.
It also changes the rules for coxswains completely removing the requirement for coxswains to weigh in and carry supplemental weight should they not make minimum weight at youth events. As USRowing points out, the move removes scales from USRowing-hosted youth regattas entirely.
The release goes on to state that USRowing will focus on grouping athletes by age and expanding categories based on that metric—rather than weight—citing the protocol established in 2020 which “showed that nearly 75 percent of lightweight participants fell into the under 17 age category” as the catalyst for the decision.
“In 2021, we introduced several U17 events to the USRowing Youth National Regatta, and we will be formally integrating both U17 and U15 opportunities into the national and regional regattas in 2022. More information on specific offerings will be available soon,” read the release.
Lightweight rowing is not completely banned, however, with the frequently asked questions section of the statement including details on instances when youth lightweight rowing might take place.
“USRowing will continue to sanction youth lightweight events for regatta organizers who choose to include youth lightweight categories. However, it is our strong recommendation that a robust lightweight protocol is created under the guidance of medical experts to ensure lightweight athletes are natural lightweights.”
Read the full release here.