The Best Olympic Rowers of All Time

Many people don't know that rowing was one of the first major Olympic sports. And although there have been many changes made to other sports over the years, rowing remains much the same. 

While the techniques remain the same, the rowing competitions can vary from place to place. Time trials, bump racing, endurance events, stake racing, and the Olympic side-by-side style are some of the different types of rowing races. 


There have been many athletes whose achievements have lifted them to the upper echelons of the rowing sport. They have also helped advance the sport as a whole. Let's look back at the greatest Olympic rowers of all time.

The Best Olympic Rowers of All Time
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Elisabeta Lipă

A retired rower, Elisabeta Lipă is the most awarded rower in Olympic history, earning five gold, two silver, and one bronze medal. For the most years between gold medals, at 20 years, she holds the record among rowers.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, Lipă debuted at the age of 19, earning her first gold medal in the double sculls competition. She won her most current gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.


She is the only individual in the two top-ranked rowing events - single scull and the eight - to win gold. In a sculling (two oars per person) and a sweep (one oar per person) event, she is also one of the so few females to snatch a gold medal.

She became the first woman rower to compete in six Olympics in 2004. Since 2004, Lipă served in many public offices specifically in 2015-2017 under the Minister of Youth and Sport under Dacian Ciolos.

Georgeta Damian

Georgeta Damian is a Romanian female rower who is a winner of five Olympic gold medals. She rowed in the  Romanian Women's eight, winning the 1997, 1998, and 1999 World Rowing Championships.


She also won the 2000 Summer Olympics in the women's pairs. She won the World Championships in pairs in 2001 and 2002 with Viorica Susanu and gained gold medals in both pairs and eights at the 2004 Summer Olympics. 

She brought the bacon home in the women's pairs with Susanu and bronze in the eights at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Sir Steven Geoffrey Redgrave

Redgrave is a retired British rower who, from 1984 to 2000, did win gold medals at five successive Olympic Games, and as well as a bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics. 

He stated right after winning the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal that if someone found him close to a rowing boat again, he can be shot by anyone. However, fairly soon, he retracted his statement and continued training after a four-month break.

He won his fifth Olympic Gold Medal in a row in 2000 and retired from the sport. He was also presented with a gold Olympic pin at the medal ceremony after the 2000 Summer Olympics by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch in acknowledgment of his achievements.

Kathrin Boron

Kathrin Boron is a German sculler and a four-time gold medalist at the Olympics. She's an SV Dynamo/SG Dynamo Potsdam athlete. With the 2009 Thomas Keller Medal, she was recognized for her excellent career in rowing.

Boron won the women's double sculls with Kerstin Köppen at the 1992 Summer Olympics and Jana Thieme at the 2000 Summer Olympics. At the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics, she was also successful in the women's quad sculls.

She ended up third in the quad sculls at the 2008 Summer Olympics. In addition, Boron won seven Gold Medals and five Silver World Championships, beginning in 1990 with gold in the double sculls at Tasmania.

Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford was a British rower who won five medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. Not until 2000, when Sir Steve Redgrave won his sixth Olympic medal at his fifth Olympic Games, was this record in Olympic rowing matched.

Beresford was also a rower who won a silver Olympic rowing medal at the 1912 Summer Olympics and won Henley multiple times. In 1920, he won the Diamond Challenge Sculls, the Henley Royal Regatta single sculls event, beating Donald Gollan in the final.

The Best Olympic Rowers of All Time
Image Source: Tokyo 2020


Lipă, who won eight medals (5 gold) between 1984-2000, is the top-performing rower of all time at the Olympic Games. Redgrave is also the top-ranking male, with five gold medals. 

The achievements of the above athletes have helped the sport of rowing hold onto its popularity at the Olympics while other sports have gone by the wayside.

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