Sir: Regarding Keith Elliott At Large (26 February), rowing is a very demanding sport, in terms of physiology it is comparable to middle-distance running. The fitness and power required for such intense races is not comparable to tennis and Mr Elliott's comparison of lightweight rowing to tennis for players under 12 stone is a misinformed and ignorant statement. Like other power sports rowing has weight categories: open (or heavyweight) and lightweight. There is no doubt that lightweight rowing is a different discipline. It requires each member of a crew to be below a maximum weight and the crew to make an average weight. The inclusion of lightweight rowing in the Olympics will not exclude any of the world's top athletes. The Searle brothers and Gary Herbert will not be cut out of the Great Britain team. The introduction of two classes of lightweight men's boat classes opens the doors to a huge percentage of the world's population in Asian and South American countries whose physical stature does not allow them to compete at an open weight, and without an Olympic class they cannot get backing in their countries to even compete at lightweight events.
Great Britain will not lose out on the medal table either: the British lightweight men's coxless four have been world champions for the last two years and have other world-class medals between them. The British lightweight teams, men and women, are more consistently successful than the heavyweight team. At last year's world championships, every crew made their final, winning a gold and three silvers. The women's team shared top place on the medal table with Canada. In the modern world the biggest is not always the best. We should be trying to increase country participation not domination.
(Athletes' Representative for Great Britain Lightweight Women's Rowing Team)