THE spectacular success of the National Masters Rowing Championships at Lake Wendouree has given Ballarat the inside running to host even more major events, with potential for the Commonwealth Games in 2026.
As hundreds of competitors and thousands of visitors descended on the city for the four-day championships, which culminated on Sunday afternoon, Rowing Victoria chief executive Ian Jickell described the event as a monumental success.
"We were blessed and the feedback we got, particularly from athletes from interstate was glowing," Jickell said.
"It's a wonderful city to enjoy and everyone made the most of it in and around their racing commitments.
"It was just suburb facilities, perfect water and the most fair conditions you could ever imagine."
Jickell said the championship "put Ballarat on the map" in terms of being able to host major events in future.
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"We have a wonderful relationship with the City of Ballarat, obviously we host the state titles here every two years," he said.
"We were lucky enough to host the rowing nationals in Nagambie earlier in the year, and although that's on a rotating basis with states, the success of this event shows what a wonderful venue Ballarat would be for such major events going forward."
Jickell said there was a big push to see rowing included in the Commonwealth Games in 2026, which would be the first time since 1986, with a decision, he expects, to be taken by the end of the year.
"There is a big push to see rowing return to the Commonwealth Games and Rowing Victoria and Rowing Australia are in those discussions," he said.
"If it was decided, obviously Ballarat and Nagambie would be in the running. We are so blessed in Victoria to have access to two such quality 2000m courses.
"The first thing though is to get rowing back on the agenda for Commonwealth Games. Obviously there is a Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in a couple of months, so I've got no doubt that discussions will be ongoing around that time."
Jickell said the universality of the sport is one of the big issues facing its return. While the sport is strong in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Canada, work needed to be done on adding it to sporting programs in African and Caribbean countries.
"There is a large number of athletes required to participate in rowing and so we need to look at the impact they have, such as accommodation, space and other needs. There are hurdles we need to get over," he said.
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