Xeno Muller reflects on the increase of spectators at Olympic regattas on his Row2k blog
The Grand Stands are getting longer and longer
Back in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics, a racing competitor could hear the crowd cheer from a small patch of land 150 meters before the finish line. The spectators were piled up on a small grand stand and if you were VIP, a river boat was your other option to view the racing from. Tactically, it was crucial to start your final push BEFORE being able to hear the cheering, otherwise, you would have "missed the boat" for an effective sprint to the finish line.
In 1996 the grand stands grew considerably bigger, and were a whole 250 meters long, on one side. On the other side of the race course, friends, family, and press enjoyed almost 150 meters of seated area. The length of the grand stand was equal to the distance of my final all-out sprinting capabilities. The grandstands made winning the gold medal even more memorable. Friends and acquaintances, whom I had not seen for ten years, greeted and congratulated me for my victory in the single scull.
In 2000, WOW!!!!! The Australians redefined my knowledge of rowing grand stands. The spectator/fan section was a whopping 500 meters. Great if you were in the lead and going strong for the finish line… that was not my case… In 2000, I blew so hard in the last 500 meters that the grandstand was like a never ending nightmare. I was wondering WHEN that finish line would finally going to put my pain to rest.
2004 and now, the grand stands look as massive as in 2000. I keep my fingers crossed for all of you Olympic athletes, who are currently racing in China. Let those last 500 meters be a dream come true and not the other way around.