Host City: Moskva, Soviet Union
Date Started: July 20, 1980
Date Finished: July 27, 1980
Participants: 470 (313 men and 157 women) from 25 countries
Youngest Participant: Josip Reić (14 years, 362 days)
Oldest Participant: Ladislau Lovrenschi (48 years, 30 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Nataliya Kazak and Nina Cheremisina (2 medals)
Most Medals (Country): East Germany (14 medals)
Rowing at the 1980 Summer Olympics was held at the Krylatskoye Rowing Canal in Moscow and was impacted by the American-led boycott, although perhaps not as heavily other events. There were fewer nations competing in Moscow, only 25 compared to the 31 who took part in the previous edition, but East Germany was the dominant power in world rowing and had not been seriously challenged by any of the boycotting nations in most events at the World Championships. The only obvious exception was in the men’s double sculls, where the absence of Norwegian brothers Frank and Alf Hansen, the defending Olympic champions and winner of three of the last four World Championships, left the event devoid of genuine competitive flavor. On a more general level, however, the absence of many strong nations left the medal table more heavily tilted towards East Germany, and especially the Soviet Union. For the fourth consecutive time, East Germany topped the medal table and, for the third consecutive time, won a medal in every event, a record 11 of which were gold. In addition to its victory in the women’s double sculls, the Soviet Union was runner-up in nine events and captured bronze in two more, meaning that it failed to medal only twice\: the men’s double sculls and the women’s coxless pairs. The only other gold medals were won by Finland and Romania in the men’s and women’s single sculls respectively.
The 1980 program remained the same as it had been in 1976 and held women’s events for the second time. Despite the boycott, one nation made its Olympic rowing début\: Guatemala sent Edgar Nanne and Alberik de Suremain to the men’s coxless pairs event. Nanne would compete again in the single sculls in 1984 but, as of 2012, these have been the only Guatemalans to compete in Olympic rowing. Even more surprising, considering the East German dominance, was that another nation, Romania, managed to capture its first-ever rowing gold medal, thanks to the single sculling prowess of Sanda Toma. Both Nina Cheremisina and Nataliya Kazak of the Soviet Union, meanwhile, managed to take two medals at the Games, silver in the coxed quadruple sculls and bronze in the coxed fours.