Rowing guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to rowing ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Photograph: Rowing via Shutterstock

Converted: London 2012’s ultimate test of endurance and brute strength.

Confused: A yuppie hobby for tall people.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Rowing - The essential guide

Street cred: They aren’t really all from Martha's Vineyard, but it’s fair to say rowing hasn’t taken off in the ghetto yet. And it’s true that most rowers are tall, aside from the coxswain.

Who’s good? Australia, Germany and Team USA look strong, but Great Britain is expected to top the medals table for the second straight Games.

The basics: Olympic rowing can be split into two main types: sweep (one oar each) and sculling (two oars). Crews can be made up of one, two, four or eight rowers, plus a cox in certain events.

Athlete to watch: GB’s Greg Searle, who won Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992 and has been out of the sport for nine years, has decided to mount a comeback after noticing that the London 2012 event takes place on Aug 2, exactly 20 years after his Catalonia triumph.

Almost useless fact: 'House' star Hugh Laurie competed in the 1980 Boat Race for Cambridge.

As featured in: Classic literature, from Jerome K. Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’ to Homer’s ‘Odyssey’.

Do say: ‘Those strapping young men make me proud to be American.’

Don’t say: ‘If I have to watch this again, shoot me.’