Ballarat makes its pitch to host rowing events at Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games

Ballarat has launched a bid to restore rowing events as part of the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games – and has put its hand up to host the events at Lake Wendouree.

Rowing has a strong Commonwealth Games history – it was one of six sports at the inaugural Games (known then as the British Empire Games) and was included as a sport at six subsequent Commonwealth Games, with Australian rowers winning an impressive 34 medals. However, the last time rowing was included in the Commonwealth Games was in 1986 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Daniel Moloney said the host nation has the right to add an optional three to five additional sports to the Commonwealth Games calendar of events. He believes rowing is a perfect fit for Victoria 2026.

“There is an incredible and cost-effective opportunity to include rowing at the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games using Lake Wendouree as a venue,” he said.

“Major investment in the last decade means Lake Wendouree is a world class, event-ready venue.

“Importantly, it is the only Word Rowing (FISA) standard course in Victoria, which means it has all the infrastructure to host elite level international rowing events.”

Cr Moloney said logistically Ballarat is a good fit too, with support and access in place for athletes, spectators and support staff.

“The lake is in the heart of the city so athlete access for training and competition is straightforward, and with Ballarat home to one of four athlete villages for the Games, all the medical and team support for rowers is within easy reach as well,” he said.

“For spectators, Lake Wendouree provides the opportunity to ticket the start and finish of the rowing course – while also allowing free spectator access to the rowing events for thousands of local and regional residents who might not otherwise have the chance to enjoy watching live, elite level sporting competition.”

Cr Moloney said the 1956 Olympics events left a strong legacy in the city, inspiring generations of Ballarat rowers to reach elite national and international competition.

“Famously, Lake Wendouree hosted rowing events at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, and in the years since has seen state, national and more recently international competition,” he said.

“The 2026 Commonwealth Games has the potential to motivate a new generation of Ballarat rowers.

“Rowing is a major sport in many Commonwealth countries and with our rich rowing heritage Ballarat is the perfect place to host rowing events as part of the Victoria 2026 Games”.

A video showcasing rowing on Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree has been sent to key stakeholders in the Victorian Government, Office of the Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, and the Australian rowing community.

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