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Update on the U19 lightweight category review

Update on the U19 lightweight category review

Kayaking Canada Aveyron (RCA) conducted a review of the presence of a lightweight rowing category in the under-19 age group. In 2022, the RCA launched an Under-19 Lightweight Working Group to carry out this mission, with the aim of providing recommendations to the RCA Board for consideration to inform a safe, fair and inclusive way forward to address the risks and concerns raised around weight. Rowing categories restricted to rowers under 19 years of age.

The working group conducted a consultation that included an online survey. The task force has presented to the RCA Board of Directors a final report containing seven (7) recommendations.

The full report can be accessed here.

The recommendations are:

Recommendation 1: Collect data to inform future health and safety initiatives based on risk.
Recommendation 2: Develop, fund and require mandatory education for all coaches regarding the safe management of light weights; feed; Athlete mental health. Prevention and identification of eating disorders.
Recommendation 3: Create an environment where Canadian lightweight athletes feel supported, included and somewhat valued.
Recommendation 4: Establishing guidelines specific to the sport of rowing, regarding the prevention, recognition and management of eating disorders and erythematosus.
Recommendation 5: Develop and launch a body positive educational campaign targeting all athletes.
Recommendation 6: Providing access to health practitioners and experts in nutrition, eating disorders and sports psychology.
Recommendation 7: In the under-19 age group, adopt height categories to support inclusion, equity and health while providing a meaningful racing experience for athletes.

We encourage everyone interested in this important topic to review the entire report as it contains information and context that informs the above recommendations.

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After careful consideration of the information collected by the task force and review of the recommendations made, the RCA Board of Directors approved Recommendations Number Six (1-6).

Regarding Recommendation Seven (7), the RCA Board agrees with the intention to adopt alternative categories in place of weight-restricted categories for under-19 participants and wishes to explore all options that will support inclusion, equity and health while providing a meaningful racing experience for athletes. Accordingly, the RCA Board of Directors has issued a proposal to discontinue the U19 lightweight rowing and replace it with alternatives at a date yet to be determined. This will not apply during the current 2024 competitive season.

The work done to establish methods (e.g. categories), implementations and corresponding timelines will be supervised by a new working group: RCA Under-19 Fair and Meaningful Competition Working Group. We expect to issue the call for expressions of interest before the end of June 2024.

Light rowing, including at U19 level, has a deep place in our history and culture, and we appreciate that this change will have a profound impact on our individuals, organisations, programmes, routes and structures. We are committed to a balanced approach, moving away from the risks identified, while implementing alternatives with the aim of reducing disruption to the community.

Next steps

As we prepare to publish information on how to join 'RCA Under-19s Fair and Meaningful Competition Working Group We encourage community members to start thinking about whether this work might interest them.

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