Denis Oswald stepped down as President of the World Rowing Federation (FISA) after a quarter of a century in charge.

He handed over the Presidency to Jean-Christophe Rolland at a regatta dinner in the Swiss city of Lucerne later, where the World Rowing Cup was held.

Oswald, who won an Olympic bronze medal for Switzerland in the coxed fours at Mexico City 1968, announced his plan for handing over the Presidency last year.

He was re-elected to the position he has held since 1989 in September last year for what he said would be a “transitional period” while he groomed his successor.

Frenchman Rolland, who will now lead the governing body, is an Olympic gold medal-winning rower.

Former International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, who Oswald sought to replace in last year’s vote ultimately won by Thomas Bach, said:

“I will be forever grateful to you for having successfully carried through the coordination of Athens and London.”

Oswald was chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Athens 2004 and London 2012 Games.

IOC secretary general Françoise Zweifel said: “Will, honesty, authority – when thinking of you, these are the three words that immediately come to my mind.” swald competed at three Olympic Games – Mexico 1968, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976 – was a 13-time Swiss national champion and coached a number of Swiss crews to international competition.

A Doctor of Law, Oswald lectured at various universities and has been the director of the International Centre for Sports Studies since 2000.

The 67-year-old served as arbitrator from 1984 at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and as mediator since 1994.

He was a member of the Swiss Olympic Committee’s first Athletes’ Commission and became a member of the IOC in 1991.

Oswald was also elected President of Association of Summer Olympic International Federations in 2000 and served for 12 years.

In 1978 he was elected secretary general of FISA, a position he stayed in for 11 years before being elected President in 1989.

During his presidency, the number of national federations affiliated to FISA has risen from 67 to 142, lightweight rowing was added to the Olympic Games programme and Para-rowing became part of the Paralympic Games. FISA executive director Matt Smith said:

“Your honesty, integrity and the way you have always shown respect for others has touched and inspired us all; and your unselfish commitment to do every job well, whatever you have been asked to do, is now legendary.”

Giving his own tribute, International Paralympic Committee President Sir Phillip Craven, said:

“I was immediately struck by the manner in which you led FISA with a passionate belief in the true values of sport such as teamwork, playing by the rules and never losing sight of the fact that FISA is a big, happy family with one unifying interest – rowing.

“Oswald’s successor, Rolland, was elected at the 2013 Ordinary Congress in Chungju, South Korea.

He won bronze in the coxless pairs at Atlanta 1996, and gold four years later in Sydney alongside Michel Andrieux, Speaking last year as he prepared to shadow Oswald in preparation for taking over as President, he said:

“Denis was at a high level in the IOC and has a lot of experience. “I’m far away from his level so I know I have to climb step by step. “I will need to build the networks in and out of our sport.”

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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