Canada won women’s eight Olympic gold on Friday in Tokyo, its first gold in the Olympic women’s eight event since 1992. This also marks Canada’s first Olympic gold by a women’s crew since Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle’s double sculls victory in 1996.
The Canadians remained dominant throughout the race, taking a clear lead early on and maintaining that lead all the way until they crossed the finish line. Their time of 5:59.13 put them ahead of silver medallists New Zealand and bronze medallists China.
“We came out on this course today representing a legacy, Marnie, Kathleen,” said coxswain Kristen Kit (University of British Columbia/St. Catharines Rowing Club). Kit has now medalled at both the Olympics and the Paralympics (Rio 2016, PR3 mixed coxed four bronze). “Kathleen Heddle is no longer with us—she was with us on the start line.”
In the boat were six athletes making their Olympic debut— Kristen Kit, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski (Club d’Aviron Knowlton), Madison Mailey (Burnaby Lake Rowing Club), Sydney Payne (Brentwood College Rowing Club), Andrea Proske (False Creek Rowing Club), and Avalon Wasteneys (University of Victoria)—and three who were in the women’s eight that finished fifth at the Rio Olympics, Susanne Grainger (London Rowing Club), Lisa Roman (London Rowing Club), and Christine Roper (Ottawa Rowing Club)
“I have some pretty awesome teammates,” said Gruchalla-Wesierski, who suffered an injury a few weeks before the Games and recovered in time to race. “I never really felt like I had lost my confidence, I was just building it more and more. I have the best support system ever and these girls were so supportive and accepting and we just stuck to the mission.”
Coached by three-time World Champion Michelle Darvill, the women’s eight started the Olympics by coming in second in their heat just 0.3 seconds behind New Zealand. They then progressed to the A final after a second place finish in the repechage, in which they set a new Canadian record.
“I really believed in this crew,” said Kit. “Even in the heats, yeah we got roasted, in the rep, yeah we got roasted, but we needed that because we haven’t raced in two years. This special group of women, we said it last night, we perform when we need to. We perform on the day and we’ll rise to the challenge.”
Canada’s single scullers demonstrated their sprinting skills in the B finals on Friday, with both Carling Zeeman (Sudbury Rowing Club) and Trevor Jones (Peterborough Rowing Club) closing the gap between them and their competitors in their last few hundred metres.
Zeeman was in last place at the halfway mark, but gave a strong final effort to finished in second (eighth overall in the women’s single). Jones was similarly in last place early in his race, but closed out his Olympic debut with a hard row to finish third (ninth overall in the men’s single).
Canada finishes the Tokyo 2020 Olympic regatta with four A final appearances, including the women’s eight gold and bronze in the women’s pair.
Team Canada Results and Progressions
Men’s Single – Trevor Jones
1st in Heat > 2nd in Quarterfinal > 6th in A/B Semifinal > 3rd in B Final > 9th Place
Women’s Single – Carling Zeeman
2nd in Heat > 2nd in Quarterfinal > 5th in A/B Semifinal > 2nd in B Final > 8th Place
Women’s Double – Jessica Sevick & Gabrielle Smith
2nd in Heat > 2nd in A/B Semifinal > 6th in A Final > 6th Place
Women’s Pair – Caileigh Filmer & Hillary Janssens
1st in Heat > 3rd in A/B Semifinal > 3rd in A Final > BRONZE
Men’s Pair – Kai Langerfeld & Conlin McCabe
3rd in Heat > 3rd in A/B Semifinal > 4th in A Final > 4th Place
Lightweight Women’s Double – Jennifer Casson & Jill Moffatt
2nd in Heat > 6th in A/B Semifinal > 6th in B Final > 12th Place
Lightweight Men’s Double – Patrick Keane & Maxwell Lattimer
3rd in Heat > 2nd in Repechage > 5th in A/B Semifinal > 4th in B Final > 10th Place
Women’s Four – Stephanie Grauer, Nicole Hare, Jennifer Martins & Kristina Walker
3rd in Heat > 4th in Repechage > 4th in B Final > 10th Place
Men’s Four – Jakub Buczek, Will Crothers, Luke Gadsdon & Gavin Stone
5th in Heat > 4th in Repechage > 2nd in B Final > 8th Place
Women’s Eight – Susanne Grainger, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Kristen Kit, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Andrea Proske, Lisa Roman, Christine Roper & Avalon Wasteneys
2nd in Heat > 2nd in Repechage > 1st in A Final > GOLD
More information on the Tokyo 2020 regatta and the 10 Canadian crews can be found here.