Wednesday, August 1, 2012

RR Olympics Blog: Getting the Hang of it Now

Flag outside the venue at Eton Dorney (Photo: B. Kitch)
The first day of finals at Eton Dorney was nothing short of amazing, with one of the closest men's eight races on record -- truly one for the ages. Add to that the first ever Olympic gold medal for the GB women's rowing team, a bronze medal for the U.S. women's quad, and two outstanding performances from the US crews in the men's eight and women's pair events, and you've got yourself what might be described as a 'cracking' day at Dorney Lake. On the schedule for today are the finals of the men's double, lightweight men's four, and women's eight -- an event with another winning streak on the line.

The Germans showed that they are, indeed, just that much better in the men's eight yesterday, responding to what was a huge challenge from the home team in the final 500m, with the tremendous roar of the grandstand to urge the GB crew toward gold. Having spoken with several members of the U.S. crew yesterday, needless to say, they were disappointed not to medal. Given their excellent start in the heat, it was a bit surprising to see them in sixth place coming through 500m and 1000m, but they fought very well through the second half of the race, and it truly came down to inches as the crews crossed the line -- not sure that there has ever been an Olympic final in which all six eights crossed the finish within 3.12 seconds of one another. Hats off to GB for throwing everything into it in a quest for gold -- it nearly cost them a podium finish, as the U.S. came through quite well in the final 250m. Putting things in perspective, however, what both the U.S. men's eight and women's pair (two tenths of a second out of the medals) accomplished serves as a shining example of the Olympic ideal -- they battled against the odds, laid everything on the line, and competed extremely well.

The U.S. women's eight will likely be asked the same question, posed to the Germans by GB on the men's side, today by the Canadians, but the U.S. looked as untouchable in the eight during the heat as the Kiwi men's pair have looked in their races thus far. The men's double final is notably without the Beijing champions from Australia, and last year's silver and bronze medalist crews from Germany and France, respectively. The men's double has become one of the closest events from top to bottom, with several crews left out of the A Final who might have a chance at gold on any given day.

Given the level of writing, time at the course, and time spent commuting it's been quite a whirlwind. Also, people seem to be asking for my opinion more and more of late (being a Rowing News correspondent has its perks!) -- I've had the great fortune to be interviewed regarding yesterday's finals by both CBC Radio and BBC Radio 5 Live, the latter only a few minutes ago as the morning's coverage kicks off on Day Six at the Olympics. I hope you've been enjoying the write-ups posted to RowingNews.com -- more to come from the course at Eton Dorney this afternoon!

-Bryan

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