By Amy Tennery and Angus MacSwan
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – The United States’ women’s eight powered to the gold medal in the Olympic rowing regatta on Saturday, extending a 10-year unbeaten run.
The crew came into the 2016 Games as massive favorites, appearing unbeatable after winning gold at both the 2012 and 2008 Games.
After trailing Canada and Netherlands in the first half, the U.S. crew took the lead in the third section of the race. The British team came good in the last stretch to claim silver and Romania made a late surge to take bronze.
The United States finished in 6 minutes 1.49 seconds, 2.49 seconds ahead of Britain.
This was the Americans’ third Olympic gold in a row. Under coach Tom Terhaar, they have been unbeaten for 10 years and won all the world rowing championships and Olympic Games during this period.
“I was hyperventilating. It was so amazing. To do this with everybody in our boat is so special,” said U.S. rower Amanda Polk, after claiming victory.
“Born in the USA” played over loudspeakers as American fans reveled in their country’s first rowing gold of the Rio Games.
At a post-race press conference, Eleanor Logan, who also won gold with the team in the 2008 and 2012 games, heaped praised on her fellow crew members, saying they had motivated her to improve on her own skills.
“Their hunger to be the best they can be every day has really pushed us to a new level,” said Logan. “Every day we had to look to be better ourselves.”
BRITAIN UPSETS GERMANY
In the men’s eights, Britain unseated a favored German boat to claim gold in 5:29.16.
Silver medalist Germany came nipping at Britain’s heels in the final stretch, finishing just 1.33 seconds behind the gold medal winner. Netherlands took bronze.
Briton Scott Durant said his team was hell-bent on claiming victory this year.
“There was no way we were going to let it get away this time. We knew we had the speed. We knew what we had to do,” said Durant. “It wasn’t by any means a perfect row, and I’m sure we had more in the tank. It’s a little bit surreal.”
Britain claimed five medals in rowing this year, the most of any country, including three golds.
(Reporting by Angus MacSwan and Amy Tennery; Editing by Ed Osmond and Bill Rigby)