Canada's women's eight rowing crew captures Olympic gold for 1st time in 29 years

·3 min read
Canada's women's eight rowing crew captures Olympic gold for 1st time in 29 years
Canada's women's eight rowing crew poses with their gold medals during the medal ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.  (Leon Neal/Getty Images - image credit)
Canada's women's eight rowing crew poses with their gold medals during the medal ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. (Leon Neal/Getty Images - image credit)

Canada's women's eight crew captured gold on the final day of Olympic rowing at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo on Friday, winning the event for the first time in 29 years. It is Canada's third gold medal at Tokyo 2020.

New Zealand claimed silver, finishing ahead of bronze winners China. Canada finished with a time of 5:59.13, while the Kiwis and Chinese clocked in at 6:00.04 and 6:01.21, respectively.

It is a moment of redemption for returning Olympians Susanne Grainger, Lisa Roman and Christine Roper, who have now helped lead Canada to Olympic glory along with coxswain Kristen Kit, Sydney Payne, Madison Mailey, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Avalon Wasteneys and Andrea Proske.

The win comes a day after Canadian rowers Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens won bronze in the women's pair event.

WATCH l Canada's women's eight rowing crew wins gold:

"It's amazing. We worked so hard and we trusted each other. We knew we could do it if we put it on the line today and that's what we did," Roman said. "It's amazing, it's a great feeling."

The Canadians pulled into the lead and continued to accelerate beyond the pack after a great start, making it clear the crew was bound for the podium.

Canada found itself leading after the first 1,000 metres ahead of Australia and New Zealand, and relentless momentum propelled the unstoppable Canadian boat as the race progressed. Medal favourite Romania fell out of the picture entirely.

The determined Canadians set an unmatchable pace with their lead continuing to grow through 1,500 metres.

New Zealand powered into second and attempted to make a late push, while the Chinese crew also began to make their move, coming seemingly out of nowhere to storm into bronze position down the final stretch of the 2,000-metre course.

The U.S. crew finished fourth (6:02.78) and fell short of the Olympic podium for the first time since 2000, ending its dominance in the event after three consecutive gold medals. Australia came fifth (6:03.92), followed by Romania in last place with a time of 6:04.06.

WATCH l Canadians celebrate gold atop podium:

The Canadians entered the race with an unshakable confidence that was on full display throughout. Roman said the crew knew it was capable of taking control.

"I felt like we built up every race and we decided that today was going to be the best race," Roman said. "We knew if we laid down the best race we could probably win a gold medal. We were more focused on having our best race and knowing that that would probably give us what we wanted."

Grainger was a member of the crew that missed the podium with a fifth-place finish at the Rio Olympics, and she felt a difference heading into Tokyo that set the stage for them to shine.

"Training was different. We've put the work in, we've believed that we could do it and we've had those moments as an eight to move together and trust the process," Grainger said. "We just really knew that the sum of all of our parts was greater, and we just visualized that we could do it."

It is Canada's first medal in the event since claiming silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 chef de mission Marnie McBean and the late Kathleen Heddle helped lead Canada to its only other Olympic gold in women's eight at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the crew's first time reaching the Olympic podium.

Canada's crew enjoyed continued Olympic success with silver in 1996 and bronze in 2000.

WATCH l CBC Sports' The Olympians feature on women's eight rowing:

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