As the finals were started yesterday at Eton Dorney Rowing Centre, the crowd cheered, as there were medals to be won. In attendance were Prince William and Prince Harry, who among many were in anticipation of their nation's first gold after five days into the Games.
Wednesday rowing started out with the British powerhouse women's pair - Helen Glover and Heather Stanning - taking gold and more importantly, Great Britain's first gold of London 2012. The British team was followed by the Australian team in second and New Zealand in third, with the U.S. team of Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka barely in fourth, a mere three seconds between themselves and the gold.
When asked about the gold medal win, 26-year-old Glover replied to reporters, "Ecstatic! It's so surreal; it will take forever to sink in. We're just really relieved, thank you so much everyone." Stanning, 27, could be deployed to Afghanistan next year, after taking this year off from the army. With only a few years of rowing experience between the two of them, their gold is a certain surprise.
Also leaving the Olympic Games without a medal is the U.S. men's eight team. After finishing their heat in first on Saturday, they too fell in fourth during the final, finishing less than 3 seconds behind the gold, which was taken by Germany, followed by Canada and then Great Britain in third.
During the last race of the day, the German men held off the British attempt to pass and a strong finish by the Canadian team. Germany was the favorite to win, due to going unbeaten in World Cup regattas since 2009. German's number five rower Richard Schmidt told reporters, "It was very difficult because the British were very fast in the first 1,000 metres. We had to break that." And break that they did.
In better news for the U.S., the women's quad scull team consisting of Adrienne Martelli, Megan Kalmoe, Kara Kohler and Natalie Dell, took third place, earning bronze. They finished 4.70 seconds behind the gold winning Ukraine boat with a time of 6:40:63. "We kind of died in the last 500 meters," Dell told reporters. "I mean, I felt like we had nothing left. I said 'Ten strokes' and I didn't believe myself. I said, 'You have two left in you!' I don't remember what happened after that, and then we crossed the line."
Megan Kalmoe said it all, "This feels good. We went out for gold, we went hard, we went aggressive and we came away with bronze, but we're happy to bring home a medal and it's the first one in a really long time in this event for the women and we did the best we could."
Tomorrow will bring more finals and many more medals to be handed out. Good luck Team USA!
Ashley Hodge was a member on the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities Women's Rowing Team. After three months on the freshman team, she participated the next three years on the varsity team. For the majority of her rowing career, Ashley sat in seat seven, behind the stroke.
More from this contributor:
- Sports & Recreation