Erin Cafaro, Lindsay Shoop, Anna Goodale, Elle Logan, Anne Cummins, Susan Francia, Caroline Lind, Caryn Davies, Mary Whipple of the U.S. row strokes during Women's Eight Final A of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games rowing event at Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008. The U.S. team won the gold medal of the event. [Xinhua]
The United States took a revenge on arch rival Romania on Sunday to win its first Olympic gold medal in the women's rowing eight since 1984.
The American crew, who took world titles in 2006 and 2007, led all the way to win in 6 minutes, 5.34 seconds. The Netherlands, who came from behind to surpass Romania in the last meters, took silver in 6:07.22. Defending Olympic champions Romania clinched bronze in 6:07.25.
The American team, who last time claimed the Olympic gold in Los Angeles, won silver in Athens, 2004 when Romania took their third straight title in the blue ribbon event.
The U.S. crews punched their fists into the air in rapture and great relief at the finish line, while the Romanians sat dejected and bowed their heads low.
After the gold medal ceremony, the U.S. team tossed cox Mary Whipple into the water in celebration and rowed a lap in the Shunyi Lake in salute to the fans.
"We weren't afraid and on the day we did it," Whipple said of the strong rivals.
"This is the first time since 1984 (they have won a gold medal in women's eight) and we are making history. This is for the 1984 girls."
"We rode a boat called The Hunter, we hunted everyone all the way down," said Cummins. The 28-year-old said she would retire after the Games but would cheer for the team in London Games.
"We have great team spirit, the goal was to do it together, (but in London 2012) I'm going to cheer them on."
Whipple, Cummins, and Caryn Davies were the only three in the current team that were among the silver medalists in Athens.
Disappointment and bitterness were seen on the faces of Romania's veteran and once mighty rowers.
"The race was even better than Athens, but we don't know what happened. The Americans are younger than the Dutch but they won the gold," said the 33-year-old Viorica Susanu.
"I was too tired after yesterday's competition and it was hard for me to race again today. But we've won a medal and we hope to improve for the next Olympics."
On Saturday, Susanu and Georgeta Andrunache retained the title in the women's pair, earning Susanu the fourth Olympic gold and Andrunache the fifth.
(Xinhua News Agecny August 17, 2008)