Team Canada women’s eight wins rowing gold at Tokyo 2020

Canada has won a second medal in the Olympic rowing regatta as the women’s eight captured gold to open Day 7 at Tokyo 2020.

The crew of Lisa Roman, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Christine Roper, Andrea Proske, Susanne Grainger, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Avalon Wasteneys and coxswain Kristen Kit pulled away from the start with a quick stroke rate of 45 and were in the lead through the first 250m. As they hit the 500m mark, Canada still held that lead by about half a second over Australia.

As they settled in for the next 500m, the Canadians expanded their lead and hit the midway mark with a 1.63 second gap on the Aussies. They continued to power through to the next interval, maintaining about half a boat length lead as New Zealand moved up to be 1.30 seconds behind Canada.

In the home stretch of the 2000m race, the Canadian crew just looked to hold off the challengers and did so to win gold by 0.91 of a second over New Zealand, finishing in 5:59.13. China came in for the bronze.

The crew had to take the long route to the final after finishing second in their heat. But in the repechage, they rowed to a Canadian best ever time of 5:53.73 to advance for a shot at the Olympic podium. That was actually faster than the previous world best in the event, but a new global standard was set by Romania (5:52.99) in the same race.

This is the fifth Olympic medal Canada has won in this event, all of them in the last eight Games, starting with the gold at Barcelona 1992. That was followed by silver at Atlanta 1996, bronze at Sydney 2000 and then a silver at London 2012.

After finishing fifth in the eight at Rio 2016, Canada won silver medals at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. Grainger, Roman and Roper have been the stalwarts in all of those boats, with Kit starting to guide the crew in 2017 and Payne moving in for 2018. Six of the women in the boat (Grainger, Gruchalla-Wesierski, Roman, Roper, Wasteneys, and Kit) were all part of Canada’s fourth place finish at the 2019 World Championships that qualified the boat for these Olympic Games.

They join Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens as Canada’s rowing medallists of Tokyo 2020 after the duo won bronze in the pair on Day 6.

READ: Fitness and friendship propel Filmer and Janssens to the podium