Canada

An Olympic gold medal 29 years in the making: Canadian rowers own women’s eight final

Canadians were first off the start line and held their lead for the entire race

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They started fast, finished fast and pulled in a gold medal 29 years in the waiting.

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Canada’s women’s eight rowing crew won its first Olympic gold medal since 1992 Friday morning in Tokyo, splashing through an aggressive run that saw them beat pursuing runners-up New Zealand (silver) and China (bronze).

The crew, which led most of the course, had just three holdovers from a fifth-place finish in Rio in 2016. That trio included Susanne Grainger, Lisa Roman and Christine Roper, along with newcomers Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Andrea Proske and Avalon Wasteneys. Kristen Kit coxed them to victory.

Canada’s coxswain Kristen Kit celebrate the victory of her rowing team in the women’s eight final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Canada’s coxswain Kristen Kit celebrate the victory of her rowing team in the women’s eight final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU /AFP via Getty Images
The finish line celebration.
The finish line celebration. Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU /AFP/Getty Images
The Canadian crew in action on July 28, 2021. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)
The Canadian crew in action on July 28, 2021. (REUTERS/Leah Millis) Photo by LEAH MILLIS /REUTERS

Canada posted a time of 5:59.13, which was .91 seconds ahead of New Zealand and 2.08 up on China.

“These women trusted me,” Kit told CBC shortly after getting out of the water. “They’re the most special group of women I’ve ever had the privilege of coxing. We came out on this course today representing a legacy.”

Kit paid tribute to the 1992 rowers who won gold medals for Canada, including Kathleen Heddle, who died of cancer earlier this year.

Kit told CBC those 1992 women “started the gold-medal tradition for Canadian women’s rowing. And we continued that legacy today. Kathleen Heddle is no longer with us; she was with us on the start line.”

The gold-medal race comes one day after Canadian rowers Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens captured bronze medals in the women’s pair event.

Bronze medallists Caileigh Filmer of Canada and Hillary Janssens of Canada celebrate with their medals in their boat.
Bronze medallists Caileigh Filmer of Canada and Hillary Janssens of Canada celebrate with their medals in their boat. Photo by PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW /REUTERS
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