With a total of eight Olympic medals, three of them gold, Romania tops the Olympic medals table in the women’s eight. In recent years, however, the Romanians have not been so dominant. The nation last won an Olympic medal in this boat class in 2008, when they took bronze.

The most medalled female rower of all-time at Olympic level in the eight, also Romanian, is Elena Georgescu. Georgescu assembled no less than five Olympic medals in the women’s eight – three of them gold, as well as a silver and a bronze. Spanning 16 years, her Olympic career in the eight began at Barcelona 1992 and ended at Beijing 2008, when she was 44 years old.

But in Rio, the Romanian lead could possibly be overtaken by the United States. Ranking second on the all-time list of most medalled nations in the women’s eight at Olympic level, the United States eight has an historic total of five Olympic medals to their name and, as with Romania, three of them are gold.

For the past ten years (since 2006), the United States won the eight at all World Rowing Championships and Olympic Games. If this staggering winning streak continues and the United States eight wins yet another gold in Rio, it will be the nation’s fourth Olympic gold historically. This would propel it to the status of most successful nation ever in the women’s eight.

The United States is not only the reigning World and Olympic Champions, but it also owns the World Best Time. It has, in fact, set four World Best Times since 2004, when they re-set a World Best Time that Romania had established 14 years prior in 1990. The United States’ athletes have made sure that they keep getting faster and faster. After improving the reference time by three seconds at the 2004 Olympic Games, they reduced the time by one further second at the 2006 World Rowing Championships. A third best was set in 2012, prior to the London Olympics, followed by the latest time set in 2013 which now stands at 5:54.16.

Eleanor Logan will be the longest-standing member of the United States women’s eight in Rio. She was part of the line-up in Beijing and London. A third Olympic gold in this boat class would place her in the all-time list of top 10 Olympic female rowers.

Another stand-out personality in the Olympic history of the women’s eight is Lesley Thompson-Willie from Canada. The coxswain medalled four times in this boat class at the Olympic level and combined with her experience in the coxed four, she will be racing in Rio at her seventh Olympic Games. Thompson-Willie’s first Games were the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics. Canada won Olympic silver in London and has medalled consistently in this Olympic cycle, not missing a single podium at World Championship level.

Throughout the 2016 regatta season, other crews that have been doing well so far and should be looked out for in Rio include Great Britain and New Zealand, who will both be seeking to win a first ever Olympic medal for their nation in this boat class at the Olympics, and the Netherlands who have been regular Olympic medal contenders in this event historically.

Preliminary race, Katie Greves (b), Melanie Wilson, Frances Houghton, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett, Zoe Lee (s), Zoe De Toledo (c ), Women's Eight, Great Britain, 2016 World Rowing Cup III, Poznan, Poland © FISA Igor Meijer

 

All-time dream crew in the women’s eight

By Martin Cross

Using more than a century of modern rowing, Martin Cross looks at the sport’s legendary performers and plays selector. This is his pick.

Stroke: Caryn Davies (USA)
At the age of 32, the sensational rowing career of Davies at last gained worldwide recognition. In 2015, she stroked Oxford’s eight to victory in the first Women’s Boat Race to be held on the prestigious Tideway course in Great Britain. Before that, Davies had stroked the United States women’s eight to successive Olympic gold in Beijing and London. With an eight’s silver in 2004, she epitomizes the spirit and technical precision that has taken US women to the top.

7-seat: Kathleen Heddle (CAN)
The tall, quietly spoken Canadian had the length, poise and power to row the 7-seat. She shot to prominence at the Barcelona Olympics, when she anchored both the Canadian eight and four to emphatic Olympic victories. She was seen as the outstanding performer in coach Al Morrow’s remarkable crews. Four years later, Heddle tried to repeat the feat – this time in sculling. She returned from Atlanta with a superb gold in the doubles and impressive bronze in the quads.

 6-seat: Marnie McBean (CAN)
McBean’s fiery and feisty drive would make her the perfect woman to sit in 6-seat. Her extroverted nature was the ideal foil for Heddle’s calmness under pressure. Between 1992 and 1996, the two women were almost inseparable – apart from 1993, when Heddle took a year out. Then, the aggressive style of the Canadian won her a remarkable silver medal at the World Rowing Championships in single sculls. McBean retired in 2000. But her three Olympic golds were all the more remarkable because at only 1.77m tall and 73kg, McBean knew how to make every centimetre and kilo count. 

 5-seat: Katherine Grainger (GBR)
The Scott became a household name during the London Olympics in 2012, when she finally won Olympic gold with her double sculls partner, Anna Watkins. In the three Olympics from 2000 to 2008, Grainger won no less than three silver medals – in both quads and pairs. To those medals could be added a further six World Championship titles. Her power, pace and technical ability would help make the 5-seat in this crew her own.

 4-seat: Jin Ziwei (CHN)
In 2008, at her home Olympics, Ziwei proved her ability to perform under pressure by rowing down the fast-starting British quad to take a brilliant gold medal. Then, she sat in the 2-seat. In Athens, she proved her adaptability by rowing in the first ever-Chinese eight to make an Olympic final. Her success and longevity in the sport – she also sculled in the 2012 Olympic finals – give her a strong claim to represent her country in this crew.

3-seat: Caroline Lind (USA)
The number one ranked female rower in the world in 2015 would actually have a great claim to stroke this eight, or sit in the 6-seat. Lind won back-to-back Olympic golds rowing in the USA women’s eight in Beijing and London. She followed that with consecutive eights world titles in 2013 and 2014. Her experience in this boat class makes her a perfect woman to sit at 3.

2-seat: Rumyana Neykova
One blade – rather than two – would be a new departure for the Bulgarian Olympic Champion. But the recent tradition of women’s ‘Great Eights’  at the Head of the Charles has shown just how quickly scullers can move in sweep boats. Neykova won her gold medal in 2008 in the women's single sculls. But eight years earlier, she had to settle for silver, also in the single in a photo finish. In the spring of 2015, she was still the holder of the world’s best time for single sculls.

Bow: Kate Slatter (AUS)
Olympic gold and silver medals in the women's pair ( Atlanta and Sydney) made the South Australian her country’s most successful Olympic rower. Slatter also stroked both crews: in 1996 with Megan Still and four years later with Rachel Taylor. To that success could be added a further three World Championship medals, including gold in 1995. Her fluidity, drive and leadership qualities would make her a superb attribute in the bow seat.

Cox: Lesley Thompson-Willie (CAN)
The incredible experience of the Canadian coxswain would make her a strong candidate for this seat. What clinches it for Thompson-Wilie, is her coolness under pressure and her role in creating the environment for the consistent success of Canadian Olympic eights. She has won five Olympic titles, crowned with gold in Barcelona.

Videos & stats

London 2012 Olympic Games 

2015 World Rowing Championships – Aiguebelette (FRA)

2014 World Rowing Championships – Amsterdam (NED)

2013 World Rowing Championships – Chungju (KOR)


World Best Times – Historical Evolution (W8+)

Time

Boat

Competition

5:54.16

USA

2013 World Rowing Cup III - Rotsee/Lucerne, Switzerland (Final A)

5:54.17

USA

2012 World Rowing Cup II - Rotsee/Lucerne, Switzerland (Heat 2)

5:55.50

USA

2006 World Rowing Championships - Dorney Lake/Eton, Great Britain (Final A)

5:56.55

USA

2004 Olympic Games - Schinias/Athens, Greece (Heat 1)

5:59.26

ROM

1990 World Rowing Championships - Lake Barrington/Tasmania, Australia (Final A)

 

Olympic Best Times – Historical Evolution (W8+)

Time

Boat

Competition

05:56.6

USA

2004 Olympic Games - Schinias/Athens, Greece (Heat 1)

06:02.6

CAN

1992 Olympic Games - Estany Banyoles/Barcelona, Spain (Final A)

Olympic Qualification

No.

Olympic Qualification Regatta

W8+ (7)

1

WCH 1

USA

2

WCH 2

NZL

3

WCH 3

CAN

4

WCH 4

GBR

5

Final OQR 1

ROU

6

Final OQR 2

NED

7

Final OQR 3

AUS