It was no walkover though for the Americans with a solid clutch of crews doing everything they could to stop them.
Best race: The Lucerne World Rowing Cup final. The United States was making their first appearance at a 2016 World Rowing Cup and at first the race looked like business as usual. They led at 500 metres and by the halfway mark were half a boat length ahead of second-placed Great Britain. But then New Zealand made a big push for second and the knock-on effect saw the British and Kiwis close on the United States. Great Britain’s Olivia Carnegie-Brown said they could hear the US crew shouting at each other and that spurred them on. But the Americans put on the power, upped their rating and won by 0.8 of a second over the British.
History in the making: The United States has become the most successful women’s eight nation of all time after winning gold at the Rio Olympics. It was their third Olympic gold in a row on top of their 11th consecutive world title. Elle Logan was there for all three Olympics, becoming the only US rower to win three consecutive Olympic golds. There was also history being made in Canada’s boat, which finished fifth. Their coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie has tied for the most appearances at an Olympics by a female athlete – eight. She first coxed at Los Angeles in 1984.
“This is my first Olympic victory, so it feels pretty awesome.” – Katelin Snyder (USA) – gold
“There was a lot of pressure, but I tried to keep thinking it as just another race. It’s so amazing. It’s electric.” – Kerry Simmonds (USA) – gold
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s a whole mix of ‘what if’. It’s not just the nine of us, it’s 50-60 women that are there. We had all of the right tools in the box we just had to put it into place when it mattered. Zoe (de Toledo the coxswain) later she’ll cry like a baby. In the boat she stays cool and collected.” – Jessica Eddie (GBR) – silver
“I am very, very happy. The bronze is like a gold medal because it’s like a dream. I am very proud of the medal. People didn’t think we could do it.” – Ioana Strungaru (ROU) – bronze
The year that was: Yet again, 2016 belonged to the United States. They gave other crews some hope at the sole World Rowing regatta they appeared at in the lead up to the Olympics, Lucerne, when Great Britain came within a second of beating them. But by the Rio Olympics there was no question of their dominance.
The European Champions, Great Britain, had a great season but it was mostly a silver one. As well as their Lucerne second place, they were runners up at the Olympics and the Poznan World Rowing Cup regattas. Will they be able to end the United States’ streak next year?
Before there was the United States, it was Romania that ruled the women’s eight and in 2016 they showed they could again be a force, taking bronze in Rio. Their absolute delight to be in the medals was to be New Zealand’s dismay. The 2015 World Rowing Championship silver medalists, New Zealand, had won gold in Poznan and come third in Lucerne but had to settle with fourth at the Olympics.
The Varese World Rowing Cup winners and Poznan World Rowing Cup gold medalists, the Netherlands, and Varese runners up Canada could not turn their solid seasons into Olympic podium places. Canada finished fifth and the Netherlands sixth. But they showed the real depth and rivalry that is the women’s eight.