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8 Friends x 8 Nations = 1 Great 8
Monday, October 15, 2012
Madelyn Stone, HOCR
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Gevvie Stone

Eight Olympians, representing eight countries, with more than eight Olympic medals among them, are stepping into one boat Sunday afternoon to compete as the Women's Great Eight in the Head Of The Charles' Women's Championship Eights.

The backgrounds of these Great Eight rowers are as diverse as their nationalities. At this summer's Olympics, the rowers competed in single, double and quadruple sculls – but none rowed sweep.

Genevra "Gevvie" Stone, the defending champion of the Regatta's Women's Championship Singles, and the United States single sculler at this year's London Games, spearheaded the organization of the team. She recognizes the range of her fellow rowers' experience, and says it adds to the excitement of the competition.

"It's a fun regatta, and, it's an adventure for single scullers and double scullers to get into an eight," she says. "The fun idea behind the Great Eight to begin with was, that single scullers, when put together, can be competitive with the top eights."

The first sculler Stone recruited was Australian Kim Crow, a silver medalist in the double and bronze medalist in the single at the London Games. She won a bronze medal in the 2006 World Championships, and silver medals in 2010 and 2011.

Miroslava Knapkova, or Mirka, hails from the Czech Republic and took home the gold for the single this summer. She was also a gold medalist in the 2011 World Championships, a silver medalist in the 2005 and 2006 Championships, and a bronze medalist in 2009.

Fie Erichsen of Denmark was the silver medalist in the single in London.

After winning gold at the 2009 World Championships and bronze in 2010, Julia Michalska took an Olympic bronze medal home to Poland this summer from the women's doubles.

Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania came in eighth place in the single at the Olympics. She won gold medals at the 2010 and 2011 U23 World Championships, a bronze medal at the 2011 European Championships and a gold medal at the European Championships this year.

German Annekatrin Thiele won silver in the quad in London, and in 2008 won silver in the double in Beijing.

Anna Watkins of Great Britain won gold in the double before the home fans in London this summer. The London gold adds to an impressive collection, including a doubles bronze from Beijing, a bronze from the 2007 World Championships, a silver from the 2009 World Championships and two gold medals from the World Championships in 2010 and 2011.

Coxing the boat is Jill Carlson, a former co-captain of Radcliffe's heavyweight crew and coxswain of the Black and White championship eight in 2011.

Before the rowers join forces on Sunday, some will compete in Saturday's Championship Singles. Shifting from competitors to teammates in a day's time may seem jarring, but Stone says it's actually quite natural.

"One of the fun things about the single is that you really get to meet your competitors," she explains. "Because you don't have any teammates on the water to interact with you kind of end up interacting with each other, and there's really no 'us versus them' because it's just one-on-one. So the unique thing about the single is you really can get to know your competitors and become friends with them, and one of the perks of that is being able to organize things like this."


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10/16/2012  9:30:55 AM
So glad to see the great eight tradition continue and expend into the women's events! HoCR should consider letting them run the course in a straight octuple as an exhibition. (I think Union might have one they can use!)

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