There will be far fewer deeply haunted athletes roaming North American boathouses over the next four years, as there have been the last eight; the favored Canadians have won the men's eight, the favored Americans the women's eight. Both have capped exceptional world championship winning streaks with an Olympic gold, a rare feat these last decades, and both did so wire to wire on the Shunyi race course in Beijing.
It was Canada all the way this week, from their impressive heats performance last weekend, right on up to a punishing start out of the gates in the final today. No one was going to catch them; so confident was coxswain Brian Price that he was punching the air with both hands with 4-5 strokes to go. I bet that was genuine fun for him, tho you might wonder if stroke seat Kyle Hamilton, who was there in Athens and has been the most outspoken of those who were looking for redemption in 2008, might have liked to hear the beep of the finish horn before he saw the victory air punches, whew.
Watching the British eight even before the regatta, you knew they were dangerous; British eights have sometimes had a tendency to row "just so," with a little more finesse than honk, but this crew had both in spades. It wasn't enough to overcome Canada's aggressive style, particularly fueled as it was by years of anguish in several seats, but it was enough to take a hard-fought silver, by 0.24 seconds over the Americans.
In the US eight, it may have been a case of too little too early, as the crew spotted the field almost a length in the first 500 meters, arriving at the quarter-way point in sixth place. They motored through the field all the way down the rest of the course, and I would say even nudged their bow into second briefly before the British eight burst through to
Adam KREEK (CAN)
"It was great, awesome. We had to attack every single stroke and turn every negative thought positive. It was a positive crew that won, and that was us! We felt like we were in control, but also in constant fear; but we managed to dispel the fear and be positive. The last 10 strokes were just pain and blackness. We are Olympic Champions! I felt pure joy flowing in my veins, I've worked eight years for this medal. We did this for Mike Spracklen, our coach. He was very emotional before the race."
Alastair HEATHCOTE (GBR)
"I'm pretty tired! A bit disappointed to be honest. I thought we had Canada, but in the end we just didn't have enough. In the last 200m it was just primeval rowing, just guts in the end. We normally just go off hard and settle into our race rhythm, but it was not enough. The Canadians were just too far ahead in the first 1000m. We usually rely on strong race rhythm but it wasn't enough. After this I'm going to catch up with all the socialising I've not done in the last two years - I've ignored a lot of friends."
Josh WEST (GBR)
"We're a bit disappointed to be honest, because we were going for gold. We didn't get it and it's frustrating because we didn't row the best we can; but all credit to the Canadians - they rowed a great race and took it to us. To be on the podium is still very exciting though, and it's great to be here. This goes a long way to making up for Athens; it's a very different experience to be near the front rather than at the back."
Wyatt ALLEN (USA)
"This one felt like a very hard battle. Canada was an amazing crew - hats off! I can't complain about getting bronze."
Bryan VOLPENHEIN (USA)
"I'm really happy, I was really excited to get out there today. I'm not disappointed with bronze. It's always good to come away with a medal."
Josh INMAN (USA)
"It was great to come away with my first medal, I'm looking forward to some more racing."
Dan WALSH (USA)
"It's been pretty incredible. We had a rough heat but we came together as a team, and that's the Olympic spirit. You persevere and you end up on the podium."
The US women's eight couldn't really have done anything any better; they won this one wire to wire, and had the advantage the whole way of watching the race unfold behind them. There was a lot going on back there; check out the splits and you'll see a lot of position changes, big pushes (see the Canadian third 500), and a major windup sprint from the Dutch crew that took them from fourth to second in the final 35 strokes. The US crew, which if you listen to our audio files has been getting inspiration from the 1984 US eight, the last to win gold, rowed an inspired race and put it all together today. Few were surprised, but it ain't that easy to do, and was a great performance to watch.
The Romanian crew, gold medalists the past three Olympics, were visibly disappointed with bronze. After yesterday's gold in the pair, had Andrunache won today, she would have had six Olympic gold medals, more than any other rower; this year she'll have to settle for a tie with Lipa and Redgrave.
Anna GOODALE (USA)
"From the first stroke on we had the utmost confidence in each other. At 1000m I looked round and saw that we were first and felt that we could keep going. At the end it was 30 seconds of pure joy until the pain set in."
Elle LOGAN (USA)
"Five years ago I wasn't even rowing! I've never experienced this feeling before; I don't know what it is. I love the girls; I love that boat."
Susan FRANCIA (USA)
"Our start was flawless - exactly like we wanted. We've been so inspired by the record the USA has in this event. After Japan 2005 where we finished outside of the medals by an inch, we knew we could achieve great things. I looked over and saw we had crossed the finish line, and I was done. I just put my blade on the water and my hands in the air."
Anne CUMMINS (USA)
"I just heard Mary saying 'Let the Hunter (the name of their boat) go', just let it run. We knew Romania would be good; they've just won gold in the pair. We worked together as one. I feel similar to how I did after Athens, after we won silver. I had no regrets, but I wondered what would happen if I work every day for four years, and this is it. This time I feel complete."
Nienke KINGMA (NED)
"I looked sideways at the finish and knew we had a medal, but not which one. It's my first Olympics and it's great. We're going to have a little beer party with the Dutch fans now."
Unlike most other events today, in the women's quad, however, the prospect of what might have been has already settled upon the minds of the British women's quad. Just minutes after the race, silver medalist GB stroke Katherine Grainger, an extraordinary competitor who missed gold by a place in Athens as well, already said "I believe if we did it again we could do it (win). I want to go back to the start and try again." These are the stakes when you decide in advance that there is only one medal you can accept; the British crew had definitely committed themselves to gold, and came up short, and the pain of it all was unmistakable, despite the vaunted location on a Olympic medals podium.
Bin TANG (CHN)
"This was our best race; they put as lot of pressure on us. We just wanted to race our best - it's like a dream."
Annie VERNON (GBR)
"I feel empty. It just wasn't enough at the end."
Britta OPPELT (GER)
"We're not absolutely happy with the bronze medal; we would have liked to have done better. But a medal is good. We weren't surprised by the Chinese because they have been very strong this season."
The Polish crew clearly got the message this summer after losing a couple World Cups, including to the American crew in Lucerne. The US crew had to settle for fifth today, while the Poles ran away with the race - the stroke seat even paddled two strokes before the line, they were so firmly in first.
Michal JELINSKI (POL)
"I'm very proud to have won an Olympic Gold. It's the most fantastic and important thing that has happened to me. I'm the happiest man in the whole world."
Luca AGAMENNONI (ITA)
"We thought the race would be more simple than that, we wanted to stay with Poland until the end, but we weren't able to. It is a great result."
Simone VENIER (ITA)
"That was so tough because France and Australia were very strong. By the time we came into the last 500m we were already very tired, and the boat was not moving that fast. But we kept it up. At the 1000m or 1200m mark we realised we were unable to get Poland, so we decided to defend our medal position."
Jonathan COEFFIC (FRA)
"It was a very hard race. Poland has been very strong for the past three years, but we knew we could win a medal. My crewmates will continue rowing for sure, but I don't know what I'll do next."
Pierre-Jean PELTIER (FRA)
"There are no words to describe what it is like to get a medal at the Olympic Games. At the finish we thought we were 4th, and I thought I'd have to do another four years to get a medal! The semifinal was not our best race and we came much more relaxed for the Final."
Light men's four
Just before the men's quad race, the Polish light men's four nabbed a silver, making one of the few times likely anyone has ever seen a Polish crew on an Olympic podium in back to back events. Almost inevitably the Danes won the event; they have so much stick to their hold on the water, and drive at the blade so aggressively, that you're going to have to do something special to counter that. And it doesn't hurt that they have guys who can go just over 6 minutes on the erg. They've been on or near the top for a long time; you wonder if they're thinking it's time to go out on top. Time will tell. Note that the Danish four includes one of the best names of the regatta: Mads Christian Andersen.
Mads ANDERSEN (DEN)
"It feels great. We were leading from start to finish and that's the way to win an Olympic medal. It'd be a lie to say I was never in any doubt, but I thought we would be able to do it in the end. It truly is a Danish fairy tale. My lucky charms? These biceps."
Pawel RANDA (POL)
"This is a huge miracle. The first 1000m were pretty hard, but the rest of the race was exactly like the semifinal. Denmark are truly amazing. After this I'm going on a big holiday with my girlfriend."
Light men's double
British 22- year old Zac Purchase and his partner Mark Hunter won bronze at Worlds last year, but haven't lost since, and today was no exception. Although they even-split the last three 500s, their racing effort was anything but cool - they raced hotter and hotter with every stroke right to the end. Both the Greek and Danish doubles had faster sprints, but by then the damage had been done, and the Brits took the gold with obvious glee and fellow-feeling.
Zac PURCHASE (GBR)
"We put in the hard work when it was needed, so that we could enjoy the last 250m; all according to the race plan. There was no panic. The whole British team is doing so well, with the rowing yesterday, and the swimming and the cycling, and I hope it continues in the second week. It bodes well for four years' time."
Dimitrios MOUGIOS (GRE)
"That was a very satisfactory race; this is my first Olympic Games and it's great to have a medal. We had a good final sprint - if there had been 50m more left we might have won. But now we can't say anything; GBR won and we were second."
Rasmus QUIST (DEN)
"Of course you're never satisfied if you're 2nd or 3rd, but it hasn't been working well for us this season. I guess this is the best race we've had this year. We had a very good first 1000m but couldn't go any faster after that. Of course, as World Champions we are disappointed to be third. We've been together for 8 years already. Mads (Rasmussen) is going to take a year off and I'm going to try something else - perhaps the LM4-."
Light women's double
Finally, the Dutch lightweight women completed their long road back to defend their Olympic championship from 2004; remember the crew only even qualified to row at these Olympics through the sudden death race in Poznan back in July. Their effort here appeared almost professional in nature - they were in sixth at the first 500 marker, fourth at the halfway point, second with 500 to go, won by 1.29, and had only two seconds difference between their slowest and fastest splits - although it may have only looked that way: after the race both said they knew they would have to race over their heads to win, and pulled it off. The Finnish crew followed in second, and the Canadians benefited from a last stroke surge to take bronze by 0.04 from the Germans.
Kirsten VAN DER KOLK (NED)
"It's great! It's the race we raced over and over in our heads and we did it to perfection here. We kept our heads cool. The gold shoes in the boat definitely helped. We've had them there since December and in every training session thought 'Gold, gold, gold!'"
Marit VAN EUPEN (NED)
"Kirsten reminded me at the start 'Gold shoes, golden race'."
Tracy CAMERON (CAN)
"I thought we had the bronze - I saw the big surge. 4/100ths of a second!! We stayed efficient and effective through the middle 1000m and had a fairly effective start. We knew in the last 500m we had to dig a lot deeper. We've enjoyed rowing with each other - it's been fun."
Melanie KOK (CAN)
"I'm ecstatic - it's an amazing result. We've put something on the board for Canada. Let's keep the momentum going."
Chrysi BISKITZI (GRE)
"We were really happy to be in the Final; we're a very stable crew and have been finalists for the past three years. Of course we hoped for something better, but it's hard to win the fight for medals. We'll definitely be at the European Championships in Athens."
As our Olympics coverage comes to a close, we hope you return over time to all the features we have brought you this week and the past several months, including all the NSR, trials, team gallery, streaming audio and video, and other coverage; nowhere else on Earth can you get this much rowing coverage in one place, every day without an admission fee, and we hope you have enjoyed it.
Light women's double
Kirsten van der Kolk NED
I think we just did what we had to do. We know we are the best, and if you are the best, then it will happen. It was a good race, we did what we planned to do after a lot of years training. Everybody hoped for the gold.
Sanna Sten FIN
I'm very satisfied, this was a great finish after five years of practicing. At the start we were very excited, but I always think we should enjoy the race. This is the key.
Xu Dongxiang CHN
We wanted to catch up in the second and third stages of the race but unfortunately we failed. I guess it's my last Olympics. On china's poor performance Saturday: they didn't perform very well yesterday, we discussed it last night. I don't think their performance had an impact on ours today.
Yu Hua CHN
I think some of the mistakes we made during the final have something to do with the lack of training. We really worked hard for the 2008 Olympics. I haven't thought about going for London yet.
Tracy Cameron CAN
I think we just wanted to execute our race plan, our last 500 meters is usually slow compared to the rest of the field and we were looking to improve on that. We hope it is one of many for Canada. You just have to close your eyes, believe in the training that you've had, believe in yourself and just go, and that's what we did.
Melanie Kok CAN
To get an Olympic medal is hard to do, so we're happy to get there. I think everyone must have been ecstatic for Scott and Dave yesterday. It didn't change much from our perspective, we just wanted to come out and do our best.
Light men's double
Mark Hunter GB
I've been dying for this day since I started rowing. The national anthem, the flag. It's a dream come true. On winning their 13th event this season: That's amazing - who said 13 is an unlucky number? The last couple years have been dynamite. This fella (Purchase) popped up and it's just a dream partnership.
Zac Purchase GBR
The lsat 200m were just a case of 'keep going.' In october we said we wanted to come here and win, and now we have. The last 10 years have come down to six minutes of hell, but it was all worth it.
Mads Reinholdt Rasmussen DEN
After last season we said that the only thing we wanted from the Olympic Games was a gold. Then we had a really bad start to this season, we struggled to find rhythm and speed. So in the end we are not disappointed with bronze. There were two teams that can row faster than us I guess.
Nasmus Hansen (DEN)
We are satisfied, we have been rowing well for the last two years and this was our best race for a while. Of course we are disappointed not to take the gold, but we are happy anyway.
Dimitrios Mougios GRE
We are satisfied with the silver. It's my first Olympics and my first medal. I feel it's an enormous success for me. I think we were just a few meters different from each other, but of course we are still happy about getting second place.
Everything went as planned, our tactic was to keep a stable place a give it a big push at the finish. Afer 1500m we were pretty sure we would get a medal. For three years we've worked very had to get here and our coach (Italian Giovanni Postilione) has always made us work hard, we are so pleased.
Light men's four
Eskild Ebbesen DEN
I love to row - work with everything that makes the boat go fast. The teamwork, the physique - I'm just happy to be at the Olympics.
Mads Christian Andersen DEN
It was great from the start to the end of the race - bit different from the last competitions, but every competition is different. I was not sure but I wsa really hoping to arrive at the end and win a medal.
Milosz Bernatajtys POL
We didn't want to be behind after 1000m, but we were. However, we were able to reaing the distance and as a result win the silver medal.
Pawel Randa POL
This is the biggest success of my career. No one believed in us but we've got silver. On the koala toy he was wearing: It was given to me by my sister for good luck. It's been lucky for her in all her exams and now it's been very lucky for me too. We needed to control our strength up until 1800m, then we needed to go full throttle. We accelerated and the team responded very well.
Iain Brambell CAN
I think there is a lot of emotion going into any Olympic event. Certainly our number one aim was to come here and stand on the podium. This is the first opportunity we've had where our coach has allowed us to train to Olympic standard and also have families.
I had an idea we weren't winning, I knew we weren't last but we just closed our eyes and kept rowing. We knew we had a good 500 meter sprint at the end, we weren't relying on it today but we were glad it was there. We had a quick start, a good strong rhythm in the last 600 meters we exploded. We had to put everything out there today, it was a dogfight.
Mike Lewis CAN
I know it's not gold or silver but I feel like we won. They system for rowing in Canada is really strong. Bent Jenson (coach) has medaled in each Olympics (the last four) and we would not be on the podium without him. He said 'use your legs, you walk on them, so use them'
Liam Parsons CAN
Whenever anyone has a good session, you're happy for them. We do have moments where we are antagonistic toward each other, but we have the same goals and are a very supportive group.
Jin Ziwei CHN
I'm very proud to make a contribution to China's rowing. I'm very excited and very happy to realize the dream of getting a gold medal. I'd like to extend my thanks to our coaches and my partners and allthe audience who supported us. Our sole goal was to get a gold medal.
Xi Aihua CHN Rowing is a sport which the Europeans have been good at for a long time, but we proved the Chinese can also do well in this sport. If we have the chance we will go on, we have very good teamwork.
Kathrin Boron GRE
We had higher goals than the bronze medal, but winning bronze is still winning a medal at the Olympics. Without certainty I would like to carry on for London 2012. however, we'll see in four years time.
Then later: this will be my last competition for Germany.
Katherine Grainger GB
We always said silver wouldn't be good enough for us. It's going to be hard to come to terms with another silver. I'm so proud to race with this crew, we felt so strong in the last 500, but we just weren't able to latch it together. Most of the race we were the best crew but not at the end.
Annie Vernon GBR
We really believed we could do it, we're so disappointed. I feel so empty.
Michal Jelinski POL
I feel great because we know that the lsat three world championships are very important but a little bit less than an Olympic gold medal. On celebrating: drinking, relaxing, and going on holiday.
Marek Kolbowicz POL
We were really strong form the beginning to the end and nobody could beat us. At 300 meters, we could have done with more power but we kept it strong.
Jonathan Coeffic FRA
When you're going fast, the most important thing is to stay straight.
Pierre-Jean Peltier FRA
I was sure we could come back with a medal. Actually, we were trying to stay in position and I didn't realize where we were in the last 100m, I thought we were in fourth position.
No, it wasn't a dream - we were on the podium last year. We were in fourth place and finally passed them (Australia); I gave everything I had.
Cedric Berrest FRA
This is not an end in itself but it is an amateur sport. Once it is done, we are going back to our normal lives. Three of us are going back to finish our studies. I'm sure we won't be getting stopped for autographs on the street.
Rossano Galtarossa ITA
The Italian rowing expedition in Beijing was a disappointment unti now. Not because of the quality of our athletes, but because of everybody else being too competitive. After the semifinal, there was a negative feeling around us. It was hard to concentrate for the final. On Sunday, we tried to break those feelings about us. It's like revenge. We tried to transform the tension and frustration of the semifinal into motivation for the final. We've never won silver before and now we have it. We came to Beijing looking for the maximum result, and this competition really completes a beautiful four years for us.
Simone Raineri ITA
It was a great race, I'm really happy. We've ended the last four years training in a great way. I want to say thanks to everybody that supported us. It's like the renaissance. After Athens most people didn't believe in me anymore, but with this competition I hope to change their minds again. I hope that they will continue to believe in us.
Anna Cummins USA
We rowed a boat called The Hunter, and we hunted everyone down all the way. We have great team spirit, the goal was to do it together, but in London I'm going to cheer them on.
Mary Whipple USA
We weren't afraid and on the day we did it. This is the first time since 1984 and we are making history. This is for the 1984 girls.
Marlies Smulders NED
We knew if we raced a perfect race things were possible. We kept trying really hard until the end, and it feels great to come away with a medal. We've been working really hard together- we know that individually we have good technique, but the most important thing is that today we stuck together and it's paid off.
Roline Repelaer van Driel NED
I can't believe it yet - I was really nervous. We knew we were rowing really well but tha the others were to . in the last 500m we really had to sprint - we knew it was now or never.
Viorica Susanu ROU
The competition today was even better than Athens but we don't know what happened. The Americans are young than the Dutch but they won the gold. I was too tired after yesterday's competition and it was hard for me to race again today. But we've won a medal and we hope to improve for the next Olympics.
Eniko Barabas ROU)
Romania has own the gold medal for so many years and we had hoped to do the same.
Brian Price CAN
I kept telling them it wasn't enough, and they never stopped. We made it one seat, then two, then threee. After that we just kept on fighting for inches.
Jake Wetzel CAN
It's not about redemption - it's about winning. We are the best in the world for the next four years.
Ben Rutledge CAN
On being the first team since 1980 to win Olympic gold while reigning world champions: actually that was one of the final things we talked about last night in our meeting. We wanted to put two things to rest - first was our performance in Athens, and second we wanted to be the first crew to win Olympic gold while being world champions.
Alastair Heathcote GBR
It was in our minds that we'd come through and beat the Canadians at some point but we didn't. It came down to great force and a gutsy performance. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite there to beat them. I'm disappointed to be honest; I thought we had the Canadians but it turns out we didn't have enough left in the tanks. Usually what we've done before is gone off at a pace that no one's been able to keep up to, but the Canadians got too far ahead this time. On his plans: I'm going to rebuild my friendships. I've got a lot of bridges to build as over the last two years I've been doing so much training.
Josh West GBR
To be honest I'm a little disappointed. We were out there racing for the gold but silver's still amazing. It's a very different experience being out there at the top rather than at the bottom (as in Athens).