Canada gets 5th place in women’s rowing eight

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Canadian women’s rowing eight had a blistering start but faded down the stretch en route to a fifth-place finish at the Rio Olympics on Saturday.

The United States won gold in six minutes 01.49 seconds while Britain was second in 6:03.98 and Romania took bronze in 6:04.10.

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Canada, which comprises Victoria’s Caileigh Filmer, Susanne Grainger of London, Ont., Natalie Mastracci of Thorold, Ont., Lisa Roman of Langley, B.C., Cristy Nurse of Georgetown, Ont., Christine Roper – a native of Jamaica who now makes her home in Canada – Antje von Seydlitz of Smithers, B.C., and Lauren Wilkinson of North Vancouver, B.C., along with veteran coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie of London, led through the first 1,000 metres but couldn’t hold off the powerhouse Americans in the second half.

They ended up with a time of 6:06.04.

The U.S. has won gold in women’s eight at every Olympics or world championships since 2006.

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In the day’s other race involving a Canadian, Carling Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., finished fourth in the women’s single sculls B final for a 10th-place overall.

The women’s eight won silver in London at the 2012 Olympics and was second again at the 2014 worlds, but dropped down to third last year and finished off the podium at a World Cup race in May.

Canada’s Cristy Nurse, Russia’s Kseniia Volkova, Canada’s Lisa Roman, Canada’s Antje Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, Canada’s Christine Roper, Canada’s Lauren Wilkinson, Canada’s Susanne Grainger, Canada’s Natalie Mastracci, Canada’s Caileigh Filmer and Canada’s Lesley Thompson-Willie row during the Women’s Eight rowing competition at the Lagoa stadium during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016.

DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

Saturday was the last day of competition in rowing at the Games before the canoe-kayak events take over Lagoa Stadium on Monday.

Rowing Canada had a disappointing showing in Brazil with just one medal from seven boats. The Victoria duo of Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee won silver in the women’s lightweight double sculls on Friday, but the men’s quadruple sculls wound up a stunning eighth after failing to make its final, while the men’s four was a distant sixth.

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Canada’s medal haul equalled the solitary silver medal won at the 2004 Games. The Canadians brought a gold, silver and bronze home in 2008 before the men’s and women’s eight each grabbed a silver in London four years ago.

But Rowing Canada shelved the men’s eight – a storied boat that also won gold in 1984, 1992 and 2008 – splitting resources to focus on the four and the quad in the lead-up to Rio.

The idea was to get a second shot at a medal and the subsequent funding from the Own the Podium program, but that plan flamed out in spectacular fashion at Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

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