Sunday, March 9, 2014
By MARK MALONEY Special to the Press Herald
DORNEY, England - All the pressure was on the Americans.
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The 2008 Olympic champions, unbeaten for nearly seven years in major international competitions, watched Canada drawing closer and closer this season.
Yet there were Eleanor Logan and the rest of the U.S. women's eight rowers back on top of the podium Thursday at Dorney Lake, site of the London Olympics rowing events.
Make it two golds in a row for the U.S., including Boothbay Harbor's Logan.
The Americans led every stroke during the finals, whipping Canada by nearly 11/2 seconds. The U.S. was clocked in 6 minutes, 10.59 seconds for 2,000 meters. Canada, in 6:12.06, was followed by the Netherlands in 6:13.12.
"This is an American dynasty, baby," said Susan Francia, who also was on the 2008 gold-medal team.
Joining Logan and Francia on this squad were Erin Carfaro, Caryn Davies, Caroline Lind, Meghan Musnicki, Taylor Ritzel, Esther Lofgren and coxswain Mary Whipple.
At 24, Logan is the third Mainer to win multiple Olympic golds, joining Ian Crocker and Seth Wescott.
Logan and Carfaro qualified to row pairs in London but turned down the opportunity to stay with the eights.
Coach Tom Terhaar, who kept the American rowers off limits to media and family except for a token appearance by Whipple after a heat victory, told his team to "just do what we do all the time, do what you do in practice."
"When that boot went down (to start), we just launched and it was game on," Whipple said. "I felt so much power."
And the power source felt such a surge.
"Our motto was 'Be greedy'," Francia said. "If we get an inch, take another inch, never just settle."
Fierce winds didn't seem to bother the Americans.
"This is the best feeling in the world. We were having the race of our lives and I was thinking just keep it going, keep it going," Lofgren said. "The conditions were a little bumpy out there, but we just kept pushing though everything. It's the best feeling in the world."
Terhaar took over as coach 12 years ago.
"Tom knows us really well," said Whipple. "He knows what buttons to push, and he knows how to motivate us. He knows when to say good job, but not good enough.
"But the best thing about Tom is that he gives us the tools to go out there, he gives us the belief that we can do it, and he really likes it when we take hold of it and make it our own."
Logan knows what went into winning this medal. Since the Beijing Games, she finished her education at Stanford (graduating in 2011 with a degree in European history) while training with the U.S. team.
She joined the team in Princeton, N.J., full time after graduation and really had only one year to train for this Olympic moment.
That's why, in the minutes after the race, she said to one U.S. Rowing official, "I feel great. It's been a lot of hard work to get here."
The work began to pay off at Dorney Lake in 2006, when the U.S. won the world championship, and it was never in doubt in Thursday's final. The Americans' only Olympic gold in the event before 2008 came at Los Angeles in 1984.
"I think it's a testament to the sheer determination and the heart of the women in the boat," Lind said. "I think that's what it comes down to, because I know that there are other women who are physically gifted and are amazing rowers, but the difference between everyone else and the American team is that we want it bad.
"We want it more, and I think that heart and togetherness, we do it as a unit, we're stronger as a unit, is what makes us different."