Aug. 1, 2012
ETON DORNEY, United Kingdom - Conlin McCabe, Rob Gibson and Will Crothers have all won National Championships as Husky rowers. Now the decorated trio can add Olympic medalists to their growing resumes.
The Canadian men's eight won silver at the 2012 London Olympics on Wednesday morning, using a well-executed sprint in the final 500 meters to cruise past host Great Britain for second place. Germany, which has yet to lose a race in a major competition since 2008, won gold.
"Proud to be Canadian & a HUSKY," Gibson tweeted moments after the final. "Thank you everyone for all the support. Means the world to me."
The United States, which was powered by a pair of Huskies in Giuseppe Lanzone and Brett Newlin, finished fourth. Despite dropping to sixth in the second 500, the Americans were able to claw back into the race with the fastest third 500 of the six competing crews. With Newlin setting the tempo at stroke, the USA passed both Australia and the Netherlands, and was just inches away from edging Great Britain for a podium spot.
Crothers remarked after the race it was one of the fastest finals he'd ever been a part of. And the splits reflected those comments. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth-place crews all finished at nearly the same moment, separated by microscopic intervals.
Canada posted a time of 5:49.98 on the 2,000-meter course on Dorney Lake in suburban London, just over a second behind the first-place Germans. It was a gutsy effort for a crew who began their Olympics with a lackluster performance in the heats, and then had to qualify for the finals out of the repechage. Not quite the effort many were expecting from the defending gold medalists.
Nearly 30,000 fans bracketed the Dorney Lake course, providing for one of the most intense rowing environments the sport has seen. McCabe joked to reporters afterwards that it was louder than a lot of the ice hockey games back home in Canada. "There was some serious noise to bring you home," McCabe told Row2k.com.
Unlike the heat, Canada didn't try to match the Germans at the start of the finals. Instead, the Canadians rowed true to the style of their personnel, lurking in the pack before picking off crews at the finish. When Crothers stroked Washington to a National Championship in 2009, the Kingston, Ontario, native used a similar tactic to help the Huskies slingshot past Stanford and California at the finish.
Washington has long held a tradition of developing top-end Canadian talent. But this marked just the third occasion a rower with UW ties has medaled for Canada, going back to Blair Horn's gold medal with the M8+ in the 1984 Games and Dave Calder's silver in 2008 in the pair.
While this was the first Olympic medal for the trio of Huskies who rowed for the Canadian eight, each has factored into some significant achievements as Washington oarsmen. Gibson and Crothers were part of two IRA titles (2007 and 2009) with UW, while McCabe assisted the Huskies to a win in 2011. The 21-year-old McCabe will return to Washington next season as a senior.
There are still two more opportunities for Huskies to medal for Canada. On Friday, Calder will race for a repeat medal in the pair final. And on Saturday, Anthony Jacob will race in the final of the open four.
Olympic Men's Eight, Grand Final Results
Great Britain 5:51.18
United States 5:51.48