Sept. 22, 2002
SEVILLE, Spain - Former Huskies Mary Whipple and Anna Mickelson helped the United States' women's eight crew lead wire-to-wire Sunday and brought home a gold medal on the last day of competition at the 2002 FISA World Rowing Championships in Seville, Spain.
The complete championship crew included coxswain Mary Whipple (Orangevale, Calif.), Kate MacKenzie (Novi, Mich.), Anna Mickelson (Bellevue, Wash.), Ali Cox (Turlock, Calif.), Bernadette Marten (Fortville, Ind.), Maite Urtasun (Riverside, N.J.), Caryn Davies (Ithaca, N.Y.), Dana Peirce (Richmond, Va.) and Kate Johnson (Portland, Ore.).
The United States and Australia went directly to the final after winning their respective heats. Australia had a world champion position to defend.
The U.S. boat clocked a 6:04.25 to finish 0.85 seconds ahead of the hard-charging crew from Australia and 0.94 seconds ahead of Germany.
The Americans' race plan was to be in the lead after the first 500, a plan they followed to perfection.
The United States got off to a strong start and built a 1.11-second advantage over the Romanians at the 500-meter mark. As Romania, Germany and Australia fought for second position, the U.S. crew maintained a three- to four-seat advantage as they hit the 1,250-meter mark. That's when the crew began its sprint to the finish, holding both Australia and Germany a couple of seats back for the remainder of the race.
In a nail biting finish the top three crews matched each other stroke for stroke. At the line less than a second separated these crews, United States in gold, Australia in silver and Germany in bronze.
"We came off the line pretty hard and we just never let up," MacKenzie said. "We put our foot down and said 'we're going to do this.' We challenged the crews to come with us and held on. It was amazing."
"We felt a little bit pressured in the second 1,000 meters because Germany and Australia were closing in, but we did a very good job of closing the eyes and just focusing on us," Whipple said. "That's really what got us to the line first was just focusing on us, especially the last 700 meters. Those crews were charging, but we never got frantic."
Australia won the silver medal in a time of 6:04.25, while Germany won the bronze medal in a time of 6:05.19. For the United States, it was the first medal in the women's eight since a silver-medal performance in 1999 and the first gold medal in the event since 1995.
"It feels unbelievable," said Cox about the victory. "It makes me excited for the future. It makes me proud of the hard work I've put in over the years. It makes me proud of my teammates. It makes me proud of my coach. It makes me proud to be an American."
Both Whipple and Mickelson were members of the U.S. National Team that placed fourth at the 2001 world championships in Lucerne, Switzerland. They completed their collegiate careers in June after rowing Washington's varsity eight to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2001 and 2002.
2002 FISA World Rowing Championships Results
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Final: 1. United States (Whipple, MacKenzie, Mickelson, Cox, Marten, Urtasun, Davies, Peirce, Johnson), 6:04.25; 2. Australia, 6:05.10; 3. Germany, 6:05.19; 4. Romania, 6:10.65; 5. Belarus, 6:11.18; 6. Canada, 6:11.62.