Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Satisfied with Silver: Canada's Women's Eight Rowing Team Finishes Behind U.S

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Satisfied with Silver: Canada's Women's Eight Rowing Team Finishes Behind U.S

Article excerpt

Canada wins silver in women's eight rowing


LONDON - Lesley Thompson-Willie has seen it all during an Olympic career that spans three decades.

Cold War politics denied her a chance to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but since then the 52-year-old rower has represented Canada in seven Games, winning medals of every colour along the way.

And while the silver medal she won Thursday at the London Games as part of the women's eight crew doesn't match the gold she took home from Barcelona in 1992, it put her in a class of her own as the only Canadian athlete to win a medal in five different Olympics.

"Every crew is special but this one, they worked so hard," said Thompson-Willie, who serves as coxswain on the team.

"We went to win and didn't do it, but sure are enjoying the silver. No regrets, great race," she added.

The result gave Canada a medal for the third consecutive day at the Games, and a second rowing silver. The men's eight finished second in its final on Wednesday.

Canada sits 11th in the overall medal standings with seven (two silver, five bronze) but is still waiting for its first gold. That wait could end in the next couple of days when some of Canada's top medal hopefuls -- shot putter Dylan Armstrong and the trampoline team -- open their competitions. Other top contenders, like cyclists Tara Whitten and Catharine Pendrel, don't compete until next week.

Canadian athletes have been stronger out of the gate in London than they were four years ago in Beijing when nobody won a medal of any colour until Day 8.

The Canadian eight went into Thursday's final knowing gold was a tall order against a mighty American crew that hadn't lost in six years. And they were once again bested by their rivals, with the U.S. winning in six minutes 10.59 seconds.

Canada, which came within 0.03 seconds of the U.S. at a World Cup event earlier this year, didn't put as much of a scare into the Americans this time, finishing in 6:12.06 despite a late charge.

Still, by putting in a gruelling effort into the last 500 metres the Canadian crew ensured they would finish well ahead of the third-place Netherlands (6:13.12) and their beloved coxswain would get her unprecedented fifth medal.

"The bond that we share together is something really special that I'll always cherish," said crew member Andreanne Morin, choking up as she spoke. "I thought going out in this race today I was like 'This is her last one. She's been at this for 35 years. I'm going to do it for her.' And I gave it my all.

"That last 500 was all heart and it was for Lesley."

Now Thompson-Willie returns to her day job, which she loves. She is a high school teacher and a librarian in London, Ont.

"Back to school in September," she said. "I like my school and I like my homework."

The performance put the women's eight team back on the Olympic map after missing the podium in the last two Games. …

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