On a Saturday afternoon on one of the largest natural lakes in France, rowers Olivia Coffey, Megan Kalmoe, Tracy Eisser and Amanda Elmore did what no other U.S. women have done before. The quartet put on a dominating performance to win Team USA its first-ever world title in women’s quadruple sculls.
Three days after being relegated to a last-chance race to even make the final at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France, Team USA rebounded to win gold for the first time in the 53-year history of the event.
“All week, we didn’t quite have the result that we wanted,” Eisser said to USRowing of the team’s second-place performances in both Monday’s heat and Wednesday’s repechage. “So we were working pretty hard in the last few days to make sure we could come out and do exactly what we wanted, leave it all on the water. I’m really happy we were able to do exactly what we wanted.”
When it mattered most, the team came together to beat out a field that included three-time defending world champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Germany. The Germans led the race from the start but the Americans were able to keep up and quickly assert themselves as the faster team, even as the wind picked up.
“We went out there and just laid down from the first stroke, which is what we wanted to do,” Coffey said. “We wanted to be aggressive from the start and it was and I could feel it through the first 500 meters, when we were with the pack. I just had this sense that we were going for it and it went from there.”
Team USA won in a time of 6:27.070, with Germany finishing in 6:28.410 and the Netherlands taking bronze in 6:29.690. The medal marked Team USA’s second gold medal of the world championships. The first came from Kristine O’Brien, Grace Latz, Adrienne Martelli and Grace Luczak in the non-Olympic women’s four.
The women’s quadruple sculls’ win also secured the U.S. a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as the top five teams from worlds qualify for the Olympics. Three of the four members of the world champion boat will be looking to make their first Olympic team in 2016, while Kalmoe won bronze in the quad at the London 2012 Games.
In other rowing action Saturday, the U.S. women’s pair of Felice Mueller and Eleanor Logan won bronze in the women’s pair, also qualifying the boat for Rio.
“We both learn a lot from each other and work well together,” said Logan, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the women’s eight. “I’m lucky to have such a partner.”
The U.S. has qualified seven of 14 boats for the Olympics and three of four boats for the Paralympics at this week’s world championships, with the lightweight men’s four and women’s eight still to be determined on Sunday.