The U.S. eight will go after gold medals Sunday on the final day of the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Both the men’s and women’s eight boats qualified for the finals with impressive victories in heat races Wednesday. The men’s boat missed a world record by just 0.52 seconds and edged Australia by .05 seconds in the qualifying race.
“It was a fun race — a lot of boats out there going pretty quick,” said crew member Glenn Ochal, a two-time Olympian and 2016 bronze medalist.
The U.S. women’s eight boat also advanced directly to the final by winning its qualifying heat in 5:56.68, defeating runner-up Netherlands by nearly three seconds.
“It felt really awesome,” said 2016 Olympic gold medalist Katelin Guregian, the coxswain.
The women are trying to win a gold medal after having their streak of eight consecutive world championships broken by a fourth-place finish last year in Sarasota, Florida. Combined, they had won every Olympic and world title since 2006.
The men’s and women’s eights finals on Sundays are just a piece of the world championships, which feature finals on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Nearly 950 athletes from 62 countries are competing in the world championships, and the U.S. has the largest team with crews in 27 of 29 categories in Olympic and Paralympic classes. The U.S. team totals 72 with 42 of them returnees from the 2017 world championships.
Among those in Friday’s finals are Jennifer Sager and Jillian Zieff in lightweight women’s pair. They finished runner-up to Italy in Wednesday’s prelims, and will go head to head again on Friday.
TV: 12:30 a.m. Sunday, NBCSN; 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. ET Friday, 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Saturday, 6 a.m. Sunday, Olympic Channel