Best of 2021: Return to gold medal in women’s rowing – Team Canada


Our Best of 2021 series summarizes the incredible achievements of Canadian athletes over the past year. See the full list here.

Canada has a long track record in rowing, but on the road to Tokyo 2020 it was 13 years without Olympic gold in the sport and 25 years since a women’s team made the podium.

The drought ended dominantly on day 7. Despite torn competition and training plans in the run-up to the games and a long way to the Olympic final, the Canadian eight women did not want to be satisfied with less than first place.

Rowing team celebrates victory
The Canadian rowers Lisa Roman Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Christine Roper, Andrea Proske, Susanne Grainger, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Avalon Wasteneys and Kristen Kit celebrate after winning the gold medal in the women’s eight during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on Friday, July 30th, 2021. Photo by Leah Hennel / COC * MANDATORY CREDIT *

Here is a quick recap of Canada’s outstanding rowing performance in Tokyo 2020:

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no member of the women’s eighth has raced internationally for almost two years since the 2019 World Championships, in which the Canadian boat took fourth place.

The crew of Lisa Roman, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Christine Roper, Andrea Proske, Susanne Grainger, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Avalon Wasteneys and helmsman Kristen Kit came second in their run, which forced them to a glimmer of hope. But they showed their skills by setting a Canadian record time of 5: 53.73 minutes to advance to the final.

READ: Team Canada Women’s Eight wins rowing gold in Tokyo 2020

In this final they blew away from the start and did not give up their lead over the 2000 meters. It was Canada’s first gold in women’s eighth since Barcelona in 1992 and the first gold in a women’s Olympic rowing competition since Atlanta in 1996.

READ: Belief in the crew makes the eight of Canadian women celebrate gold in Tokyo 2020

This win was followed by a bronze medal from Caileigh Filmer & Hillary Janssens in the women. The 2018 world champions had set their own Canadian record in the semifinals. It was Canada’s first women’s Olympic medal since Barcelona in 1992.

Filmer and Janssens look over their shoulder
The Canadian rowers Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens will compete in the women’s pair finals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on Thursday, July 29, 2021. Photo by Stephen Hosier / COC

READ: Filmer & Janssens win Canada’s first 2020 Tokyo Rowing Medal

Everyone suffered injuries leading up to the Games. Filmer broke his collarbone in a bicycle accident in October, while Janssens was out of the water for three months with a back injury. With the majority of her fitness training taking place on the stationary bike, earning a spot on the podium was a remarkable achievement.

READ: Fitness and friendship drive Filmer and Janssens onto the podium

Tokyo 2020 was marked by historic accomplishments by Canadian women, and the rowing team embodied it when 11 of them stepped onto the podium. The two medals won in Tokyo 2020 brought Rowing Canada’s Olympic medal table to 43.


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