By Jerry Sullivan, Buffalo News
ETON DORNEY -- Went out to Dorney Lake today and watched the U.S. women's eight, coached by Buffalo native Tom Terhaar, win its second straight Olympic rowing gold medal.
The U.S. women haven't lost a major world race in seven years. The Americans surged off the starting line in a crosswind and finished in 6:10.59, winning with ease over the Canadian boat. The Canadians had been seen as a serious test to the U.S. streak, having lost by only .03 in a Rowing World Cup race in Lucerne earlier in the summer.
Canada fell behind by half a boat length early and the U.S. repelled its attempted charge late in the event. The Canadians crossed in 6:12.06.The Netherlands won the bronze medal in 6:13.12.
I caught up with Terhaar about two hours after the race. The team tossed him in the lake after the victory. Terhaar, a graduate of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in Buffalo, said he was nervous before the race.
"Oh, yeah. Absolutely," he said. "Just with these windy conditions and the way the races were going leading up to this, they were really close. I was pretty nervous. It's the Olympics. Anything can happen out here."
Terhaar rode a bicycle along the side of the lake while his team was pushing through the 2,000 meter course. "That helps a lot," he said.
He said he told his rowers to simply do what they train for in practice. Terhaar said it doesn't take a lot to motivate his athletes. He was asked to explain the amazing run of dominance by the American women's eight, which has flourished since he became the U.S. Olympic women's coach.
"A lot of competition all the time," he said. "We had a really good regatta. We had a brand-new pair almost get a medal, missed by three-tenths of a second. And we had a quad get a medal for the first time basically ever -- since 1984, when it was 1,000 meters. So that was a big step. So we had a lot of depth, a lot of competition. Going through that makes the really good people that much better."