Host City: Roma, Italy
Venue(s): Albano Lake, Castel Gandolfo
Date Started: August 31, 1960
Date Finished: September 3, 1960
Since it had first been contested in 1900, the United States had never lost an Olympic coxed eights final (Great Britain won in 1908 and 1912 when the Americans did not submit a crew) and, with no strong favorites from Europe, seemed poised once again to capture the title. In Rome the nation was represented by rowers from the United States Navy. Italy was a possible contender, having won the 1957 and 1958 European Championships, but it was Germany that most observers had their eye on, as they sent their 1959 European Championship-winning lineup to the 1960 Olympics. This crew was known as the “Ratzeburg” crew, even though their members came from both the Ratzeburg and Ditmarsia Kiel clubs, and their prowess was attributed partially to their new oar design. Finally there were the Canadians, who had won the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games and been runners-up at the 1959 Pan American Games. Still, even with this slightly more open field, few could have predicted the final result.
The first shock came in the opening round, when the Canadians defeated their southern neighbors by nearly five seconds while, in another heat, the Germans also outperformed the Americans’ time by over four seconds and France was only 0.02 seconds off of the United States’ time. This forced the defending champions into a repêchage where, perhaps conserving their strength, they won their heat in a notably slow time and faced a legitimate challenge from Great Britain. Yet even if spectators might have predicted that the United States would finally be dethroned, they almost certainly could not have guessed that the country who had reigned supreme in the coxed eights for several decades would finish off the podium. The Germans, however, were clearly dominant and finished four seconds ahead of the Canadians, who took silver. Bronze went to Czechslovakia, the 1959 European runners-up, while the United States finished in fifth, nearly 11 seconds behind the gold-medal winning German crew, losing an Olympic final in the coxed eights for the first time in 60 years.
|2 h1 r2/3||Japan||JPN|
|2 h2 r2/3||Soviet Union||URS|
|2 h3 r2/3||Great Britain||GBR|
|3 h1 r2/3||Switzerland||SUI|
|3 h2 r2/3||United Arab Republic||UAR|
|3 h3 r2/3||Sweden||SWE|
|4 h1 r2/3||Australia||AUS|
|4 h2 r2/3||Spain||ESP|