Host City: Moskva, Soviet Union
Venue(s): Canoeing and Rowing Basin, Krylatskoye Sports Complex, Moskva
Date Started: July 21, 1980
Date Finished: July 26, 1980
With one exception at the 1978 World Championships, East Germany had never failed to win gold in the coxed quadruple sculls at a major international event. At the 1980 Summer Olympics, three of the nation’s crew, Jutta Lau, Roswietha Zobelt, and Liane Weigelt-Buhr, were defending medalists from the 1976 Games, and all were heavy favorites to retain the title. The Bulgarians, who had won the 1978 World Championships and medaled at every edition except for the first, boasted four World Champions in their delegation, Anka Georgieva, Rumelyana Boncheva, Dolores Nakova, and Anka Bakova, and were augmented by Mariana Serbezova, who had helped them win silver at the Worlds in 1979. Romania had earned bronze at the last Olympics, from which Maria Micşa-Macoviciuc and Elena Giurcă returned in the hopes of a better result, as well as silver and bronze at the 1977 and 1979 World Championships respectively.
The opening heats were won by Romania and Bulgaria, the former of whom faced no serious opposition while the latter defeated both the Soviet Union, World bronze medalists in 1974, 1975, and 1978, and East Germany. In the final, however, it was the Soviets who presented a serious challenge to the East Germans and nearly got the best of them, losing gold by less than half a second and settling instead for silver. The Soviets barely escaped an even lower ranking, as the Bulgarians came in only 0.37 seconds later to take bronze in one of the most exciting and closest rowing finales of the Games.