Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Misari Regatta Course, Hanam
Date Started: September 20, 1988
Date Finished: September 25, 1988
As the reigning World and Pan American champions, the United States was poised in 1988 to win a title that it had won 11 times previously, but not once since 1964: Olympic champion in the men’s coxed eights. This was especially true due to the absence of its strongest rival, East Germany, who had been runners-up at the most recent World Championships, leaving the Soviet Union, the 1985 World Champions, and Australia, the 1986 World and Commonwealth champions, as the other serious contenders. In the opening round, however, it was West Germany that surprised the spectators by putting forth a strong effort and winning their heat in the round’s fastest time. The Soviets took the other heat, while the Americans succumbed to the pressure and posted a time nearly seven seconds behind West Germany’s, only qualifying for the final through the repêchage. In the final, West Germany took a quick lead and did not relinquish it; by the end, it was in no danger of losing the gold medal. The silver medal, on the other hand, came down to an exciting photo finish between the Americans and the Soviets, which the latter won by a mere 0.25 seconds, leaving the former with bronze.