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Rowing at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games:

Women's Single Sculls

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Barcelona, Spain
Venue(s): Lake Banyoles, Bañolas
Date Started: July 28, 1992
Date Finished: August 2, 1992

Gold: ROU Elisabeta Oleniuc-Lipă
Silver: BEL Annelies Bredael
Bronze: CAN Silken Laumann

Summary

Canada’s Silken Laumann had been the favorite to take gold in the women’s single sculls at the 1992 Summer Olympics, but her chances evaporated after she suffered what appeared to be a career-ending leg injury just two months prior to the Games. She sustained an open tibia fracture with personal nerve damage and, as she later recalled, “t]he muscles on the outside of my right leg were peeled back and hanging down to the ankle … the doctors thought I would never row again.” She did, however, manage to recover enough to compete in Barcelona, albeit walking with a cane and wearing a brace on her leg during competition, but was no longer promulgated as the favorite. That distinction now went to Romania’s [Elisabeta Lipă, a three-time Olympic medalist in the double and quadruple sculls, the 1989 World Champion, and the runner-up at the most recent World Championship. Other contenders included Annelies Bredael of Belgium, the most recent World bronze medalist, and Anne Marden of the United States, the defending Olympic runner-up. Two other competitors had medals from the 1988 Games, albeit in different events: Bulgaria’s Violeta Yordanova had won bronze in the double sculls and Germany’s Beate Schramm was a champion in the quadruple sculls.

The opening round heats were won by Marden, Bredael, and Lipă, while Laumann put forth a valiant effort in Marden’s heat and came in second, with the third-fastest time overall, behind Marden and Lipă. An even bigger surprise came in the finals, when Laumann not only won a heat against Bredael, Schramm, and Yordanova, eliminating the latter two, but did so in Olympic record time, over a second ahead of Lipă, the other heat winner. In the final, Lipă won gold and Bredael won silver, but the true victory went to Laumann who, in only two months, had transformed a career-ending injury into an Olympic bronze medal. In Bud Greenspan’s official film of the Games, he attributes the following quote to a Canadian journalist: “Canada won four gold medals and one bronze medal at Lake Banyoles. Let the word go out that on this day the bronze shone as brightly in the Barcelona sun as any of the gold.” Lipă, meanwhile, gained her fourth and fifth Olympic medals with gold and silver in the single and double sculls respectively.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Elisabeta Oleniuc-Lipă 27 Romania ROU Gold
2 Annelies Bredael 27 Belgium BEL Silver
3 Silken Laumann 27 Canada CAN Bronze
4 Anne Marden 34 United States USA
5 Maria Brandin 28 Sweden SWE
6 Corinne Le Moal 37 France FRA
7 Tonia Svaier 24 Greece GRE
8 Irene Eijs 25 Netherlands NED
9 Patricia Reid 28 Great Britain GBR
10 Violeta Ninova-Yordanova 28 Bulgaria BUL
11 Kristina Poplavskaja 21 Lithuania LTU
12 Beate Schramm 26 Germany GER
13 Katalin Sarlós 23 Hungary HUN
14 Andrea Coss 31 Australia AUS
15 Ho Kim Fai 29 Hong Kong HKG