Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Lake Sidney Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia
Date Started: July 22, 1996
Date Finished: July 28, 1996
The last 12 World Championship medals in the men’s coxed eights had gone to four countries: Germany (gold in 1993 and 1995), the United States (gold in 1994, bronze in 1993 and 1995), the Netherlands (silver in 1994 and 1995), and Romania (silver in 1993, bronze in 1994). The Canadians, meanwhile, were the defending Olympic champions, and two returned to the 1996 Games to help defend the crown: Darren Barber and Andy Crosby. With many distinguished rowers on each crew, the event promised to be an exciting one, but the Dutch squad was in control for the entire tournament, qualifying with the fastest time in the opening round and winning gold by a comfortable margin of almost two seconds. Among their lineup were three Olympic medalists in the double sculls: Ronald Florijn, champion in 1988, Henk Jan Zwolle, who earned bronze in 1992, and Nico Rienks, who had been both of their partners. The United States had won the other heat in round one, albeit in a slower time than the Canadians had finished in the Dutch heat, but it was the Germans who put up the strongest fight against the Netherlands in the final and thus earned silver. Somewhat more surprising was Russia’s performance, as they stole bronze from the Canadians by a margin of nearly a second and earned their first Olympic rowing medal as an independent nation (or, at least, not as the Soviet Union) since Mart Kuusik had won bronze in the single sculls in 1912 (and Kuusik was ethnically Estonian).