Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Lake Sidney Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia
Date Started: July 21, 1996
Date Finished: July 27, 1996
In addition to being the reigning World and Pan American champions in the women’s double sculls, Canadians Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle were also Olympic champions in the coxless pairs and the coxed eights, all of which made them favorites to win the double sculls at the 1996 Summer Olympics. They were likely to face strong competition from Philippa Baker and Brenda Lawson of New Zealand, the 1993 and 1994 World Champions and the 1995 bronze medalists. Germany, the defending Olympic champions, were represented by Manuela Lutze and Jana Thieme, the latter of whom was a World bronze medalist from 1994. There were two other pairs of recent World medalists at the Games: Irene Eijs and Eeke van Nes of the Netherlands were the reigning World runners-up, while Bulgaria’s Daniela Oronova and Galina Kamenova were the 1993 bronze medalists.
In the opening round, the Australian duo of Marina Hatzakis and Bronwyn Roye posted the fastest time, beating Germany and Bulgaria to the finish line. The other heats were won by Canada and the Netherlands, the latter of whom defeated the New Zealanders. The Canadians were more dominant in the semi-finals, winning their heat over four seconds faster than the other victors, Chinese duo Cao Mianying and Zhang Xiuyun. In the final, the Canadians stayed comfortably ahead enough for most of the race that they encountered no serious difficulty winning the gold medal. The Dutch, however, had to battle the Chinese to for silver, a fight that they lost by only 0.37 seconds, which left them settling for bronze instead.