Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Lake Sidney Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia
Date Started: July 22, 1996
Date Finished: July 28, 1996
Germany, East or Unified, had never lost an Olympic final in the women’s coxless quadruple sculls and had won the event at eight out of the last nine World Championships. They were the overwhelming favorites at the 1996 Summer Olympics and sent a strong team that included three Olympic champions from different years and events, Jana Sorgers, Kathrin Boron, and Kerstin Köppen, augmented by Katrin Rutschow, who had helped the nation win the last two World Championships. China, meanwhile, was represented by the only crew to have defeated the Germans at the World Championships: Cao Mianying, Zhang Xiuyun, Liu Xirong, and Gu Xiaoli. Reigning Pan American champion Canada sent its 1995 World runner-up squad of Laryssa Biesenthal, Diane O'Grady, Marnie McBean, and Kathleen Heddle, the latter two of whom were 1992 Olympic champions in the coxless pairs and the coxed eights and captured a third Olympic title in the double sculls in Atlanta.
The opening heats were won by Canada and Germany, the latter of whom posted the fastest time of the round. The Germans dominated the final, winning gold by a margin of nearly three seconds, but the interesting part of the race came as the Ukrainians and the Canadians went neck and neck to the finish line and seemed to cross at the same time. A photo finish revealed that the Ukrainians had taken silver, but just barely, as the margin was only 0.02 seconds. The Canadians captured bronze, but not particularly comfortably, as the Danes had been only about half a second behind. The Ukrainian crew boasted Svitlana Maziy and Inna Frolova, runners-up from the 1988 edition of the event at the Olympics, as well as Dina Miftakhutdynova and Olena Ronzhyna, who were bronze medalists at the 1994 World Championships with Maziy, and won their country its first Olympic rowing medal as an independent nation.