Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre, Schinias National Park
Date Started: August 15, 2004
Date Finished: August 22, 2004
The Canadians had a strong claim to the Olympic men’s eights title at the 2004 Games, having won the event at the last two World Championships, while teams from Victoria, British Columbia had taken the 2002 and 2003 Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. They would not, however, go unchallenged: the United States was the reigning Pan American champion and World runner-up, the Netherlands’ Hollandia Roeiclub had taken the 2004 Grand Challenge Cup, Great Britain was the defending Olympic champion, and Romania was the 2001 World Champion. All of these nations had the potential to claim the gold medal over the favored Canadians. In the opening round, both Canada and the United States bested the world record time, with the latter coming out on top to win the heat. Australia captured the other heat in Olympic record time, although this was quickly surpassed by the Americans. In the final, the United States held the lead for most of the race, winning gold despite a last minute challenge from the Netherlands, who finished in second place. Australia’s crew was the only one anywhere near these two nations and thus captured bronze, while the Canadians struggled in the final and finished fifth. For the Americans it was a time of great celebration: although they had won the men’s coxed eights title 11 times, it had eluded them since 1964, and the excitement for its return was only enhanced by its unexpected nature.