Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, Mapo, Shunyi
Date Started: August 10, 2008
Date Finished: August 17, 2008
Germany, East or unified, had not lost an Olympic final in women’s quadruple sculls since the event debuted in 1988, but had not won a World Championship since capturing all but one between 1985 and 2002. The new global power in the event was Great Britain, runner-up at the last two Olympics and winner of the last three World Championships, with Germany always trailing in second (2005 and 2007) or third (2006). At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Britain was represented by its reigning World Championship crew, Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton, Katherine Grainger, all of whom except Vernon were previous Olympic medalists in various disciplines. Germany’s lineup was similar, as only Stephanie Schiller was an Olympic rookie, while Britta Oppelt, Manuela Lutze, and Kathrin Boron all had Olympic medals.
Great Britain and Germany were placed in the same heat in the opening round, with the former coming out on top with a margin of over a second and a half. The fastest finish, however, went to China, who crew included three members from their 2007 World bronze medal-winning squad, Tang Bin, Jin Ziwei, and Xi Aihua, augmented by Zhang Yangyang. China maintained its strength through the final and, to the surprise of many, unleashed a massive drive near the end of the race and passed the Britons, who had been leading the entire time, to steal the gold medal, its first ever in Olympic rowing. Thus Great Britain had to settle once again for silver, while the Germans lost an Olympic final for the first time and took home bronze instead.