Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Venue(s): Lagoa Stadium, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Rio de Janeiro
Date Started: August 6, 2016
Date Finished: August 11, 2016
2012 Olympic Champion in the Womenâs Double Sculls, [Katherine Grainger] of Great Britain, returned to the Games in Rio to defend her crown with a new partner, [Victoria Thornley], despite having taken a two-year break from rowing. In her absence, only New Zealand, led by [Zoe Stevenson], had appeared on the World Championship podium more than once, finishing runner-up in 2013 and taking the title in 2014 and 2015. In Rio she was partnered with the other 2015 World Champion, [Eve MacFarlane]. The reigning European Champions were Belarusâ [Tatsiana Kukhta] and [Yuliya Bichik], the latter of whom was an Olympic bronze medalist from 2004 and 2008 Olympics in the coxless pairs. More serious threats, however, were Polandâs [Natalia Madaj] and [Magdalena Fularczyk] and Lithuaniaâs [Donata ViÅ¡tartaitÄ] and [Milda ValÄiukaitÄ]. The Polish competitors were the 2013 European and 2014 World runners-up and the 2014 and 2015 European Champions, while Fularczyk was also an Olympic bronze medalist from 2012 and a 2009 World Champion. The Lithuanians were the 2013 European and World Champions and the 2014 and 2015 European runners-up.
Lithuania, Poland, and New Zealand won their preliminary heats, with the Britons coming second in the Lithuaniansâ heat and the Belarusians a distant third behind Poland. The Greek duo of [Aikaterini Nikolaidou] and [Sofia Asoumanaki], the 2015 World silver medalists, captured the first semifinal, ahead of Lithuania, but the real surprise came with the elimination of MacFarlane and Stevenson, who were edged out of Final A by Americans [Meghan O'Leary] and [Ellen Tomek] by a margin of 0.05 seconds. Poland again dominated in the second semifinal, with Great Britain nearly two seconds behind. In the final, Poland, Great Britain, and Lithuania finished in that order, relatively well spaced-out and well ahead of the rest of the pack.