London, Ont., has a reason to be proud after the city gained another gold medal connection to the Tokyo Olympics.
On Friday, Canada put on a dominant performance to be crowned Olympic champions in women’s eight rowing for the first time since 1992.
The team, consisting Lisa Roman, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Christine Roper, Andrea Proske, Susanne Grainger, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Avalon Wasteneys and Kristen Kit, held a lead throughout the entire 2000-metre course, finishing nearly a full second ahead of silver medalist New Zealand.
Along with London-born Grainger, another local connection can be found in Langley, B.C.-born Roman, who, like her champion colleague, is affiliated with the London Western Rowing Club.
“As the race was going on, I was texting pretty much everyone I know in the rowing community, and everyone was locked to their TVs,” said club manager Erin Alizadeh, who described the team’s performance as phenomenal.
“Eight’s are usually one of the tightest races you’ll see out on the water — even just one or two strokes in the middle can really change the outcome of it — and the women were smart, they went out as hard as they could and they got that lead right out of the start.”
“They just held on the whole time, they really didn’t let up and you could see how much their fitness played into that the entire race.”
Having formerly housed Rowing Canada’s National Training Centre for more than 30 years, Alizadeh says the London rowing club has always been a well of inspiration.
“For a lot of our younger athletes, they constantly saw the national team training on the lake with them and that’s where they said, ‘I want to be there, I want to be the next Olympian,'” Alizadeh said.
“Other than that, we’ve had phenomenal coaches and we really can’t think them enough.”
As of Friday afternoon, London shares a connection with two out of Canada’s three gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Last weekend, London-native Maggie Mac Neil captured the country’s first gold medal when she won the women’s 100-metre butterfly with a time of 55.59 seconds.
Global News has compiled a full schedule for all London and area athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympics which can be found by clicking this link to the story.