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STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford rowers celebrated another successful day on the international stage at the FISA World Rowing Under 23 Championships Sunday in Brandenburg, Germany. U.S. Men's Eight rowers Alex Osborne `09 and Silas Stafford `08 captured gold medals, and Jessi Reel `08 took home the gold as part of the U.S. Women's Eight boat that rowed to a 3.71-second victory over runner-up Poland. Steph Morrison `08, part of Canada's Women's Eight, made a late charge to finish fourth in the "A" Final, missing a bronze medal by just under three seconds.
"We are so proud of Silas and Alex," said Stanford Director of Rowing and Men's Head Coach Craig Amerkhanian. "This is their second year in the U.S. Eight, and they and their teammates represented well."
Osborne and Stafford, two of three returning members from last year's U.S. crew that finished fourth, were part of a U.S. Men's Eight effort that dominated the competition, sweeping to victories in Friday's opening heat, Saturday's semifinal, and finally in the "A" Final Sunday. The American boat overcame a slow start to pull past Canada in the second 500 and go on to the heat victory, then in the semifinals on Saturday, overtook Australia and held off a Polish charge in the final 500 to advance to Sunday's final.
There, the Poles were the fastest off the mark, getting out to a slim lead of just under a second over defending champion Estonia and the U.S. after the opening 500 meters. But in keeping with the trend of the weekend, the U.S. boat stormed ahead in the second 500, overtaking both Eastern European crews and holding the lead by 1.42 seconds over the Poles and just under three seconds over the third-place Canadian crew, as Estonia slipped to fourth. The U.S. continued to surge over the final half of the race, extending its lead to 3.87 seconds over the now-second-place Canadian crew after 1,500 meters, and at the finish, that lead stayed nearly intact, as the U.S. captured the gold with a final time of 5:49.42, 3.88 seconds ahead of Canada.
On the Women's Eight side of the competition, the U.S. captured its Friday heat in a time of 6:35.98, good for a 3.34-second win over runner-up Poland.
In Sunday's final, the Poles were the fastest off the mark, getting out to a lead of just over a second on the Americans. But the U.S. boat stormed ahead in the second 500, leading by 0.82 of a second at the 1,000-meter mark. From there, it became a two-boat race, as the U.S. increased its lead over Poland to 2.62 seconds and 8.40 second over third-place Belarus at the 1,500-meter mark. Over the final 500, the U.S. continued to surge, adding a second to its lead over the Poles and crossing the line with a gold medal-winning time of 6:36.01, 3.71 seconds better than runner-up Poland.
The Canadian Women's Eight, with Morrison on the crew, began Sunday's final third off the mark, 2.21 seconds off the Poles' pace, and 1.16 behind the U.S. crew. Although the Canadians fell to fifth by the 1,000 and 1,500-meter marks, the boat made a final surge in the final 500 to overtake the German crew and take fourth place with a time of 6:46.22, 0.24 of a second ahead of Germany.