Elle Logan of Boothbay Harbor savored yet another shining Olympic moment Saturday, helping the U.S. women’s eight crew win its third straight gold medal in the 2,000-meter final on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas racecourse in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The U.S. team rallied during the second half of the race to finish in 6 minutes, 1.49 seconds. Great Britain won the silver medal in 6:03.98, and Romania earned the bronze medal in the six-team finals field in 6:04.10.
Logan, a 28-year-old Stanford University graduate who has been rowing competitively since 2003, became the first U.S. women’s rower to win three consecutive gold medals, following similar championship efforts at the 2008 Beijing Games — where fellow Mainer Anna Goodale of Camden also was part of the U.S. crew — and at the London Games in 2012.
“The reason why I think we performed to the best of our ability today is we focused on this group, the nine of us,” Logan told TeamUSA.org. “We kept saying over and over and we believe in our hearts [that] if we focus on the nine of us and believe in us, then we would perform to the best of our ability.”
The U.S. became just the second nation to win gold in the women’s eight at three consecutive Olympics, following Romania in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Logan was the only U.S. crew member still competing at the Olympic level from the 2008 team and one of just two rowers back from the 2012 gold medal-winning boat, along with Meghan Musnicki of Naples, New York.
“It is a totally different experience,” said Logan during a postrace press conference. “Meghan and I have been saying that we feel so lucky and fortunate to be a part of this boat and this team.
“Their hunger to be the best we could be every single day has really pushed us to a new level that we didn’t think we had. Every day we had to look to be better ourselves.”
Logan also indicated after the race that she would not attempt to seek a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.
The U.S. women’s eight now has not lost a major competition — a world or Olympic championship meet — since 2005, with its win in Rio extending that streak to 11 consecutive titles.
Logan’s third Olympic gold medal didn’t come easily, as the heavily favored Americans were in third place at the midpoint of the final behind Canada and the Netherlands.
But the U.S. crew surged during the third 500 meters and built a 1.72-second lead over the fading Canadian boat at the 1,500-meter mark.
The U.S. maintained its lead, and while Great Britain tried to close the gap over the final 500 meters, Logan and her teammates crossed the finish line nearly a full boat-length ahead.
“This is probably the toughest boat we have ever had,” said Tom Terhaar, head coach for U.S. rowing since 2001, after the race. “They did a phenomenal job, because the field is just getting tighter and harder every single year, and that was the highest quality ever. Technically, that was their second race together, so they did an incredible job.”
Joining Logan and Musnicki on the gold-medal winning U.S. crew were coxswain Katelin Snyder of Detroit, Michigan; Amanda Elmore of West Lafayette, Indiana; Tessa Gobbo of Chesterfield, New Hampshire; Lauren Schmetterling of Moorestown, New Jersey; Amanda Polk of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Kerry Simmonds of San Diego, California; and Emily Regan of Buffalo, New York.
Logan said one key to her team’s success was its ability to focus on its goal and not rest on its past successes.
“This one practice, a couple months ago, we had to endure a rowing piece,” Logan said during the press conference. “There was a group that went before us and they were finishing their piece and everyone was giving 200 percent. There was nothing left in their effort and it was all on their faces.
“It made me think, ‘Wow, what an amazing experience to be a part of this group where everyone is just giving everything they have, every day.’ To be able to not take for granted each moment, each practice and to keep getting better is an amazing experience.”