The night before they went for gold, the Canadian women’s eight met and made a solemn pledge.
Others might measure their success by a different standard. But as long as they maintained their trust in each other, as long as they performed as a team, and as long as they expended every last joule of energy in their beings, they would be satisfied with their race.
On Thursday, they met every one of their goals. The silver medals that hung around their necks was just a happy by-product of all that.
“I had so much trust in the work we’ve done,” said Richmond’s Darcy Marquardt, one of the boat’s leaders and a medalist, finally, in her third Olympics. “We’ve been so consistent day after day in training and racing this season. We laid it all on the line today and that’s an Olympic silver. We can’t be upset with that.”
Which was both an honest and realistic assessment of their race.
As much as the Canadian crew did everything in their power at Lake Dorney, they ran into a monster boat in the gold-medal crew from the United States. The Americans, who were the defending Olympic champions, were last defeated in international competition in 2005 and returned six of the nine crew members from Beijing.
They also looked every inch the favourite at the Eton College rowing basin.
In a wire-to-wire win, the Americans beat back an early challenge from the Dutch and a late challenge from the Canadians but never seemed particularly concerned about either boat. The Canadians made a bit of a move over the final 500 metres but still finished almost a second and a half behind the Americans.