Penn's Olympic history (upenn.edu)
Dave Zeitlin's sports blog entry (PennGazette)
LONDON- For the second time in her career, Susan Francia C'04 G'04 is an Olympic gold medalist.
The United State Women's 8 won the gold medal Thursday afternoon at the Eton Dorney race course, successfully defending its Beijing 2008 gold in the process. The Americans were ahead almost the entirety of Thursday's 2,000-meter final, holding a three-seat lead after 500 meters, a seven-seat lead at the midway point, and nearly a full boat lead at the 1,500-meter mark.
The American boat crossed the finish line in 6:10.59, nearly a second and a half ahead of the 6:12.06 by the silver medal boat from Canada. The Netherlands won the bronze medal in 6:13.12. The United States is unbeaten in the women's eight since 2006.
"That is an American dynasty, baby," Francia told london2012.com just before collecting her medal. "It was a great race, a little tough conditions, but it was awesome -- a lot of power in that boat."
In addition to Francia, who rowed in the seven seat and hails from Abington, Pa., the U.S. women's eight consisted of coxswain Mary Whipple (Orangevale, Calif.), Caryn Davies (Ithaca, N.Y.), Caroline Lind (Greensboro, N.C.), Eleanor Logan (Boothbay Harbor, Maine), Meghan Musnicki (Naples, N.Y.), Taylor Ritzel (Larkspur, Colo.), Esther Lofgren (Newport Beach, Calif.), and Erin Cafaro (Modesto, Calif.).
(As an added bonus for Penn fans, Francia and her teammates were awarded their gold medals by another Penn person -- Anita DeFrantz L'77, who won a medal as a rower in 1976.)
It marked the third time the United States has won gold in the event, along with the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Only two other countries have won the women's eights gold three times: East Germany and Romania.
The last Penn athlete to collect a gold medal before Francia in 2008 was Brandon Slay (wrestling) in 2000. With this second gold, Francia becomes the first Penn person to win two gold medals as an athlete since William Arthur Carr C'33 (track & field) doubled up in 1932.
Click here to read more about Francia's decorated international rowing career!