Susan Francia, C'04 Wins Gold in Beijing

Philadelphia Inquirer article on Francia (8/18/08)

Philadelphia Daily News article on Francia (8/18/08)

PHILADELPHIA - For the first time since 1984, the United States rowing team won a gold medal in the women’s eight at the Olympic Games -- in no small part thanks to Susan Francia, C’04.

The final took place Sunday at the Shunyi race course in Beijing, and the U.S. led wire-to-wire in earning the gold medal. The U.S. got out fast, with the top time in both the first and second 500-meter splits, and then had the second-fastest split in the third 500-meter stage. With more than a two-second lead at that point, the U.S. put it into cruise control over the final 500 meters and still won handily with a time of 6:05.34.

The Netherlands was second, nearly two full seconds behind the U.S. (6:07.22), while Romania -- gold medalists in 1996, 2000 and 2004 -- finished third in 6:07.25. Canada (6:08.05), Great Britain (6:13.74) and Australia (6:14.22) rounded out the final field.

“Our start was flawless -- exactly like we wanted,” Francia, who rowed in the six seat, told row2k.com. “We have been so inspired by the record the USA has in this event. After Japan 2005, where we finished outside of the medals by an inch, we knew we could achieve great things. I looked over and saw we had crossed the finish line, and I was done. I just put my blade on the water and my hands in the air.”

Francia, from Abington, Pa., originally joined the Penn rowing program as a walk-on, and lettered for the Quakers in 2003 and 2004.