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Olympic History

Paris, 1900: Prior to competing in the pair with coxswain event at the 1900 Games, Dutchmen Roelof Klein and Francois Brandt were unhappy with the weight of their coxswain and replaced him with a 73-pound boy they plucked from the streets of Paris. The boat wins the gold medal, but the boy disappeared before any information about him was gathered. Olympic lore put the boy's age between 7 and 10 years; but Dutch historian Tony Bijkerk, who discovered the story and investigated it at length, estimated a range of 12 to 14.

Antwerp, 1920: In a 30-minute span, American Jack Kelly rowed to victories in the single and double sculls. Kelly added a third gold in 1924. Five years later, he had a daughter, Grace, who starred in such Hitchcock classics as "Dial M for Murder," "Rear Window" and "To Catch a Thief" before becoming the Princess of Monaco. Jack's son, John Kelly Jr., also took to the water, rowing at four Olympics.

Paris, 1924: The U.S. men's eight won gold in Paris by nearly 16 seconds ahead of the Canadians. In the American boat was Benjamin Spock, who became a pediatrician and in 1945 authored "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care," which sold more than 45 million copies.

Amsterdam, 1928: American Paul Costello teamed with Charles McIlvaine and won his third consecutive gold medal in double sculls. Costello was one of five rowers in Olympic history to win gold medals at three Games. The others are Jack Beresford, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Siegfried Brietzke and Steve Redgrave.

Berlin, 1936: Jack Beresford, a 37-year-old from Great Britain, teamed with Leslie Southwood to win the double sculls and extend his medal-winning streak to five Olympics. Beresford previously won single sculls medals in 1920 (silver) and 1924 (gold), a silver in the eight in 1928, and a gold in the four in 1932. The only other rowers to win medals at three or more Games are Paul Costello, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Siegfried Brietzke and Steve Redgrave.

London, 1948: Labeled "The Cary Grant of Scullers" by journalists for his good looks, Australian Mervyn Wood took the single sculls title in London. He later added silver in the event in 1952 and a double sculls bronze in 1956. In the late 1970s, while serving as police commissioner in the Australian state of New South Wales, he was charged with perverting the course of justice. Although the charges were dropped, he was denied the opportunity to partake in the torch relay prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Melbourne, 1956: American John Kelly Jr., the brother of Grace Kelly and son of three-time Olympic rowing champion Jack Kelly, won bronze in the Melbourne single sculls event. Although he never matched his father's Olympic success, Junior was an accomplished rower in his own right, twice winning the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta in England.

Rome, 1960: At each Olympics from 1920 to 1956, the U.S. -- represented by crews from various colleges - won the prestigious men's eight event. But that run ended in Rome, where the American boat finished fifth, more than 10 seconds behind victorious Germany.

Munich, 1972: The New Zealand eight in Munich is perhaps the most under-financed gold-medal crew in history, winning with a boat purchased after a series of bingo games and a raffle in which participants paid a dollar for a chance to win a "dream kitchen." Facing crews with bankrolls 10 times as large, the motley group of engineers, carpenters and mechanics was the first crew not from the U.S., Great Britain or Germany to win the event.

Moscow, 1980: Seven of the eight men's rowing events were won by East German boats, including the men's pair, where twin brothers Bernd and Joerg Landvoigt finished ahead of Soviet twins Yuri and Nikolai Pimenov. Disrupting the East German reign was 6-foot-7 Pertti Karppinen of Finland, who used his trademark powerful finish to win the second of his eventual three consecutive gold medals in the single sculls.

Los Angeles, 1984: The Games marked the Olympic debut of Steve Redgrave, who helped Great Britain triumph in the men's four with coxswain, an event later discontinued. Redgrave, turning his talents to other boats, won gold at every ensuing Games through 2000, after which he was bestowed with knighthood.

Los Angeles, 1984: Capitalizing on the absence of most boycotting Eastern Bloc nations, the U.S. men and women rowed to a combined eight medals. Romania claimed five of the six women's gold medals, their only loss coming in the eight, which the Americans won. Bradley Lewis and Paul Enquist turned in the other U.S. victory in L.A. in men's double sculls. Lewis later penned a memoir, "Assault on Lake Casitas," in which he wrote, "Rowing is such a fine sport. Everyone goes backward, and the leader can see his opponents as they struggle in vain."

Los Angeles, 1984: Shortly after the start of the repechage in the men's eight, a French rower lost his oar when an oarlock broke. It is later determined that the equipment was tampered with, so the crew automatically advanced to the final. The Canadians won the race in a shocker, leading the entire way and holding off the favored Americans by .42 of a second.

Seoul 1988: Pertti Karppinen's quest for his fourth consecutive single sculls gold ended in the semifinals, where the 35-year-old Finn placed last. In the final, East German Thomas Lange beat five-time world champion Peter-Michael Kolbe of West Germany. In 1990, Lange's father, a high-ranking member of the Communist Party, committed suicide in the aftermath of communism's collapse in Eastern Europe. Two years later, Lange defended his Olympic title in Barcelona.

Barcelona, 1992: Australia's famed powerhouse in the four made its Olympic debut with a lineup of Andrew Cooper, Michael McKay, Nicholas Green and James Tomkins. The so-called "Oarsome Foursome" followed up its 1990 world title with an Olympic title, finishing comfortably ahead of the runner-up U.S. quad. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, with Cooper replaced by Drew Ginn, the boat was just as awesome, winning a second straight gold.

Barcelona, 1992: Two months before the Games, Canada's Silken Laumann was the favorite to win the women's single sculls. But at a pre-Olympic race, a German boat crashed into her right leg, severing muscles, tendons and ligaments. She was told she would need at least six months to recover, but five weeks later, she announced that not only would she recover, but she also would compete in Barcelona. She did and took bronze, one of five Canadian rowing medals at the Games.

Barcelona, 1992: Norway placed second in the men's quadruple sculls and earned the Barcelona crowd's approval by using a wooden boat and wooden oars. Other crews' equipment was made of lightweight carbon fiber, including that of the victorious Germans, who won the race by nearly two seconds.

Atlanta, 1996: Though his partners changed, Steve Redgrave's results in the pair remained the same from 1988 through 1996. He won with Andrew Holmes in 1988, then with Oxford graduate Matthew Pinsent in 1992 and 1996. With his victory in the four with coxswain in 1984, Redgrave increased his gold-medal tally to four, the most in rowing history.

Atlanta, 1996: In the men's single sculls event, Switzerland's Xeno Mueller rowed the last 500 meters in an impressive 1 minute, 36.56 seconds to pass Canadian Derek Porter and German Thomas Lange, the two-time defending champion. Mueller grew up in Switzerland, Germany, Spain and France before attending Brown University and moving to the United States in 1992. He became a U.S. citizen in 2004.

Sydney, 2000: Seconds after winning his fourth gold in 1996, Great Britain's Steve Redgrave said, "If anyone sees me in a boat again, you have my permission to shoot me. I've had enough." A few months later, he announced that he would, in fact, pursue a fifth gold in Sydney. There, as a member of Britain's four, Redgrave capped one of the most remarkable careers in Olympic history with a fifth -- and final -- triumph.

Sydney, 2000: The men's single sculls final in Sydney was essentially a two-man race, with New Zealand's Rob Waddell defeating the reigning champion, Xeno Mueller of Switzerland. Mueller tried to surge in the third quarter of the race, but Waddell responded. Fifteen strokes later, Waddell found open water and the double world champion sealed the Olympic title in 6 minutes, 48.90 seconds.

Sydney, 2000: Riding a 36-year gold-medal drought in the prestigious men's eight, the United States seemed poised for a return to prominence in the event it once dominated. But in Sydney, the three-time reigning world champions finished a distant fifth, while Great Britain won the event for the first time since 1912.

Sydney, 2000: Twenty-four years after women's rowing was added to the Olympic program, the single sculls title was successfully defended when Yekaterina Karsten of Belarus achieved the feat in a photo finish. At the 600-meter mark of the final, she trailed Bulgaria's Rumyana Neykova. In the third quarter, Germany's Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski joined the hunt. Karsten mounted a sprint in the final 150 meters and crossed the line with Neykova. A photo finish determined that Karsten won by .01 of a second.

Athens, 2004: The United States' 40-year gold-medal drought in men's eight came to a halt when the crew rowed to over a boat-length lead en route to one-second victory over the Netherlands in 5:42.48. Major changes to the crew propelled the Americans to gold. Prior to the Games, Jason read, Wyatt Allen, Chris Ahrens, Joey Hansen, Matt Deakin, Dan Beery, Beau Hoopman, Bryan Volpenhein and coxswain Peter Cipollone never raced together at a major international regatta.

Athens, 2004: Although he finished far behind the medal contenders in single sculls, one of the biggest stories of the Games was Kenyan Ibrahim Githaiga, who became the first black African ever to row at the Olympics. Githaiga began rowing in 1997, at the suggestion of a friend. In 2002 he and coach Juvenalis Gitau earned an Olympic Solidarity scholarship and went to Australia to train at the Australian Institute of Sport. Githaiga continued his rowing education with the South African team in Cape Town. Eventually he found himself training with the Dutch national team in Germany and Holland. It all paid off with a fourth-place finish at the 2004 African Olympic Qualifying Regatta, good enough to get him to Athens.


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