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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 17, 2008 9:06 AM

Gold for U-Dub's Whipple, Cummins in U.S. women's eight

Posted by Ron Judd

crew.JPGFrom left, USA's Erin Cafaro, Lindsay Shoop, Anna Goodale, Elle Logan, Anna Cummins, Susan Francia, Caroline Lind, Caryn Davies and coxswain Mary Whipple react after capturing the gold in the Women's eight final the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Mary Whipple can take that silver medal off her bed post. The former UW coxswain kept it there for four years, still ticked that the favored U.S. women's eights lost to Romania at the Athens Games. Monday in Beijing, her boat, powered by fellow Husky alum Anna Mickelson Cummins of Bellevue, led start to finish in Beijing to win the gold over the Netherlands by 1.88 seconds.

It was the first gold for the U.S. in the event since 1984.

"Before we left Princeton, we gathered and watched that 1984 race," Whipple said. "I made the call halfway through the race saying that it was just like 1984 and that we couldn't let them down. Then we just motored ahead."

Whipple2.JPG

"We learned a lot from Athens," said Whipple about winning the silver medal in 2004. "I think the group from '04 built a foundation for this team, and these girls have stepped it up. It's taken about 13 or 14 girls to build this eight."

The men's eight, meanwhile, trailed badly at the start, but poured it on to claim bronze in the race, won by Canada. In the boat: Former UW coach Bryan Volpenheim, 31, the stroke, who also powered the gold-medal U.S. men's eights in Athens.

"I'm really happy," Volpenhein said. "I was really excited to get out there today. I'm not disappointed with bronze. It's always good to come away with a medal."

The men's crew got off the line in sixth place, but pushed to fourth at the 1,000 meter mark and took third from The Netherlands in the final third. The U.S. crew pushed the silver-medal British boat, but fell short by .23 seconds at the finish. Canada lead wire to wire to win with a time of 5:23.89. Britain clocked in at 5:25.11, followed by the U.S. at 5:25.34.

Two other Seattle rowers, Lindsay Meyer and Lia Pernell, finished fifth in women's quadruple sculls.

TV note: NBC broadcast the men's eight final on its East Coast feed at 11:10 a.m. today; it should be broadcast at 2:10 p.m. today, Seattle Time. The women's eight's race was promised by Jim Lampley, "later on, in prime time" -- whatever that means.

Whipple1.JPGFormer Husky coxswain Mary Whipple, center, gets a hug from unidentified teammates after they won the gold medal in the women's eight final at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)


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