BEIJING, China - Two U.S. crews made history Thursday at the 2008 Paralympic Games, winning two of the first-ever awarded medals in the sport of rowing. The mixed four with coxswain won silver, while the women's single sculls won bronze to highlight the final day of competition at Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing, China.
In the legs, trunk and arms mixed four with coxswain, the crew of Simona Chin (Houston, Texas), Jamie Dean (Pickerington, Ohio), Jesse Karmazin (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), Tracey Tackett (Phoenixville, Pa.) and Emma Preuschl (Indianapolis, Ind.) clocked a 3:37.61 for the silver medal. Italy led from the start, winning gold in a 3:33.13. The U.S. crew was in third place through the 750-meter mark, but powered through Great Britain in the sprint to cross just 0.76 seconds ahead. Great Britain took bronze in a 3:38.37, with Germany fourth in a 3:41.71. China finished in fifth place with a 3:44.15, followed by Canada in a 3:45.66.
"I'm just so proud," said Preuschl. "This was really tough and I feared the other teams around us. I expected to win gold, but it's hard to get there. I will definitely be back at the London 2012 Paralympics."
In the final of the women's arms only single sculls, four-time Paralympian Laura Schwanger (Harrisburg, Pa.) sprinted from fifth to third place in the final 200 meters of the race to take bronze. Defending world champion Helene Raynsford of Great Britain won gold in a 6:12.93, with Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus second in a 6:25.44 for the silver. Schwanger clocked a 6:35.07, followed by Ukraine in a 6:40.04. China and Brazil finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
"The competition was incredibly tough," said Schwanger, a former track and field Paralympic athlete, who won four gold medals in 1988, three silver medals and a bronze medal in 1992 and three silver medals in 1996. "I am just happy to win a medal."
Ron Harvey (Long Beach, Calif.) finished fifth in the final of the men's arms only single sculls. The five-time adaptive national team member clocked a 5:46.32. Great Britain's Tom Aggar won gold in a 5:22.09, with Ukraine's Oleksandr Petrenko finishing in a 5:26 for silver and Israel's Eli Nawi taking bronze in a 5:39.11. China crossed fourth with Australia in sixth.
After missing a qualifying spot in yesterday's repechages by less than a second, Angela Madsen (Long Beach, Calif.) and Scott Brown (Collingdale, Pa.) won the B final of the mixed double sculls for seventh place overall. The duo led from wire-to-wire, defeating Ukraine's Sergii Dereza and Iryna Kyrychenko by 7.45 seconds. Ukraine clocked a 4:37.78, with Germany third in a 4:49.05. Israel finished fourth in a 4:50.43, followed by Canada and Japan in fifth and sixth.
"It's a huge honor to take part in the Paralympic Games," said Brown. "After we failed to get into the A final, we had to make our revenge and get the first place in the B final."
Complete results are available at http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRMP/ENG/Schedule/index.shtml