DORNEY, England – Eleanor Logan and her women’s eight rowing teammates are once again on a path to gold.

Logan, from Boothbay Harbor, and her teammates advanced to Thursday’s final at the London Olympics. The defending gold medalists dominated their 2,000-meter heat Sunday at Dorney Lake, winning by more than six seconds in 6 minutes, 14.68 seconds.

“We took a great first step today in terms of advancing into the final on Thursday. Now all our focus is on the final and I’m really excited to race again,” said Logan. “No matter what any other crew brings at us on Thursday, it’s about the nine of us in our boat rowing to our potential … and that’s very exciting.”

Australia finished second in the heat in 6:20.89, followed by 2011 world championships bronze medalist Great Britain (6:23.51) and Germany (6:34.32).

Canada, the 2010 and 2011 runner-up at worlds, also advanced to the final by winning the second heat in 6:13.91.

The five other teams from the two heats will race in Tuesday’s repechage for one last opportunity to reach the final.

Although the Canadians’ time was the fastest of the day, they were pushed by Beijing bronze medalist Romania, which finished 2.70 seconds behind. The Netherlands, 2008 silver medalists, finished third in 6:18.98.

Mary Whipple, Team USA’s coxswain, was not concerned by Canada’s time.

“Well, we’re going to get a little faster each day and we’re excited to race on Thursday,” Whipple said.

“The race in the women’s eight is going to come down to the last stroke, and that’s what we’re prepping for.”

A three-time Olympian, Whipple spoke on behalf of the team Sunday after Coach Tom Terhaar limited media access to the rest of the squad.

“Eleanor Logan, she’s amazing,” said Whipple. “She sits six seat and she backs up Caryn (Davies) very, very nicely. She’s the voice of reason. She doesn’t say much, but then when she does say something to the boat, everyone listens. And everyone loves Elle.”

The team is looking ahead to Thursday and the chance to defend its gold medal.

“My teammates right now are doing what they need to do to get their bodies ready,” Whipple said. “This is a brutal sport. They’re cooling down. They’re taking care of their bodies … because it is a heat and we just need to stay ready for the final on Thursday.”

Logan, 24, is a 2011 graduate of Stanford.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder is rowing for a second consecutive Olympic gold medal, as are five others in the boat.

Whipple’s role is to give the race plan, and shout cues on when to go hard and when to go harder — one never goes “easy” in the Olympics, she said.

“We keep it simple, especially when it gets really loud,” Whipple said. “But I’m basically the little voice inside their heads (saying) ‘we want more, go more, go now.”‘

Thursday, it will be full speed ahead.

 

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