BY MARK MALONEY

Special to the Portland Press Herald

ETON DORNEY, England — The U.S. women’s eight rowing is hoping silence is golden.

That’s the plan for Eleanor Logan and her teammates today in the medal race of the Summer Olympic Games. Logan, of Boothbay Harbor, was on the team that won a gold medal in 2008.

This time around, it’s a bit different. Coach Tom Terhaar has kept team members from direct contact with the media since before Sunday’s heat victory at Dorsey Lake, with the exception of a brief post-race interview with coxswain Mary Whipple.

No distractions allowed at the London Games. Not even from family.

Logan’s mother, Jennifer Kierstead, noted in her blog that Sunday’s race was her “first glimpse of Ellie, who is kept apart from family, friends and media prior to their final. In Beijing, we were able to see her after her heat — not this time.”

Now is the time to see if the strategy works. Team USA is the defending gold-medal winner and has won three World Championships since the Beijing Olympics. The Americans also won the two World titles before the 2008 Games.

This time, though, could be a tougher test.

Team USA (6:14.68) won the first of Sunday’s two 2,000-meter heats, Canada crossed the line in 6:13.91 in its heat. The Canadians return seven individuals from last year’s World Championships runner-up crew. Earlier this year, Canada nearly handed Team USA its first loss in six years, losing by three-hundredths of a second at a World Cup race in Lucerne.

“I respect … them. I like the coach; I like the athletes. They’re just good people,” Terhaar said Sunday when asked about Canada as a rival. “We want to win, of course, but rivalry, no. Romania is the one I’m always watching out for. They’ve medaled pretty much every Olympics since it was created. They’re the ones I keep an eye out for.”

The Netherlands, which won silver in 2008, led Tuesday’s repechage in 6:15.36. Also advancing to the medal race were 2008 bronze-medalist Romania, Australia and Great Britain.

Via email, Logan said after Sunday’s race “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. 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 our race, and that’s very exciting.”

She also tweeted “Step One completed, we earned the opportunity to race in the finals. Now THAT is exciting!”

A graduate of Brooks School (2006) and Stanford University (2011), Logan is among five in the Team USA boat who return from the Beijing gold-medal team. Every woman on the U.S. roster has been either a world champion, Olympic gold-medalist or both.

Logan, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder in the No. 6 seat, is among the latter group. Now she and her teammates again go for gold, and her mother sees the strength not only in her daughter but the entire team

“They are rowing smoothly and powerfully. The British commentator refers to them as ‘the American machine,'” Kierstead wrote in her blog. “Several gold medalists are on this boat, and I know one of them is my daughter. It’s an astounding feeling. I’m her mother, yes, but Ellie’s phenomenal athletic ability, discipline, and drive is all coming from her. She inherited my long arms and her father’s height, but that doesn’t explain what really propels her.

“Ellie was looking for a sport in which to excel from a very young age. She tried and excelled in swimming and basketball, from age 8 on, before being introduced to rowing in high school. Rowing is where it all came together for her, in an extraordinary way.”

Today could be yet another extraordinary day in Logan’s life.

Mother’s blog: http://www.parents.com/blogs/goodyblog/tag/jennifer-kiersted/

 

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