Women’s eight wins rowing Gold in Rio Olympics
On Saturday, Aug. 13, if you heard loud screams and cheers coming from Mike and Tracey Sobolewski’s house around 10:15 a.m., you would have to forgive them. That was about the time when the United States’ women’s eight rowing team scored a dominating victory to win an Olympic Gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. So what does that have to do with the Sobolewskis? One of the members of that rowing team is Amanda Polk, who is their future daughter-in-law, as she will be marrying their son, Eric Soblowski, soon. Eric, by the way, is a former WCHS quarterback. (See that story by John McGary in the Aug. 11, 2016, issue of The Sun.) Polk began her rowing career in 2002 at Oakland Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. The 5’11” athlete has been a member of U.S. Rowing since 2004; first as a junior team member, then on the Under 23 squad (2008), and then on the Senior U.S. Team (2009-2011, 2013-2016). USA women’s eight rowing has dominated the sport for awhile now. They’ve been on a 10-year winning streak, which now includes three Olympic Gold medals. According to usrowing.com, “The buildup to this race (the Olympic final) began last summer when the team won its 10th consecutive title.” In the Olympic final, the USA team opened the 2,000-meter race sitting in third place halfway through the event. Sitting in first was the team from Canada, who were paddling as hard as they could as they knew what was coming. What was coming is what has made the USA team so great for so long, as all of the Americans were in top physical condition and coming from behind has been their strong suit. Sure enough, at the half-way point, the USA team upped its rate of paddling, as well as its intensity, and the team began to close on the leaders. By the end of the third 500 meters of the race, the USA team had the lead – and it was over. Five-hundred meters later, the USA team crossed the finish line as the Gold medal winners with a time of 6:01.49. Finishing second was Great Britain in 6:03.98, while Romania was third in 6:04.10. Canada, which held the early lead, finished fifth.