WINDSOR, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Members of the United States team celebrate winning gold after the Women's Eight final on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Eton Dorney on August 2, 2012 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The United States held off Canada to win a second straight Olympic gold in the women's eight Thursday, maintaining its six-year dominance of the high-profile event.
The U.S. led from start to finish to win in a time of 6 minutes, 10.59 seconds. Canada finished a half-length behind in second and the Netherlands took the bronze to close the second day of finals at Dorney Lake.
The U.S. hasn't lost a competitive race in the eight since winning the world title here in 2006, but Canada had closed the gap in the past 12 months, even qualifying for the final in a faster time in the heats.
The Americans successfully defended the title they won in the Beijing Games in 2008. The country's only previous Olympic gold in the discipline came at Los Angeles in 1984.
The U.S. crew — Mary Whipple (coxswain), Caryn Davies, Caroline Lind, Eleanor Logan, Meghan Musnicki, Taylor Ritzel, Esther Lofgren, Susan Francia and Erin Cafaro — threw their arms up after crossing the line, screaming in delight. Some leaned back into their teammates' lap.
Relief was evident on their faces but, in truth, there was only ever going to be one winner once the U.S. established a lead of 2.3 seconds by the halfway 1,000-meter mark.
They kept that cushion into the final 500 meters and although Canada gradually trimmed the advantage, the Americans stayed smooth and were in full control.
THURSDAY'S FULL ROWING RESULTS:
Men Double Sculls Final A:
1. New Zealand (Nathan Cohen; Joseph Sullivan), 6:31.67.
2. Italy (Alessio Sartori; Romano Battisti), 6:32.80.
3. Slovenia (Luka Spik; Iztok Cop), 6:34.35.
4. Argentina (Ariel Suarez; Cristian Rosso), 6:36.36.
5. Britain (Bill Lucas; Sam Townsend), 6:40.54.
6. Lithuania (Rolandas Mascinskas; Saulius Ritter), 6:42.96.
Lightweight Fours Final A:
1. South Africa (James Thompson; Matthew Brittain; John Smith; Sizwe Ndlovu), 6:02.84.
2. Britain (Peter Chambers; Rob Williams; Richard Chambers; Chris Bartley), 6:03.09.