Kristine O’Brien left for the Tokyo Olympics with no doubt about what she wanted her women’s eight boat to claim on the Sea Forest Waterway — gold-colored prizes.
"I don’t train for second or third or fourth or whatever," the 29-year-old rower from Massapequa Park said over the phone last month in anticipation of her first Summer Games. "I train to win. My teammates also train to win."
Team USA’s women’s eight boat is a dynasty boat, winning three straight golds, tied with Romania for the record in the event. O’Brien’s boat got off to a strong start Saturday in its bid for sole possession of the record, edging Romania to win the heat and advance directly to Friday morning’s 10:05 final, which will be 9:05 Thursday night back on Long Island.
Romania actually led early and came on again late, but the U.S. crossed 1.26 seconds ahead in the 2,000-meter competition, 6:08.69.-6:09.95.
New Zealand took the other heat in a faster time, 6:07.65. Romania will try to qualify for the final by finishing among the top four in Wednesday’s repechage race.
"It was a good first step for us as a crew," O’Brien wrote in an email from Japan, "ready to get back to work for the final."