'An American dynasty, baby'

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Members of the U.S. women's eight rowing team celebrate their gold medal. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

ETON, England – Zsuzsanna Francia stepped off the dock and made a bold and golden declaration.

“That is an American dynasty, baby,” the rower from Penn and Abington High said. “That was a great race. It was a little bit tough conditions, but there was a lot of power in that boat. Just happy to continue the legacy.”

With a stiff crosswind pushing them to the left, Francia and the U.S. women’s 8 crew did everything right to claim their second consecutive Olympic gold medal.

The U.S. got out to a fast start, took an early lead and never let up for a moment. Canada and the Netherlands stayed close, but settled for silver and bronze.

“That was our motto: Be greedy,” Francia said. “If we get an inch, take another inch. Never just settle.” Francia is one of two rowers who were in the 2008 golden boat.

She said there was no dwelling on the Beijing triumph for inspitation.

“It’s great what we’ve done,” Francia said. ” It’s a new boat, it’s a new race, it’s a different course. We were confident. We knew we could do it. We just had to get it done.”

Francia’s spot on this boat was hard-earned. She suffered a herniated disk in her back last year, then a broken rib in November. She was unable to row for months, but trained hard in other ways and won a spot in the 8.

“It definitely was a rough year for me,” Francia said. “I’m just glad I stuck with it and my teammates had confidence in me.”

* In other local developments, Langhorne's Kyle Vashkulat lost his opening judo match on an ippon -- essentially a technical knockout -- by Ramziggin Sayidov of Uzbekistan. More from Francia in tomorrow’s Inquirer.

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