The Canadian women’s eights rowing crew, which does much of its training on Quamichan Lake in North Cowichan, won Olympic gold on Thursday evening — Friday morning in Japan.
The Canadian women held off New Zealand at the finish line, taking gold with a time of 5:59.13 to the Kiwis’ 6:00.04. China was third with a time of 6:01.21.
It was Canada’s third gold medal of the 2020 Summer Olympics, and second medal in the sport of rowing. Canada’s last gold in the women’s eight came in Barcelona in 1992.
Rowing Canada CEO Terry Dillon told North Cowichan council earlier this month that every major decision about who to send to Tokyo was made on Quamichan Lake. Rowing Canada is in the process of moving all of its training from Victoria to North Cowichan, including the building of a national training centre on Quamichan Lake.
Occupying the seven seat in the Canadian boat was Sydney Payne, a 2015 graduate of Brentwood College School in Mill Bay. Although Payne calls Toronto home, she has deep ties to the Cowichan Valley, as her great-grandparents Kate and Ambrose Payne lived in Honeymoon Bay, where Ambrose worked in the sawmill, and her grandfather Bill Payne grew up in Honeymoon Bay and went to high school in Duncan. Another great-grandfather, David Duekers, was instrumental in the beginnings of lawn bowling in Duncan.
In addition to Payne, the Canadian team includes Susanne Grainger (London, Ont.), Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski (Montreal), Madison Mailey (Vancouver), Andrea Proske (Vancouver), Lisa Roman (Surrey), Christine Roper (Victoria), Avalon Wasteneys (Campbell River), and cox Kristen Kit (St. Catherines, Ont.).