St Catherines’ Kristen Kit captures Olympic rowing gold

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Published July 30, 2021 at 5:45 pm

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It took 29 years but Canada is back on top as the women’s eight crew won gold by less than a second in the wee hours of the morning today (July 30) at the Tokyo Olympics.

With St Catharines native Kristen Kit at the helm as coxswain, Canada took the lead at the 1,000 metre mark and never relinquished it.

Canada’s winning team was clocked at 5:59.13, followed by silver medalists New Zealand at 6:00.04 and bronze winning China at 6:01.21.

While Kit has lived in BC for the past years now, she was born in St Catharines. In fact, she got into rowing as a Grade 9 student when her grandfather offered to coach the rowing team.

Winning Canada’s first women’s eight gold since 1992 was a sweet victory for Kit, returning Olympians Susanne Grainger, Lisa Roman and Christine Roper, who have now helped lead Canada to Olympic glory along with Sydney Payne, Madison Mailey, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Avalon Wasteneys and Andrea Proske.

A member of that 1992 crew was Canadian rowing legend and much-decorated Kathleen Heddle, who sadly passed away from cancer in January at the age of 55.

So Kit said Heddle and head coach Michelle Darvill, were very much on their minds as they rowed down the Sea Forest Waterway.

“We heard thunder at the start, and right away in my head I was like, ‘Oh, that’s Kathleen. She’s there with us,”‘ Kit told the media after the race.

“And then around 750 (metres) to go I called, ‘What would Kathleen do?’ And then shortly after that, I called, ‘What would Michelle do?'”

She continued, “These girls responded. It was 10 strokes for Kathleen and 10 strokes for Michelle. That’s when I really knew, ‘Oh God, we have this.”‘

Clearly what both Heddle and Darvill would do was win the race.

So they did.

(Photo of Kristen Kit courtesy of Team Canada)

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