U.S. women’s eight, once unbeatable, goes into Olympics as world bronze medalist

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The U.S. women’s eight goes into the 2020 Olympics as the three-time defending gold medalist. The boat also goes to the Tokyo Games as the world bronze medalist, looking its most vulnerable in a decade.

New Zealand, which has never earned an Olympic women’s eight medal, won the world title by 2.72 seconds in Austria on Sunday. The U.S. was 5.02 seconds behind in third after six minutes of racing over 2,000 meters.

The Americans won all 11 Olympic and world titles between 2006 and 2016. That streak was snapped in 2017, when the U.S. took fourth in a reset year with three members of the Rio Olympic eight team returning. That year, the Americans were 2.85 seconds behind world champion Romania.

This year’s crew also included three Rio champions — coxswain Katelin Guregian, two-time Olympic champ Meghan Musnicki (out of retirement) and Emily Regan. It replaced two rowers from the 2018 boat that rebounded for a world title.

Also Sunday, Kara Kohler took bronze in the single sculls. Kohler, 28, also earned bronze at the 2012 Olympics in quadruple sculls.

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