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U.S. shows mettle in the double sculls

Lindsay Burns and Teresa Z. Bell came to the Olympics looking for a rowing medal. Their semifinal victory Friday and a loss by the defending world champions have them thinking gold.

Colleen Miller and Wendy Wiebe of Canada were favored to win the gold medal in lightweight women's double sculls, but finished fifth and failed to advance to Sunday's final.

Only the top three in each semifinal moved on to the final.

Bell and Burns rowed down Constanta Burcica and Camelia Macoviciuc of Romania and pulled even with 250 meters left. They sprinted to the line and won by a half-length.

"With the three-time world champions out, it really shows the strength of the field and the level of the competition," Burns said.

Three of four U.S. boats advanced to the medal finals, including the men's coxless four of David Collins, Jeff Pfaendtner, Marcus Schneider and William Carlucci, who won their semifinal by a deck length over Canada. The men's quadruple sculls team of Tim Young, Brian Jamieson, Eric Mueller and Jason Gailes advanced by finishing second behind Germany.

The first rowing medals will be awarded today with Americans Missy Schwen and Karen Kraft favored to win the coxless pair.

Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent of Britain will race for their second straight gold in coxless pairs, and a victory would make Redgrave only the fourth Olympian to win gold at four straight Games.