The U.S. women's eight trained for nearly four years to build the strength needed to win Olympic gold. When the crew looked for that extra gear Sunday, it couldn't find it.
Romania, which finished behind the United States at last year's world championships, stroked hard for an early lead and never trailed in winning the gold medal on the final day of rowing competition. The U.S. crew finished fourth.
The crew was heavily favored to win the first U.S. women's gold in rowing in a boycott-free games but tried to sprint too early.
Crew members were silent as they headed back to the dock. Catriona Fallon of Burlingame, Calif., said they didn't know what to say. "I was just surprised we weren't faster," she said.
The Netherlands won the men's eight gold medal by half a boat length, and team members celebrated their only gold by jumping from the stands into Lake Lanier and swimming to the boat.
Australia ended the eight-day regatta with six medals, including two gold, after landing 10 boats in the finals. Canada finished with six medals, and the United States won three silver and a bronze.
Teresa Z. Bell, of Washington Crossing, N.J., and Lindsay Burns, of Big Timber, Mont., and the American men's quadruple sculls provided two of the U.S. team's silver medals. The U.S. men's lightweight coxless four picked up a bronze. Bell and Burns took the silver medal in the first women's lightweight event in the Olympics behind Romania.
Germany picked up two golds with its men's and women's quadruple sculls crews. Switzerland finished with two gold medals as brothers Michael and Markus Gier easily won the first gold in a lightweight event in the double sculls.