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Rowing drought: US chases 1st medals in final day of regatta

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) " The U.S. rowing team enters the last races of the Olympic regatta Saturday without a single medal but with big hopes of extending its winning streak in the women's eight.

The Americans have won every major title in the event since 2006 and the eight racing in Rio looks as strong as ever. The team dominated its qualifying heat this week with lots of open water between the U.S. and second-placed Netherlands.

Britain is intent on ending the U.S. dynasty and has come to Rio with a powerful crew. Still, the British eight was three seconds slower than the U.S. crew in the qualifiers.

So far the rowing competition has not offered much delight for American fans at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. Felice Mueller and Grace Luczak just missed the podium Friday in the women's pair after dropping from second to fourth place during the 2-kilometer race.

"I'm extremely disappointed," Mueller said. "I commend our competitors. They're incredible athletes, but this isn't the race, this isn't the day that Grace and I were setting out to have."

Britain's Helen Glover and Heather Stanning retained their gold in the event, ahead of crews from New Zealand and Denmark.

Historically a powerhouse in the sport, the U.S. has won at least two rowing medals in each Olympics since the 1980 Moscow Games, which the U.S. boycotted.

The U.S. also is represented in two other medal races Saturday: men's eight, women's single sculls.

Genevra Stone of Massachusetts was the second-fastest sculler in the semifinals. She'll face a tough lineup in the final, including New Zealand's Emma Twigg, world champion Kimberley Brennan of Australia and China's Duan Jingli, who was the quickest in the semis.

"It will be a ripper of a final," Brennan said.

Britain and Germany are the favorites in the men's eight but could be challenged by the U.S. crew, which had the fastest time in the repechage.

In the men's single sculls, the epic rivalry between Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand and world champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic continues. Either Drysdale or Synek has won gold at every world championship or Olympics since 2009.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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