There’s a party going on in little Lions Bay, B.C. tonight to celebrate an Olympic gold medal win for hometown athlete Madison Mailey with the Canadian women’s eights rowing team.
The Canadians burst out to an early lead and kept it all the way through the gruelling 2,000-m race Friday morning in Tokyo (Thursday evening Vancouver time), holding off a late charge from the New Zealand women who finished second, 0.91 seconds behind Canada. China finished third, 2.08 behind the Canadians, who clocked a winning time of 5:59.13.
This was the second ever Olympic gold for the Canadian women in the eights, the first coming 29 years ago in Barcelona.
The 24-year-old Mailey, a graduate of West Vancouver's Collingwood School, joined the national program in 2017, helping the team win back-to-back gold medals in women’s eight at the 2017 and 2018 World Rowing U23 championships. She bumped up to the senior team for the 2018 worlds, helping the eights claim silver. This was her first appearance at the Olympic Games.
Madison’s father Kim, mother Victoria and brother Brook were so nervous that they asked other residents of the Village of Lions Bay to stay away from their house during the final Thursday evening, but within minutes of the gold-medal win the mayor was knocking on the door and the community celebration was on. The family members wiped away tears as they described watching Madison and her Canadian teammates put together the race of their lives.
“We thought we had the volume turned up quite loud, but we couldn't hear any of the commentators because my son and Victoria and I were cheering so loudly and yelling,” Kim told the North Shore News. “It was extremely exciting. We gathered at the end of the race and there was tears streaming down all of our cheeks. You couldn't have a better ending. We’re just so thrilled for all of the crew of the eight.”
Victoria said that her daughter will take the gold medal win with the humility and selflessness that it takes to succeed as a team member in a sport like rowing.
“About 24 hours ago we exchanged our final messages to each other, and I said ‘Madison, you know, you don't need to bring home a gold medal, because you've got a golden heart,’” said Victoria. “After this great global Olympic accomplishment, she will be the same person who’s always been there to support other people and support youth, put other people first. … She’s always been that way since she was a Collingwood student, since she was a little girl. We’re just very proud of her and the person that she is.”