Former Bears Allen, Cafaro Help U.S. to Gold at World Championships

Aug. 31, 2009

BERKELEY - A pair of former California rowers - Mara Allen and Erin Cafaro - captured gold medals for the United States at the World Championships that were contested in Poznan, Poland, Aug. 23-30.

Cafaro, who graduated in 2006, won two gold medals while competing in both the eight and the pair, while Allen was a member of the eight boat.

The U.S. eight won its fourth consecutive world championship Aug. 30, dominating the final from the start and covering the 2000-meter distance in 6:05:34 to hold off Romania.

After clocking the fastest time of the heats, the U.S. set the pace early in the final. First off the line, the U.S. crossed the halfway mark with a 1.82-second lead over Great Britain and continued to walk away from the field in the third 500 meters. The crew from Romania was in fifth place for the first half of the race but moved into second position by the 1,500-meter mark. Romania continued to push in the sprint, but the U.S. held its ground, crossing 1.6 seconds ahead for gold. Romania clocked a 6:06.94 for the silver medal, with the Netherlands taking bronze in a 6:07.43.

'They raced how I always hope to see American boats race,' said women's coach Tom Terhaar. 'This was a really tough field. They were aggressive and pushed back. That's the fastest they've raced this year. Having several Olympians back this year was key for the younger guys; they are positive people and set good examples. It was a team effort.'

Cafaro and Susan Francia - both members of the U.S. eight, made history in the women's pair Aug. 29, winning the first-ever gold medal in the event for the United States at the World Championships.

The pair won each of its preliminary races en route to a 0.35-second victory over Romania. In the final, the U.S. duo was in fourth place at the 500-meter mark, but moved up into second by the halfway point. Cafaro and Francia, both members of the eight that won gold in Beijing, edged out Romania's Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu to win in a 7:06.28.

Cafaro has been a member of the U.S. senior team for the past four year, while Allen, who graduated in 2008, was making her first appearance at the World Championships. Both had previously represented the U.S. at the Under-23 World Championships and were key members of Cal's 2005 and 2006 NCAA championship teams.

Allen and Cafaro are competing in the women's eight. Cafaro rowed with the women's eight that won gold at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Cafaro, who graduated in 2006, is one of five returning rowers from that gold-medal boat. This is the fourth year that Cafaro has been selected to the U.S. senior team, while this will be the first appearance in the world championships by Allen, who graduated in 2008.

Former Cal assistant coach Kate Bertko, a member of the staff for the 2006-07 season, won a silver medal as part of the U.S. quadruple sculls. Ukraine seized the gold, with Germany taking the bronze.

Former Golden Bear Iva Obradovic, who completed her Cal career this past spring, won the B final in the women's single scull for her native Serbia.

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