Men's Eight Advances to Final

It was a bizarre Monday for the Canadian men’s eight rowing crew at the Beijing Olympics — and a largely disappointing one for the majority of their compatriots.

The men’s eight overcame an equipment malfunction and a near-collision with another boat to qualify for Sunday’s final. The Canadians cruised to victory in their heat, crossing the line in five minutes 27.69 seconds — several boat lengths ahead of the runners-up from Poland.

The impressive performance was one of Monday’s lone bright spots for Canada, which is still looking for its first medal of the Games and may have bid farewell to a pair of Olympic veterans.

Susan Nattrass, the six-time Olympian from Edmonton, had a disastrous last round of qualifying and failed to advance to the final in women’s trap shooting. Needing to place in the top six for a shot at a medal, the 57-year-old missed seven of 25 targets in the final round to finish 11th.

She had missed just five of her first 50 targets and was in a five-way tie for fourth heading into the last qualification round.

“I still don’t know what I did wrong before my last round. I did the exact same preparation. I probably started trying too hard,” she said. “It’s hard when it’s probably my last Olympics. I wanted to be Canada’s first medal of the Games because I heard today going out on the bus that we hadn’t won a medal yet.”

Jujie Luan, meanwhile, lost her second-round match in the women’s individual foil and was eliminated. The 50-year-old from Edmonton, ranked 52nd in the world, fell 15-7 to Aide Mohamed of Hungary in the round of 32. Luan won gold for China at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and launched a second comeback to compete in the Beijing Games.

The mother of three first came out of retirement to compete at the 2000 Games in Sydney, but didn’t advance past the first round. She didn’t compete in Athens and had retired as an athlete when in 2006 she decided she’d like to fence in Beijing and made another return to competition.

“This was very special for me,” said Luan. “Everybody asked me, ‘What do you think of this one compared to 1984?’ But 1984 was in L.A., so not many people were there. Today here, I feel like I’m back home, everybody calling me name, they still remember me. I’m so happy to be here in Beijing.”

The men’s eight was just happy to be on the water after Sunday’s scheduled heat was postponed by heavy rain and lightning. When they did finally line up at the start line Monday, their bow ball — a protective rubber piece that covers the sharp stem of the boat — was chopped off by the starting gate.

The strangeness didn’t end there.

About 750 metres into the race, Australia’s rudder jammed and the crew rowed into Canada’s lane. Luckily for the Canadians, they were far enough ahead to avoid the Australian boat.

“We started to pull away, next thing we know, Australia’s in our lane,” said Saskatoon’s Jake Wetzel, a silver medallist in the men’s four in Athens. “In 10 years of rowing, I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s just bizarre. All of sudden we saw them coming over and they just about hit the back of our boat.

“I tell you, this has been a bizarre Olympics.”

The women’s eight had a tougher go of it, finishing third in their heat. The crew must row in the repechage Wednesday to advance to the final.

In the swimming pool, the Canadian 4×100-metre relay crew of Brent Hayden of Mission, B.C., Joel Greenshields of Airdrie, Alta., Colin Russell of Oshawa, Ont., and Rick Say of Victoria were sixth in three minutes 12.26 seconds, a Canadian record.

That was also under the old world record of 3:12.46 that stood coming into the Olympics. The U.S. team, led by superstar Michael Phelps, broke the world mark for the second time in 12 hours en route to gold.

Hayden’s first 100 metres of the race was also a Canadian record in 47.56 seconds.

“Brent’s lead off time really charged us up for swimming fast,” said Say. “This is a huge step for us and being under world record pace has proved that we belong here.”

<b>In other Canadian action:</b>

Julia Wilkinson of Stratford, Ont., swam a Canadian record time of 2:12.56 to finish 13th and move into Tuesday’s semifinals of the 200-metre individual medley. Erica Morningstar of Calgary swam 2:14.11 but failed to finish in the top 16.

Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., swam a Canadian record of 1:58.35 but didn’t advance to the semifinals of the 200 freestyle. Genevieve Saumur was timed in 2:00.19.

Adam Sioui of Trenton, Ont., swam a Canadian record 1:57.45 but didn’t qualify for the 200-metre butterfly semifinals.

Franck Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., lost his first-round tennis match 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland. Toronto’s Daniel Nestor and Frederic Niemayer of Deauville, Que., fell 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to British siblings Jamie and Andy Murray.

The men’s archery team lost its first-round match to Italy 219-217.

The men’s field hockey team dropped a 6-1 decision to world No. 1 Australia.

Anna Rice of North Vancouver, B.C., fell 21-7, 21-12 to third-seeded Lu Lan of China in the round of 16 in women’s badminton.

Nicholas Tritton of Perth, Ont., lost his preliminary 73-kilogram judo match to Joao Pina of Portugal.

David Ford of Edmonton placed 13th in the K-1 canoe and kayak heats to qualify for Tuesday’s semifinal. James Cartwright of Ottawa finished 13th in his C-1 heats, and failed to reach the semis.

The Canadian team eventing crew, featuring Kyle Carter and Sandra Donnelly of Calgary, Selena O’Hanlon of Elgin, Ont., Mike Winter of Toronto and Samantha Taylor of Richmond, B.C., sits ninth. Carter leads the Canadian contingent in the overall standings at 32nd.