New Zealand have topped the Olympic rowing medal table for the first time as the United States suffered an historic medal shut out and Britain's dominant run dried up at Tokyo's Sea Forest Waterway.
The competition concluded on Friday with the Kiwis winning the Olympic regatta with three golds and two silvers, seizing the perch that Britain had enjoyed over the previous three Games.
"Words can't really describe the feeling right now," said 27-year-old Sam Bosworth, after he and his teammates picked up New Zealand's first gold in the men's eight since 1972.
"We kind of crossed the line, and I couldn't quite believe it that we'd done it."
Adding to New Zealand's gold medal haul on Friday was Emma Twigg, as the 34-year-old clinched the single sculls after failing to reach the podium in Beijing, London and Rio.
"It has been a long and rocky journey. To cross the line with the gold medal was pretty mind-blowing and special," said Twigg.
The Tokyo regatta was the first Olympic rowing competition in which the United States has come up empty handed, a crushing blow for the Americans.
The US won gold in the women's eight in the three previous Games but finished fourth in the race on Friday behind Canada, New Zealand and China, respectively.
Canada won its first gold medal in women's rowing since 1996.
The Americans also finished fourth in the men's eight on Friday.
The USA slip had been coming.
The Americans had been beaten at the world championships in 2017 and 2019, and a COVID-19 outbreak hit their program in early 2020.
But not medalling in Tokyo at all was a shock.
"The goal has always been the same: Put it all out there and go as fast as you can," said American rower Meghan Musnicki.
The American men head home under a cloud.
US Rowing is awaiting the results of a month-long assessment commissioned by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee of the sport's national rowing programs, including long-time men's coach Mike Teti.
Teti has been criticised by some rowers for what they call his intense and intimidating style.
Some have accused him of making physical threats and verbal attacks.
The Olympic rowing competition was forced to take a two-day hiatus due to adverse weather forecasts but otherwise carried on as planned despite prior concerns over heat and wind.
Australian Associated Press