We got a good glimpse of it Thursday in England when one Penn rowing Olympic medal-winner (Anita DeFrantz L’77) put a gold medal around the neck of another Penn rowing Olympic medal-winner (Susan Francia C’04, G’04).
Moments before the emotional ceremony, Francia had captured gold in her second straight Olympics when her women’s eight team outlasted second-place Canada and third-place Netherlands in a dominating wire-to-wire victory in the 2,000-meter finals, repeating their championship performance at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
On the medal stand, the announcer said Francia seemed “happiest of them all,” and he was probably right. It’s been a tough journey for her, after all, as she had to fight back from a severe herniated disk and broken ribs to earn her spot in the women’s eight boat for a second consecutive Olympics.
But there she was in England, smiling ear to ear and collecting a second gold medal from DeFrantz, who captained the women’s eight to bronze at the 1976 Olympics and later became the first female vice president of the International Olympic Committee.
Before Francia, the last Penn alum to win gold was wrestler Brandon Slay in 2000. Slay is back in the 2012 Olympics as a Team USA wrestling coach.