Britain’s Katherine Grainger finally became an Olympic champion, while New Zealand took two titles at the London Olympics rowing regatta yesterday.
Grainger, with Anna Watkins, sent the capacity partisan crowd wild when claiming gold in the women’s double sculls.
The 36-year-old Glaswegian was climbing to the top of the podium for the first time after three Olympic silver medals in her long and distinguished career.
The British duo, the reigning world champions, were the crew to beat after setting a new Olympic record in the semi-finals earlier in the week and so it proved as they held off Australia to extend their unbeaten run to 23 races.
Poland finished well off the pace to take bronze.
Grainger, who has taken a sabbatical from studying for a doctorate in homicide to achieve her sporting dream, was immediately enveloped in a bearhug by Steve Redgrave, Britain’s five-time Olympic rowing gold medalist, after stepping out of the boat.
“We knew we had all the goods to perform, so it’s job well done,” Grainger said after regaining her breath.
“Of all my medals, this is really one for the people,” she added. “This is for everyone who has helped me and supported me along the way, from my family, through school, and so on.”
Watkins added: “I had to ask Katherine if it was all a dream, I can’t believe it.”
British women were experiencing a case of the proverbial London bus syndrome — you wait an age for one to come along and them two turn up at once — as the win came just 48 hours after Heather Stanning and Helen Glover had supplied the host nation with their first ever women’s Olympic rowing gold.
It was also a memorable day on the water at Eton Dorney for New Zealand.
Kiwis Eric Murray and Hamish Bond lived up to their status as hot favorites to claim gold in the men’s pair, with France narrowly prevailing over Britain in a scramble for silver.
That was followed up by New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale winning gold in the men’s single sculls.
Drysdale, ill when taking bronze at the Beijing Games four years ago, was followed across the line by Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic, with Britain’s Alan Campbell in third.
Taiwan’s Wang Ming-hui was second in final E to finish 26th out of 33 participants.
In the day’s other final, Germany led from start to finish in the men’s quadruple sculls.
Croatia, champions in Beijing in 2008, took silver, a boat length adrift, with Australia filling the bronze medal position.
The German crew comprised Karl Schulze, Philipp Wende, Lauritz Schoof and Tim Grohmann.
The runners-up at last year’s world championships claimed Germany’s second rowing title at the Games after their men’s eights struck gold on Wednesday.
Schulze and his teammates powered clear from the first stroke, with Croatia, favorites after posting the fastest time in the semi-finals, never mounting a serious threat.
Additional reporting by Staff writer