Gold for men's four and women's lightweight doubles

Gold for men's four and women's lightweight doubles
By Eurosport

04/08/2012 at 20:45Updated 05/08/2012 at 17:44

Britain won two Olympic golds in 20 minutes on Dorney Lake as the men's four beat their fierce rivals Australia in the race of the regatta and the women's lightweight double sculls took the medal in front of 30,000 screaming fans.

Confirming their position as the strongest rowing nation in the world, Pete Reed, Andrew Triggs Hodge, Alex Gregory and Tom James powered off the start in their men's four final which had been dubbed an "Ashes" clash on a par with the cricketing rivalry between the two countries.

The commanding performance followed days of tough talking from the Australian boat and gave Britain a fourth consecutive win in the men's four and took the host nation's medal tally on the course to seven, making it the most successful Olympic regatta for the country in modern rowing.

The win by just over a second also denied Drew Ginn the chance to become the first Australian to win gold in four Olympic Games.

Ginn had used the build up to the Games to try to heap the pressure on the British men's boat, saying they would be scared of racing against the Australians.

Instead, the British boat surprised the fast-starting Australians by matching them from the off and then pulling out a slight lead by the 250 metre mark.

They then held on to that lead with a display of powerful rowing which allowed them to respond to anything the Australians could throw at them.

As the two crews went over the line the British threw their arms in the air before collapsing in to their boat and blowing kisses to the crowds and pumping their fists.

The Australians in contrast fell back into their boat and held their heads in their hands. The two crews then congratulated each other on the side of the lake minutes after the race.

"We'd been under a lot of pressure to carry on the coxless four tradition and we've done it, this is wonderful," Britain's Alex Gregory told the BBC.

"My son will be able to take the medal into school and say my dad's an Olympic champion."

For the third day out of four the sound of the British national anthem then echoed across the lake as British rowing fans belted out the anthem in support of their rowers.

Twenty minutes later the tally went to eight medals with four golds, one silver and three bronzes as Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking rowed through the favourites to win the women's lightweight double sculls by a length.

The duo were in utter disbelief and looked up at the big screen to confirm their win after they crossed the line before hugging each other and standing up in the boat to accept the applause.

The British crew slowly pulled away from the field with a commanding performance to edge China and world champions Greece. They hugged each other in the boat and looked stunned with their win.

But there was disappointment for Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase in the men’s lightweight double sculls as Denmark came through the British defending champions in the final 100 metres of the race to win gold in the tightest clash of the Olympic regatta.

Britain had powered off the start and led for 1,900 metres by half a length but they could not hold off the Danish boat of Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist who sprinted for the line.

The race had to be restarted after the British boat broke their equipment in the first 100 metres, prompting the officials to restart it 10 minutes later.

New Zealand took the bronze.

The Czech Republic's Miroslava Knapkova powered to victory in the women's single scull to add to her 2011 world championship title and finally confirm her position at the top of the sport.

The 31-year-old, who had previously won a string of silver and bronze medals at international regattas, had a strong start and led by over a length by 500 metres and established more than a boat's length of clear water before 1,000 metres in one of the most dominant finals of the regatta.

Denmark's unheralded Fie Udby Erichsen took silver and Australia's Kim Crow the bronze.