British rowers enjoyed a day of glory at the Olympic rowing regatta yesterday, with Helen Glover and Heather Stanning successfully defending their crown in the women’s pair and the men’s four winning a fifth consecutive gold.
The two victories came in the space of less than half an hour on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and both crews were pushed hard, with New Zealand claiming silver in the women’s pair and Australia settling for second in the men’s four.
Glover and Stanning’s win extended a five-year unbeaten run over 39 races.
“The pressure was immense. London was a home games but this is defending a title – it means so much,” Glover said.
In the lightweight women’s double sculls, the Netherlands duo of Ilse Paulis and Maaike Head claimed gold in a race that was always set to be highly-competitive.
Head and Paulis had only qualified at the last-chance regatta in May.
Britain’s four of Alex Gregory, Mohamed Sbihi, George Nash and Constantine Louloudis now join a pantheon of British rowing greats.
Britain have had an iron grip on the men’s four in a golden run stretching back to the turn of the century and the era of five-time Olympic champion Steve Redgrave.
Only the United States has a longer gold streak in a specific rowing event, with the men’s eight winning eight times in a row between 1920 and 1956.
Britain battled stroke-for-stroke with Australia for most of the race but edged ahead to claim that fifth consecutive gold medal.
Italy finished a distant third.
It was a day of heartbreak for South Africa, who had crews in all four of day’s finals but failed to win a medal despite some sterling efforts.
Still, with a limited budget, they have won many admirers at the Games.