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By Charles Walmsley
The British men’s coxless fours successfully defended their Olympic title at Eton Dorney on Saturday morning. A GB boat has now won the title at the last four Olympics, whilst a gold medal in the women’s lightweight double sculls ensured Britain set a new medal record for an Olympic regatta.
Oxford graduates Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge helped the men’s four secure victory, driving hard from the off to put distance between them and the chasing pack. Closest rivals Australia were careful not to make the same mistake as the semi-final, where they went off quickly only to be caught by GB with 500m left. This time they waited to charge but could do nothing to stop Reed, Triggs-Hodge, Tom James and Alex Gregory crossing the line first.
Afterwards Triggs-Hodge described the victory as their “masterpiece” adding: “it took four years to make that, four years of training every day. It took everything to make that.”
He went on to praise the support that rowing has received, saying: “we owe a debt of thanks to everyone that has helped us on our way…this team needs that support to keep on going.” A sell-out crowd once again cheered the British boat over the line, and millions more watched at home.
The Oxonian pair both competed in the 2005 Boat Race alongside crewmate and Cambridge graduate Tom James, when the Dark Blues triumphed over Cambridge by two lengths. This time the margin of victory was tighter as a late Australian push saw them come within a third of a length before Triggs-Hodge rallied the crew one last time to power over the line and take the gold by one length.
Reed was speechless after the event, echoing Triggs-Hodge by talking of the “the hours we do, the hours, the pain” before stating his amazement at being a double Olympic champion. Reed, Triggs-Hodge and James all won gold in Beijing but it was Gregory’s first medal in an Olympics.
Elsewhere Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland rowed impressively to secure gold for Great Britain women’s lightweight double sculls and earn Britain’s third ever female rowing gold. More success came in the men’s event as Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter overcame a broken seat and a restart to end up in the silver medal position, edged out by a strong Danish crew.
British boats have now won four golds, two silvers and three bronzes, beating rivals New Zealand and Germany to top the rowing medal table.