London 2012 Olympics: Triumph for women’s rowers, heartache for double sculls
A SURPRISE victory for Britain in the women’s lightweight double sculls rounded off a triumphant day of Olymplic rowing yesterday.
The men’s coxless four also clinched gold in front of a rapturous crowd at Eton Dorney. But the men’s double sculls team narrowly failed to repeat its success in Beijing four years ago, taking silver after being beaten by the Danes.
Kate Copeland had to be reassured by her double sculls team mate, Edinburgh-born Sophie Hosking, that the pair had secured an unexpected win against world champions Greece.
The two, who were only paired together a few months ago, seemed in disbelief at their achievement, with Copeland screaming: “It can’t be real! We’ve just won the Olympics!” before a tearful medal ceremony.
Members of Kat Copeland’s rowing club said they were “ecstatic” when she won her gold medal. Tees Rowing Club got together at the Devonport Hotel, in Middleton St George, near Darlington, to watch her triumph.
Club captain Steven Leigh said: “We were just ecstatic. It was fantastic, absolutely fantastic. She has done us so proud.” While the men’s coxless four team’s victory came as less of a shock, it meant no less to Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Tom James and Alex Gregory, who delivered a stylish win in a time of 6 minutes 3.97 seconds.
Reed, a Royal Navy Officer, said: “It’s been an amazing build up in the last five weeks. The heavens opened and the rain poured [before our race] but it just felt right somehow.”
Gregory added: “We were ahead at the 500 [metres] which was unusual. I was so confident we could hold on. Everything’s been worthwhile. My little boy will take the medal to school with him in a few years and tell about his dad being an Olympic champion.”
But while the London Games will go down as British rowing’s most successful, that was little consolation to Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, who were left heartbroken after they were pipped at the post by Denmark after leading for most of the men’s double sculls race.
Five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave had to rush to help a distraught Hunter to his feet and carry him from his boat.
Despite the pair winning a silver medal, they said: “sorry to everybody we’ve let down” in a tearful interview, shown live on TV.
Purchase sobbed: “We’ll spend the next weeks, months, the rest of our lives wondering if we could have done any more.”
Hunter’s mother Joan said after the race that the pair were “beating themselves up” over their failure to secure gold. “They need to get themselves to a good place and savour what they have achieved.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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