Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Tom James and Alex Gregory beat arch-rivals Australia in sensational fashion to win Britain’s fourth consecutive Olympic title in the coxless fours.
Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland, who only came together in a lightweight double scull three months ago, then produced a stunning performance to win Britain’s fourth rowing gold.
Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase won silver but lost their Olympic title in the men’s lightweight double sculls to Denmark and were still inconsolable hours after a race of high drama. The final had to be stopped when Purchase broke his seat and on the restart it appeared as if Britain would claim another gold, until the Danes snatched victory with a late surge to the line.
France then protested at the result, hoping in vain to get Britain disqualified over the stoppage but Britain’s silver was confirmed when governing body FISA dismissed the appeal.
With four golds – and an incredible nine medals in total from an unprecedented 13 finalists – London 2012 was Great Britain’s most
successful Olympic regatta ever.
The previous best performance had been at the London Olympics of 1908, when Britain entered more than one crew in some classes and won eight medals, including four golds.
But this performance at Eton Dorney raised the bar to new levels and left even Jurgen Grobler, GB Rowing’s chief men’s coach, wondering whether things could get any better.
Britain enjoyed an extraordinary hour on the lake at Eton Dorney, kick-started by the men’s four who extended Britain’s dominance in the event with a fourth consecutive title.
“What we did today took guts,” said Reed, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. “We knew the other crews would be there, we knew we had to put together a plan that took the race on. It takes courage from all four.
“We handled ourselves extremely well. We did exactly what we said we were going to do. When what you say you are going to do is so far beyond what you think you can do, it takes bravery. Double Olympic champion, I can’t believe it! You run through everything in your mind before the race, you never think about afterwards. The hours we do, the pain. It’s all worth it at the end.”
Australia’s veteran oarsman Drew Ginn suggested in the build-up to the showdown that their tactic of leading from the front had Britain running scared. Today it was Britain who set the pace, digging deep to fend off a push from Australia in the third 500 metres and powering to victory.
The Dorney roar that greeted their triumph was one of the loudest of the regatta. “It was utterly terrifying,” Hodge said. “There is so much support and goodwill. It really built our confidence and belief but it also takes you closer to the cliff edge. It could be great or it could be a disaster.
“To stand there as Olympic champion, in front of a home crowd, I am humbled.”