LONDON: Great Britain’s Katherine Grainger finally became an Olympic champion while New Zealand took two titles at the London 2012 rowing regatta Friday.
Grainger, with partner Anna Watkins, sent the capacity partisan crowd wild when claiming gold in the women’s double sculls.
The 36-year-old Glaswegian was climbing to the top of the podium for the first time after three Olympic silver medals in her long and distinguished career.
The British duo, the reigning world champions, were the crew to beat after setting a new Olympic record in the semifinals earlier in the week.
And so it proved as they held off Australia to extend their unbeaten run to 23 races. Poland finished well off the pace to take bronze.
Grainger, who has taken a sabbatical from studying for a doctorate in homicide to achieve her sporting dream, was immediately enveloped in a bearhug by Steve Redgrave, Britain’s five-time Olympic rowing gold medalist, after stepping out of the boat.
“We knew we had all the goods to perform, so it’s job well done,” Grainger said after regaining her breath.
“Of all my medals this is really one for the people,” she added.
“This is for everyone who has helped me and supported me along the way, from my family, through school, and so on.”
Watkins added: “I had to ask Katherine if it was all a dream, I can’t believe it.”
British women were experiencing a case of the proverbial London bus syndrome – you wait an age for one to come along and them two turn up at once – as this win came just 48 hours after Heather Stanning and Helen Glover had supplied the host nation with their first ever women’s Olympic rowing gold.
It was also a memorable day on the water for New Zealand.
Kiwis Eric Murray and Hamish Bond lived up to their status as hot favorites to claim gold in the men’s pair, with France narrowly prevailing over Great Britain in a scramble for silver.
That was followed up by New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale winning gold in the men’s single sculls.
Drysdale, ill when taking bronze at the Beijing Games four years ago, was followed across the line by Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic, with Britain’s Alan Campbell third.
In the day’s other final, Germany led from start to finish in the men’s quadruple sculls.
Croatia, champions in Beijing in 2008, took silver, a boat length adrift, with Australia grabbing bronze.
The German crew comprised Karl Schulze, Philipp Wende, Lauritz Schoof and Tim Grohmann.
The runners-up at the 2011 world championships claimed Germany’s second rowing title of the London Olympics after their men’s eights struck gold Wednesday.
Schulze and his teammates powered clear from the first stroke with Croatia, favorites after scoring the fastest time in the semifinals, never mounting a serious threat.