Tokyo Olympics: Rowers make it double gold in nailbiting finishes
The Australian men’s coxless fours have made it a double on the water this morning, taking the gold medal in the Men’s Four rowing for the first time in 25 years.
It followed Australia winning gold in the Women’s Four in a spectacular start to a busy day on the water on day five at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
In a remarkable performance, the men - Alex Hill, Alex Purnell, Spencer Turrin and Jack Hargreaves - led from start to finish.
They have also only lost one race during the current Olympic cycle.
By 500m they had clear water and a 13 second lead but by the last 50m a fast finishing Romania almost snatched victory, finishing just 0.37 seconds behind. Italy were third.
The gold for Australia broke Great Britain’s stranglehold on the event. Great Britain have won gold in the Men’s Four at every Olympics since 2000.
Nick Green, one of the members of that Oarsome Foursome team, told Channel 7 that he was thrilled at the result.
“The crew that won the medal in 1996, we have been communicating with each other this week.,” he told Channel 7.
“We want the new Aussies to take over and we’ll all be absolutely tearing up by this result. Both the men’s and women’s four were just excellent.
“I can’t express how happy I am – like, we’ve taken back this boat class. We’ve got silvers for three Olympics in a row - 2008, 2012 and 2016.”
Just 20 minutes earlier, Rosemary Popa, Lucy Stephan, Jessica Morrison and WA’s Annabelle McIntyre cemented their place in Olympic history, recording an Olympic best time of 6.15.37 minutes to cross the finish line ahead of the Netherlands by just 0.34 seconds in a tight race.
The Aussies, in lane three, kicked things off strong, with McIntyre in the stroke seat leading the crew at a stroke rate of 42.
Crossing the halfway mark at 3.08.56 minutes in front of the pack, the green and gold crew stepped things up 1100m in, pulling away from the Dutch crew who managed to maintain contact.
The bow ball of the crew in lane four moved up two seats on the Australian crew in less than 200m, stepping up the rate to jump on the Aussies again.
Despite an intense final sprint to the line, the green and gold crew managed to hold off the Dutch boat’s charge, with the Netherlands 0.34 seconds behind.
Leading the pack behind them was the crew from Ireland, who won bronze.
They were welcomed into shore to a massive round of applause - the sheer elation and exhaustion visible across each of them women’s faces.
Days earlier the Aussie crew set an Olympic record in their heat — today living up to their top billing.
It is the first time the Women’s Four event has been at the Olympic Games since the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, replacing the lightweight men’s four in this year’s program as part of a push for gender equality.
Australia’s fruitful day of rowing did not end with the two gold medals, with the nation also claiming two bronze medals.
The team of Jack Cleary, Caleb Antill, Cameron Girdlestone and Luke Letcher finished behind the Netherlands and Great Britain to finish third in the men’s quadruple sculls.
The women’s quadruple sculls team - Ria Thomson, Rowena Meredith, Harriet Hudson and Caitlin Cronin - also took out bronze.
China won in an Olympic record time of 6.05.13 minutes to dominate the field, with Poland 6.23 seconds behind to edge out Australia by 0.72 seconds.
Perth athlete McIntyre has a big day ahead, racing in the Women’s Pair semifinal this afternoon.
West Australian rowers Jack Cleary (Men’s Quad A Final), and Bronwyn Cox and Giorgia Patten (Women’s Eight Repechage) round out a long day on the water.
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