RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - British crews topped the medals table in the Olympic rowing regatta with three golds but rowers from New Zealand and the United States also put in mighty performances to provide plenty of thrills in the spectacular setting of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.
The day’s program was twice called off when high winds made the water too rough but the sun shone for an exciting final day which saw the regatta’s most breath-taking action.
In the men’s single skulls final, defending champion Martin Drsydale of New Zealand was pushed all the way by Croatia’s Damir Martin. The decision went to a photo-finish after they crossed the line at the same time, with Martin seeming to surge forward. The gold went to Drysdale.
The New Zealander’s compatriots Hamish Bond and Eric Murray maintained their unbeaten streak, easily winning the men’s pair.
Bond and Murray, who took gold in the event at 2012’s London Games, had broken away with a commanding lead by the race’s midway point and only widened the distance between themselves and the rest of the pack as the race went on.
The victory reaffirmed their status as one of the greatest rowing partnerships of all time. They have not lost a race since they teamed up in 2009 but afterwards Bond admitted the pressure was taking its toll and he would need to think about his future.
Also extending a remarkable winning record were the United States women’s eight. The crew came into the Games as huge favorites, appearing unbeatable after winning gold at both the 2012 and 2008 Games, and they powered to the top medal again. Under coach Tom Terhaar, they have won every race for 10 years.
Britain’s Helen Glover and Heather Stanning successfully defended their Olympic crown in the women’s pair, extending a five-year unbeaten run over 39 races.
Despite the veterans’ dominance, there were still some hard-fought contests and the battles for silvers were often intense.
In the regatta’s final race, Britain’s men’s eight defeated their rivals in the favored German boat to claim gold, leaving Germany with two golds overall to share second place in the rowing medals table with New Zealand.
Reporting by Angus MacSwan and Amy Tennery; Editing by Clare Fallon