Olympic review series: British women’s Olympic pair landmark result
Just over two months ago the greatest sports show on Earth, the London 2012 Olympic Games ended. The Olympic rowing regatta just outside of London at Eton Dorney featured 14 rowing events. Over the next few weeks World Rowing will review these 14 events.
We begin with the women’s pair that raced on 1 August 2012 and finished in a huge fanfare when Great Britain won their first gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. It was also their first Olympic rowing gold medal ever in a women’s event. This honour went to a duo that only came together in 2010 initially ranked as Great Britain’s number three women’s pair – Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
Glover and Stanning are proof that Great Britain’s talent ID programme for rowing works. Both Glover and Stanning started rowing through the talent ID programme with Glover being identified just four years ago.
Says Glover, “I ran cross country internationally and played lots of other sports such as hockey, tennis and swimming,” before she looked into rowing. Glover remembers when she first began her training with the talent ID programme, she was told that someone in her group could be a 2012 Olympic gold medallist. Glover took this to heart.
A PE teacher, Glover, 26, made the British national rowing team in 2010 when she and Stanning were paired up at a World Rowing Cup as Great Britain’s third women’s pair. In their second international race they finished fifth beating their fellow British crews. Later that year at the World Rowing Championships, Glover and Stanning were chosen as the British pair. They proved their worth by earning silver.
Stanning, 27, began rowing in 2006. “I played a number of sports at school, was a bit of a jack of all trades but master at none. I really enjoyed the physical and outdoor aspect of it all,” says Stanning. “At university I wanted to try something new and rowing was it!” The following year she became an under-23 World Champion in the pair.
A captain in the British army, Stanning took leave from her job for the last two years to focus on the Olympics. She has now returned to the army but already has plans to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Glover is yet to decide.
Through the 2012 season Glover and Stanning went unbeaten and the Olympic pair final had them as the favourites to win. They didn’t just win, they dominated. Within the first 30 strokes of the race Glover and Stanning had push out ahead of the field and by the middle of the race the British duo had built up to an open water lead.
Coming into the final sprint the gap closed on Glover and Stanning as the reigning World Champions, Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown of New Zealand found themselves in a brutal sprint with Australia’s Kate Hornesy and Sarah Tait as well as Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka of the United States.
Hornsey and Tait, using a 45 stroke rate pace managed to overhaul the New Zealanders to take silver with Haigh and Scown scraping through to bronze over the United States who finished just 20/100th of a second outside of the bronze medal. The reigning Olympic Champions, Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu of Romania, who came out of retirement in time for the London Olympics, were fifth with Germany in sixth.