Today’s four finals saw Great Britain hold off Australia in the much anticipated men’s four. It saw Great Britain take their Olympic rowing gold medal tally to four by winning the lightweight women’s double sculls. It saw Denmark’s Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist win the lightweight men’s double sculls and it saw the Czech Republic’s Mirka Knapkova become the fastest women in the world in the women’s single sculls.  

Men’s Four (M4-) – Final
The sound of the crowd was deafening. Rowers describe it as all-encompassing and there was no doubt the sound was the biggest today when Great Britain’s name was mentioned.

Great Britain and Australia raced each other in the semifinals with Great Britain finishing ahead of the Aussies. This gave Great Britain the favoured lane in today’s lane re-allocation. In head cross-wind conditions Great Britain – Alex Gregory, Tom James, Andrew Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed – jumped out and into the lead. At Beijing James, Triggs Hodge and Reed had taken gold in this event and they were fired up for a repeat performance.

Australia competes against Greece, the Netherlands and Germany in the men’s four Final A at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

Australia also got off quickly at the start with William Lockwood, James Chapman, Drew Ginn and Joshua Dunkley-Smith following the British lead. Great Britain and Australia moved away from the field with only the United States really holding on to the leaders pace.
The epic battle at the head of the field continued with Australia rating 35 to Great Britain’s 36. The order remained the same. The roar of the crowd was unprecedented as the final 500m was being rowed. Great Britain moved to a 41 stroke rate, Australia was matching them but had not managed to catch up. The 30,000+ audience had been brought to their feet. The flags were waving. The British had done it. Great Britain’s coach Juergen Grobler had now taken gold at every Olympic Games since 1972.

Australia, in silver medal position, had Ginn win his fourth Olympic medal and a very happy United States ( Ochal, Rummel, Cole and Gault) took bronze.

Rocketing off the start line was Romania. The Romanian’s were the slowest coming through from the semifinals. Could they maintain it? Canada and Serbia were chasing hard and going through the half-way point Canada had closed on Romania.

The Romanians had no more to give. A big piece at the 1200m mark gave Canada the lead with Belarus and Serbia moving with them. Belarus has had a great season so far medalling twice in the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup series. The race was far from over.

The final sprint was dramatic. In a virtual line, Italy, from the back of the bunch, really began to pour it on at a 44 stroke rate. Belarus reacted, Lialin, Mihal, Shcharbachenia and Kazubouski went to 45 and held in there to the line to finish seventh overall. Less than three seconds separated the top five boats at the line.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Final
The World Champions, Alexandra Tsiavou and Christina Giazitzidou got off the line very quickly. Tsiavou raced at the 2008 Beijing Olympics finishing sixth and, now teamed up with Giazitzidou, they have two World Champion titles to their name.

Great Britain’s Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking followed closely with Dongxiang Xu and Wenyi Huang of China very much on the pace. Through the middle of the race margins remained close throughout the entire field with a little over two seconds separating the entire fleet.

Katherine Copeland (s) and Sophie Hosking (b) of Great Britain compete on their way to winning gold in the lightweight women’s double sculls Final A at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

Then, going through the 1250m mark everything began to change. Copeland and Hosking took their stroke rate to 39 and charged into the lead. Copeland comes to these Olympics as the Under-23 Champion in the lightweight single and she partnered up with Hosking after rigorous British Olympic trials. Hosking has been a regular in the lightweight double ever since 2009.

This huge piece took Copeland and Hosking into the lead with China and Greece trying to hold on. Denmark, Australia and Germany were now back a bit and had their work cut out for them if they wanted to get into the medals.

Copeland and Hosking held their stroke rate high and kept the pressure on, they were now clearly in the gold medal spot. Xu and Huang hung on with Giazitzidou and Tsiavou doing all that they could to stay with these boats. The crowd roared. The line had come. Great Britain had won gold. Copeland had not yet realised. She screamed in disbelief. British women had won their third Olympic rowing gold. China had taken their first medal of this regatta and Tsiavou and Giazitzidou had won the first Olympic rowing medal for women for Greece.

Two boats got out in front by a small margin – World Best Time holders Louise Ayling and Julia Edward of New Zealand and Rianne Sigmond and Maaike Head of the Netherlands. Coming through from the semifinals both of these crews finished fifth in their respective races. Sigmond and Head then pushed out to a small edge going through the middle of the race. Ayling and Edward then found themselves under pressure from Cuba. The New Zealander’s pushed on.

Coming into the final sprint, the Dutch and New Zealand were leading the field. But then last year’s silver medallists, Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee of Canada came flying. Rating 46, Jennerich and Obee were giving it their all. It had worked. Obee and Jennerich finished seventh overall.

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Final
What a dramatic opening to this race. All boats jumped off the line but just before the 100m mark Great Britain’s Zac Purchase stopped rowing. He had come off his seat. Under the rules of racing, if there is an equipment breakage in the first 100m the race is stopped and restarted. Purchase held up his seat to the umpires as the six boats rowed back to the start.

Rasmus Quist (s) and Mads Rasmussen (b) of Denmark compete on their way to winning gold in the lightweight men’s double sculls Final A at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

There is no doubt this must have been incredibly unnerving for the 12 scullers. The starting buzzer sounded and six boats powered off the line. Purchase and his partner Mark Hunter got out the fastest and successfully made it through the first 100m. Purchase and Hunter are the reigning World and Olympic Champions and a lot was riding on this race for them. Just behind the British, Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist of Denmark held on tight with New Zealand’s Storm Uru and Peter Taylor also holding on.

The final sprint came into view and Purchase and Hunter remained in the lead. Then Rasmussen and Quist started to pour on the power. They are the bronze medallists from 2008 and they have been performing marvellously through this Olympic regatta. Denmark were at 38. Great Britain were holding on. The Danes had done it. Rasmussen and Quist had cemented the dominance of Danish lightweight rowing. Purchase and Hunter had hung on to silver and Uru and Taylor had the bronze.

Italy’s Elia Luini and Pietro Ruta had the fastest start and used the strategy of getting out in front and holding on. Luini is a four-time Olympian with his best result happening 12 years ago in Sydney where he took gold. Ruta joined Luini just a couple of weeks ago after Luini’s original partner, Lorenzo Bertini could not compete due to a back injury. This is Ruta’s first Olympic Games and he comes here on the back of two 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup wins in the lightweight men’s single.

The Italians continued to lead with Eleftherios Konsolas and Panagiotis Magdanis of Greece slotting into second.
Luini and Ruta was able to hold the pace until the end with Greece holding on to second.

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Final
After a delay due the re-start in the lightweight men’s double the top women scullers in the world at these 2012 Olympic Games flew out of the starting blocks. Reigning World Champion, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic flew the fastest. Knapkova has seen two Olympic Games, one finishing fourth and the other finishing fifth. The persistent Knapkova has been in the single for her entire decade-long rowing career and it took her until 2011 to become a World Champion.

Mirka Knapkova of Czech Republic competes on her way to winning gold in the women’s single sculls Final A at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

Denmark’s new sculling phenomenon Fie Udby Erichsen followed Knapkova the closest. Erichsen had a wonderful race in the semifinals a couple of days ago, winning against some very stiff competition. She has been on the international scene since 2000 in a whole variety of boats and this is her first Olympic Games.

Going through the middle of the race Knapkova was having a stormer and had broken free to an open water lead. This left the rest of the field in nearly a line with just two seconds separating Erichsen, Kim Crow (AUS), Emma Twigg (NZL), Ekaterina Karsten (BLR) and Xiuyun Zhang (CHN).

Knapkova continued to power on, rating a rather casual 29 stroke rate, and coming into the final sprint the Czech had an enormous seven second lead. Knapkova, barring disaster, was untouchable. In the sprint to the line Erichsen and Crow managed to close on Knapkova as they battled it out for the silver medal spot. Erichsen, rating 36, had done it, earning another medal for Denmark. Knapkova had become the Olympic Champion in racing style that will go down in history.

But what an outstanding effort from Crow! She came to these Olympics as the only rower to race in two events. She competed every day for eight days and she took home a bronze and a silver medal.

Karsten, at Olympics number six, was out of the medals for the first time ever.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics the United States sculled to a medal in the single with Michelle Guerette. Now with Genevra Stone, the United States raced today in the B-final and after getting ahead of Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania Stone raced a fine race at the head of the field.

Settling to a 32 stroke rate, Stone held off this very talented field, inching away from Vistartaite as the race continued. Could Stone maintain it? In the final sprint Stone took her stroke rate to 37 to hold off Vistartaite. Vistartaite, at 34, tried to dent the lead but had to settle for second.