Olympics: Rowers Win Team GB’s First Gold
Women’s rowing pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning have won Team GB’s first gold medal of the London Olympics.
The duo also became the first British women to take an Olympic rowing gold in front of an ecstatic crowd at Eton Dorney.
A short while later the men’s eight took bronze behind Germany and Canada, the champions in Beijing.
Glover and Stanning led from the front in a dominant performance which saw the opposition trail in their wake.
The favourites, they crossed the line in 7 minutes, 27.13 seconds. Australia took silver, a length back, with New Zealand earning the bronze.
After finishing Glover and Stanning hugged each other with joy and saluted the crowd, which included Princes William and Harry and the Princess Royal.
Stanning told the BBC: “I’m absolutely shattered and absolutely ecstatic at the same time. I want to collapse but I’m just so overjoyed, I just want to jump around at the same time.”
Glover appeared to smile as the pair approached the finish line. “It was probably a grimace,” she said. “I don’t remember smiling because I never remember thinking we’ve got this.”
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the rowers’ success during a visit to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
“Fantastic news, well done to them, a great success for the United Kingdom team,” he said.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: “It is an absolutely fantastic result. First home gold and the first ever female rowing gold medal, so two pieces of Olympic history and a really great race.”
Stanning, 27, a British army captain, and Glover, 26, a former physical education teacher, are unbeaten in 2012 and set an Olympic-best time in the heats. They have only been rowing together for three years.
The pair were never threatened during the race. After 1,000 metres they were 3.42 seconds ahead, and more then five seconds ahead of New Zealand at the 1,500-metre marker.
As they raced along the packed the grandstands in the final 300 meters, they visibly tired but were too far ahead to be caught.
There are high hopes of more gold later today when Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins competes in the men’s road cycling time trial.
Fellow Briton Chris Froome is also in contention for a medal, while Emma Pooley, aims for the podium in the women’s 29km time trial.
She will be riding alongside Lizzie Armitstead, who on Sunday claimed Britain’s first medal of the Games with silver in the road race.
This evening at the Aquatics Centre, Michael Jamieson and Andrew Willis will be competing in the men’s 200m breast stroke.
Both stand a good chance of getting on to the podium after Jamieson qualified first in the semis and Willis came third.
Jemma Lowe could also just snatch a medal in the women’s 200m butterfly final.
In gymnastics, Dan Purvis is in with a chance after finishing fourth at last year’s World Championships and qualifying fifth.
Today’s competitors are hoping to go one better than the equestrian team, including the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips, who captured silver medals in the eventing at Greenwich Park on Tuesday.
Britain’s relatively poor medal haul so far has apparently led to UK Sport, who provide athletes’ funding, to lower their predicted total for GB at London 2012 from 70 to 60. The team brought home 47 medals from Beijing four years ago.