3 Aug 2012

NZ rowing pair win gold medal

10:02 am on 3 August 2012

New Zealand has won its first gold medal at the London Olympics, with rowers Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan coming from behind to win the men's double sculls final.

The 2010 and 2011 world champions won in 6 minutes 31.67s at the Eton Dorney course.

After the race Sullivan, 25, admitted he didn't expect it, but everything came together in the race.

The New Zealand pair got away slowly and were last at the 500m mark.

By the halfway point, Sullivan and Cohen had brought themselves up to fifth, but still trailed by 3.5 seconds.

Gradually their strength began to tell and they were fourth at the 1500m point.

Slovenia were fading fast and the Italians and Argentinians ahead were showing signs of strain.

The New Zealanders covered the final 500m in 1min 33.90s, more than three seconds faster than any other crew.

Sullivan said the last 500m was where other crews paid and New Zealand benefited.


New Zealand Rowing high performance manager Allan Cotter said the plan was always for them to wait and then lift it over the closing stages.

NZ Rowing chief executive Simon Peterson said their effort was particularly exceptional because of their size.

Cohen is 184cm tall and weighs 85kgs, and Sullivan is 182cm tall and weighs 82kgs, compared with the largest rower in the field, Saulius Ritter of Lithuania, who's 202cm tall and weighs 105kgs.

Peterson told Morning Report that Cohen and Sullivan have an unconventional rowing style, but they know their tactics well, and it was with brute strength and power that they were able to pass the other rowers.

The victory means New Zealand has won golds at four successive Olympic rowing regattas since Rob Waddell in 2000 and the Evers-Swindell twins in 2004 and 2008.

It is the 18th rowing medal won by New Zealand at Olympic Games.

Other events

Earlier, Peter Taylor and Storm Uru qualified for their men's lightweight double sculls final and Emma Twigg for the women's single sculls final.

Former world champions Taylor and Uru finished second in their semi-final in six minutes and 36 seconds, just behind the winning Danish pair.

The third-placed Germans join them in the final, which is on Friday.

Twigg finished third in her semi final with a time of 7 minutes 46.71 seconds behind Fie Erichsen of Denmark and Xiuyun Zhang of China.

Her final will also be raced on Friday.

Men's four miss out

Earlier, the men's rowing four narrowly missed out on a place in their final. Needing a top-three finish to get through, Chris Harris, Sean O'Neill, Jade Uru and Tyson Williams came fourth in their semi-final.

The race was won by the United States; Greece and Germany were the other two qualifiers. The New Zealand four will now contest the B final.

The women's lightweight double sculls pair of Louise Ayling and Julia Edward also failed to make the final in their event, finishing fifth in their semi-final in a time of seven minutes and 15 seconds.

Great Britain, Greece and Germany took the top three spots to qualify.

Ayling and Edward will now compete in the B final.