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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tom James, Steve Williams, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge of Great Britain compete

Tom James, Steve Williams, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge of Great Britain compete. (Photo credit: Wang Lei/Xinhua)

Great Britain won its third consecutive Men's Four to end a busy day of medal races in sunny Shunyi, which started with a stunning 0.44 second victory for Bulgaria's Rumyana Neykova in the Women's Single Sculls.

Missing gold by a fraction of a second in the first final A of the day was Michelle Guerette of the United States. Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus won bronze in her first major race loss since 2005.

After a slow start in the Men's Single Sculls, Olaf Tufte of Norway rowed down the Czech Republic's Ondrej Synek and triple world champion and race favorite Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand, who sought medical attention immediately after the race, in the last 250m to seal back-to-back victories. The Norwegian drew on all his international experience to perfectly time his race and cover the course in 6:59.83.

Romania's Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu took the Women's Pair gold medal. They ran a characteristically controlled race to record 7:20.60 and finish in front China (7:22.28) and Belarus (7:22.91). The victory earned Andrunache a fifth and Susanu a fourth career Olympic gold medal. Both have the opportunity to add another when they contest Sunday's Women's Eights final.

Australians Duncan Free and Drew Ginn won the first of two gold medals for Australia when they emphatically took out the Men's Pair. As they had done in their earlier rows, the world champions started quickly, settled into their racing rhythm at the 300m mark and dictated the pace. They won by two seconds in 6:37.44, while Canada's Scott Frandsen and David Calder (6:39.55) wtook third and ith New Zealanders Nathan Twaddle and George Bridgewater (6:44.19) grabbed bronze.

New Zealand twins Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell successfully defended their Women's Double Sculls Olympic title. In a nail-biting finish, the New Zealanders (7:07.32) triumphed by the barest of margins over Germany's Annekatrin Thiele and Christiane Huth (7:07.33) and Britain's bronze medalists Elise Laverick and Anna Beblington (7:07.55). Only a photo could separate the three crews on the line.

Australia won their second gold medal of the regatta with victory in the Men's Double Sculls. Scott Brennan and David Crawshay had not lost a qualifying race all week and again looked in command over the 2,000m distance. They won the gold medal in 6:27,77 from Estonia pair Juri Jaanson and Tonu Endrekson Nrekson (6:29.05), with Stephen Rowbotham and Matthew Wells of Great Britain taking bronze in 6:29.10.

The Men's Four final delivered a classic match race between two NOC's that have shared the Olympic title since the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games -- Great Britain and Australia. After setting the early pace, Australia headed into the 1,500m mark with a narrow lead over Great Britain, France and Slovenia. It was shortly after passing through that mark that Great Britain lifted their work rate and established a lead that would take them to the finish line as 1.28 second winners over Australia. France finished with the Bronze medal.

The win in the Four gives Great Britain a gold medal in Men's Rowing for the seventh straight Olympics and brings the nation level with the Soviet Union who won gold at seven Olympic Games in a row between 1952 and 1976, a streak which is only bettered by the United States. The United States won gold at every Olympic Games from 1920 to 1964, a total of 10 Olympics in succession.

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