Another golden Olympic hour for NZ

By Robert Lowe, NZ Newswire August 4, 2012, 4:04 am

New Zealand has another golden Olympic hour to celebrate after a quick-fire double success at the rowing regatta of the London Games.

Just over 40 minutes after Eric Murray and Hamish Bond crossed the finish line to claim the men's pair title, Mahe Drysdale - who had been sick with nerves beforehand - did the same in the single sculls.

Their achievement comes 52 years after the original golden hour in Rome, when Murray Halberg followed up Peter Snell's 800-metre victory by winning the 5000 metres.

Murray and Bond, unbeaten since teaming up in 2009, were the red-hot favourites for their final on Friday and they duly delivered another commanding performance.

Drysdale had a tougher fight before holding off his main rival, Czech Ondrej Synek, by three-quarters of a length.

That took New Zealand's medal tally to five, including three gold, all won at the rowing venue of Eton Dorney, west of London.

It lifted them to 10th on the medal table, well clear of neighbours Australia who have enjoyed just one golden moment.

Five-time world champion Drysdale had gone into the medal race looking to erase the disappointment of Beijing 2008.

Then, he was also the reigning world champion but was laid low by a stomach bug and battled on to finish third.

He was sick again this time around, not from illness, but from nerves, and vomited about two hours before the start.

He says he's felt like that only once before - at the national championships this year.

"It's not a nice feeling," he said.

"It was probably one of the worst mornings of my life." The 33-year-old admits that one reason he found it so tough is that what he terms his "failure" four years ago remained at the back of his mind.

"Had I won in Beijing, it would have been a lot easier this morning because it would have felt like I had already achieved that goal."

Sitting fourth at the 500-metre mark, Drysdale lifted a gear to hit the front by the halfway stage.

He then pulled away from Synek to be ahead by a length with 500m to go.

The Czech put in a spurt to try to make up the gap, but Drysdale held on by three-quarters of a length in a time of 6min 57.82sec.

For Synek, who won the world title at Lake Karapiro two years ago, it was his second successive Olympic silver.

Bronze went to Britain's Alan Campbell.

Drysdale believes the deciding stretch of the contest was the third 500 metres.

"I was starting to get a bit of a lead on Ondrej and it was there that I went and put everything into it," he said.

"I could see him coming at me and I was hoping he wasn't going to have much of a sprint because I didn't have anything left."

The other New Zealand crew in action, Fi Paterson and Anna Reymer, came fifth in the final of the women's doubles sculls, the event compatriots Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell won at the past two Olympics.

Britain's Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger took the gold.

NZN rlo/smm

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