The lightweight coxless fours might not have the same high regard in the eyes of British People than the event which Sir Steve Redgrave took part in and won gold twice at either end of his prestigious Olympic career but for the British team of Rob Williams, Chris Bartley and brothers Peter and Richard Chambers, it means the world.
Yet another medal to add to the ever growing number that Britain has attained over the years but the first one in this division adds to the history that the women’s coxless pair achieved the day before.
The six teams of the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Denmark, South Africa and Great Britain had got there on merit due to some almost near heroic displays in the heats and semi-finals, for the British four especially they narrowly beat the Swiss and the Dutch in the semi-finals by the smallest of margins. However in the semi-finals they did mark down the quickest time out of all 12 nations that had got that far. In the second semi-final their two main rivals for the gold, South Africa and Denmark finished over the six minute mark, meaning if Britain could carry the momentum forward from Tuesday they could get Britain’s third gold of the Olympics.
The crowds at Eton Dorney cannot be faulted for their enthusiasm in how they have cheered on, not just the British competitors but every nation taking part. However the audiences that were there to witness the day’s events seemed louder, more in tune with the sports’ talent on show and although disappointed in the result of the men’s coxless pairs earlier in the morning’s session still roared their approval as one of the spectacular races of the Olympics so far went on before them.
It was a race the much fancied Danes should have won but Britain and South Africa pushed them hard over the 2,000 metres course, Australia hung in for a while too before fading dramatically. The last 50 metres saw Great Britain surge and for the briefest of moments looked to have timed the finish brilliantly only to see South Africa also have a similar game plan of attack and pip them to the finishing line by 0.25 of a second.
It was a marvellous race and proves that for Rio in 2012, there might just be another British team aiming for gold.
Gold: South Africa.
Silver: Great Britain.
Ian D. Hall