Rowing: Golden Grainger puts Britain first

Great Britain finished the World Championships on top of the medal table after Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins secured a fifth gold in the women's double sculls on New Zealand's Lake Karapiro yesterday.

It was fitting that it was Grainger, Britain's most successful female oarswoman, who should win the crucial gold as she made it five world titles in a distinguished career.

Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells in the men's double sculls and the men's eight had to settle for silver when both could have won gold while the women's eight were disappointed only to finish fourth.

Grainger's first world title came in the women's pair in 2003 and she was part of the quadruple sculls crew that won gold for three years in a row between 2005 and 2007.

The 34-year-old said: "Every one is very special and very individual. I'm hugely proud of this one, this is the most successful season I've ever had, so it just keeps getting better."

Grainger and Watkins first tried the double in January and it has been an instant success, with three World Cup wins earlier this season positioning them as the clear favourites for gold. And they never looked like faltering as they took an early lead and then extended it all the way to the finish to leave Australia and Poland to battle it out for silver and bronze.

Grainger continued: "It's always an honour to come in as favourites, it shows we've had a successful season. We always felt there were going to be some surprises within the field so we didn't come into it complacent."

Watkins was thrilled to be able to enjoy the moment of securing her first senior world title rather than having to scrap for the line.

The 27-year-old said: "We know we've got a strong start and haven't, in any race up until now, shown what we can do through the middle. We got into our rhythm and just felt in control. It was so enjoyable, you can't help but row your best when you're enjoying racing as much as that."

The men's eight put in a tremendous performance in the final race of the regatta and were closing in on defending champions Germany with every stroke as the line approached. However, it was not quite enough, with the Germans winning by less than a second.