Gold for Pinsent's four - by eight-hundredths of a second

Matthew Pinsent joined the Olympic immortals this morning when he led the coxless four to gold for Britain after the tightest of photo finishes on an unforgettable morning at the Schinias rowing centre.

The man from Eton, who had garnered three Olympic golds while racing in the shadow of Sir Steven Redgrave, made it four in a row to go within one of the record of his big pal and Britain's greatest Olympian.

But the margin over Canada was the blink of an eye - just eight hundreths of a second.

For James Cracknell it was his second gold to go with the one he won in Sydney, while for Ed Coode and Steve Williams it was their first taste of Olympic triumph.

What a fantastic ending to a story which had been bedevilled by disruption, injury and political in-fighting for the best part of 18 months.

And what an endorsement of the talents of German coach Jurgen Grobler who ruthlessly axed Tony Garbett and Rick Dunn from the boat to incorporate Pinsent and Cracknell from their ill-fated initial challenge in the pairs.

In the end it was a crew which had been together just six weeks and had rowed just one regatta before coming to Athens.

But with Pinsent's inspiration and good old-fashioned British grit and determination the four saw off the challenge of the technically superior Canadians in a race rippling with tension.

Fans, nervous with anticipation but buoyed by the earlier silver won by Kath Grainger and Cath Bishop in the women's pairs and the bronze gathered by Sarah Winckless and Elise Laverick in the women's double sculls, had pitched their Union Jacks in front of the stands which formed a colourful backdrop in front of the Schinias mountains.

They were swiftly roaring their support as Britain took an early lead at 500metres, however, the margin was just 0.41 seconds with the Canadian danger boat holding its form and Australia third.

At the halfway mark the margin was still just 0.44 seconds with virtually nothing between Britain and Canada and a nervous ripple went around the stands.

And then came the most important phase of the race. This past week Pinsent had admitted that they had lost concentration during the second-half, failed to increase their effort when it was vital.

There is no place for such complacency in Olympic finals. This time the experience, desire and sheer grit of the British crew was clear to see in the grimace of Cracknell and the jutting determination of Pinsent.

At 1500m the Canadians had clawed their way into the lead by half a second and we feared the worst.

But then came that grit and all those painful hours though as they raced to the line it was impossible to tell which boat held the advantage.

In the end it needed that photo-finish and there was an anxious wait before the scoreboard flashed up the result which all Britain wanted to see - gold medallists by the slenderest of margins.

Britain's time was 6:06.98 with the Canadians eight hundreths of a second back and Italy third. But it was medals, not times, which mattered.

And Pinsent had joined a hall of fame of gold medal winners at four successive Games such as the great Carl Lewis, Danish sailor Paul Elvstrom and American discus thrower Al Oerter.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones