Rowers: 'We really paid for that with our souls'

Britain's rowing team picked up their Olympic record where they left off in Athens: a gold medal for the men's four. "We really paid for that with our souls," said Steve Williams, the sole survivor of the 2004 boat. "Athens was an epic journey, but I think we can possibly top that this year.

"We've all had back injuries in the last 12 months. Even a month ago we were having injuries. We've had some real low moments, but you carry each other through when you don't know if you're going to get on the start line," he added.

The race into a light headwind on the sunny Shunyi course did not go the customary British way of taking the lead from stroke one and watching the others scrapping behind you. Instead, the Australians dug really deep and stole the show for three-quarters of the distance. When the British stroke, Andy Hodge, looked round with 500 metres of the course left, he could just catch sight of the Aussies' stern.

"I said, 'Jesus', and we started to take the rate up and up, and at 250 to go it was all out from there," said Hodge. "I wouldn't like to say that we planned to do that, but we really had to bring out our final gear. I'm glad to say that it worked. It shocked the hell out of me."

It was a sublime moment as Hodge put his foot down and took Williams, Tom James and Pete Reed with him. Edging forward became a leap and a bound and James, in the bow seat, passed his opposite number in the Aussie boat. "It was like when you close your eyes just before a crash," Hodge said. "You close your eyes and hope for the best. I didn't see anything, just tried to keep the boat in a straight line."

The result of that, and possibly of invoking the Almighty, was Hodge's crew (pictured) were three seconds quicker than Australia over the last 500m. The victory was down to the line.

Jürgen Grobler, who has maintained his record of coaching crews to gold medals each time he has had one at the Games since 1976, acknowledged the achievement of the Australians, who appeared on the scene only recently. But he explained how his crew cope with taking arace to the last stroke, just as his Sydney and Athens fours did.

"I know exactly over the four years what they can do, what kind of character they have, how deep they can dig, and that's what you have to do on a day like today," he said. "The last 100 metres is in the brain. It is still sending the signal down when it gets a little bit dark. To still hold together and pull together is the main message."

Alan Campbell's brave regatta while he is still recovering from a knee infection fizzled out with a fifth place in the single sculls behind a titanic struggle between the Athens champion, Olaf Tufte, and the world champ-ion, Mahe Drysdale, the Norwegian Tufte taking his second straight gold.

Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington turned their rocket booster on for the best race of their lives in the double sculls. The medals were decided on a photo finish, New Zealand winning by one hundredth of a second from Germany with Britain in bronze position a fifth of a second behind and closing.

The men's double scullers, Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham, also won bronze and were fading when the Estonians caught them on the last stroke to take the silver behind Australia, who also won the coxless pairs to put Australia at the top of the rowing medal table.

Britain's lightweight double scullers, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, will be going for gold today. They are unbeaten and on fire, and will be joined at the top end of the medal zone by the women's quadruple scullers, Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood, Fran Houghton and Katherine Grainger, and the men's eight. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the men's lightweight four and the women's eight will finish in the medal zone also.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam