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
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine