Hunter and Purchase regain drive for glory


Eton Dorney

Water may be the same everywhere you go, but the breezes over Eton Dorney are plainly favouring the host nation – bearing, as they do, the ardent cheers that yesterday sustained two more wins from just three entered heats.

If the lightweight double scull crews, male and female, won through in contrasting fashion, both were united in the reserves they discovered. You could almost see Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase, in particular, dig into one last seam of courage as the galleries implored them to hold a magnificent rally by their rivals.

Having been drawn in adjacent lanes, both the British and New Zealand boats seemed intent on making a statement. Hunter and Purchase had arrived as the defending Olympic champions, but their preparation had been so abysmal –  lame sixth places in both Lucerne and Munich – that Sir Steve Redgrave suggested only an abiding kernel of class made another gold appear anything less than “ridiculous”. Suddenly, however, it seems an entirely sober aspiration.

They broke away like greyhounds, at a hectic 50 strokes a minute, and built an advantage of half a length over the first 500 metres. By halfway, they seemed to be stretching Storm Uru and Peter Taylor, but it was back down to half a length with 500 to go and thereafter, the margin almost halved by the finish, it became an increasingly brutal battle of attrition.

“We had some convincing to do – not only to everyone watching, but also ourselves,” Purchase admitted. “For us it was a case of going out and showing we are a crew to be reckoned with. It’s a real confidence-builder. Being drawn against the Kiwis we knew we had to produce a good race. But everyone knows Mark and I are capable of rising to the big occasion and they don’t get any bigger than the Olympic Games.”

If their male counterparts had to retrieve the lost paths of glory, the emerging Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland were claiming a share of the limelight claimed by the other partnerships in their camp: whether Glover and Stanning, who had got the regatta off to a flying start the previous day, or Watkins and Grainger, who finally take to the water today.

As for Purchase and Hunter, the principal obstacle in their heat had appeared to be New Zealand. Their opponents tried to assert early, but Hosking and Copeland had edged ahead by halfway, and steadily drew clear thereafter. Even the first shower of the regatta was not enough to quench a luminous conviction that anything is possible for British oars this week. The New Zealanders, perhaps broken by their early dash, ultimately proved unable to hold Denmark for the second qualification berth. Hosking’s recent switch to stroke has clearly given these two new impetus, and they set a time seven seconds faster than the medal favourites, Greece, in their heat.

In the only reverse of the day, the Ladies’ Eight were overwhelmed by a superhuman crew. Unbeaten since winning gold in Beijing, the Americans surged remorselessly clear, albeit the British were ultimately held for second with disappointing ease by Australia. “It wasn’t our best row,” conceded Jess Eddie. “It’s probably good to get one like that out of the way.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
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

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride