London 2012 rowing regatta the best of all time, says FISA

 

The London 2012 Olympic rowing regatta has been declared the best of all time by the sport's world governing body FISA.

Despite cross-winds forcing secretary-general Matt Smith into some tough decisions over lane draws for the finals, Eton Dorney emerged as one of the best venues of the Olympic Games.

The regatta had everything - from Great Britain's record-breaking performances to the heart-warming tale of Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka, who came 33rd and last in the single sculls but was roared home like a champion.

In between, New Zealand won three gold medals to finish second in the overall standings behind Britain, whose haul of four golds and nine medals in total was their greatest ever.

South Africa won their first rowing gold medal with a thrilling victory in the lightweight men's four while Australia, to everyone's surprise, do not have an Olympic champion.

FISA general-secretary Matt Smith said: "The president of FISA (Denis Oswald) has just called it the best Olympic regatta ever.

"A spectator evaluation said that 97% were happy and Eton Dorney was called the best Olympic venue.

"Some purists would like the Olympics to take place in Lucerne every time, but then no-one would know our sport.

"Here we have the fantastic opportunity to show 25,000 spectators (every day) our sport.

"We have to accept the outdoor aspect of it, we cannot expect perfect conditions."

Over 400,000 people enjoyed the regatta at Eton Dorney, the majority of them thrilled by Great Britain's performance but there were also flags from across the globe in the grandstands and on the grass banks.

For New Zealand, single sculler Mahe Drysdale and the men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray exorcised the ghosts of Beijing 2008 by winning gold in commanding fashion.

Drysdale, who battled for a bronze four years ago just days after suffering from gastroenteritis, finally added an Olympic crowd to his five world titles.

The Kiwi men's double scull of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan also won gold in a successful regatta for their team.

There was no stronger favourite in the regatta than Bond and Murray, who have dominated their class all Olympiad and duly romped to gold.

Bond and Murray beat France into second place, just as the All Blacks did to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

"The All Blacks are the pinnacle of sport in New Zealand and I wouldn't put the pressure we feel on the same level as them," Murray said.

"By the sheer nature of our sport we're not on display on a week-to-week basis but my biggest fear of this whole campaign was not to be able to deliver what I knew I was capable of.

"I'm just pleased that we did. Something like 17,000 strokes were taken in training for every stroke of that final - it was a lot of effort and we're pleased that it was all worthwhile."

Australia were at the other end of the scale, leaving Eton Dorney without any gold medals after their men's four and women's double scull were both beaten into silver by Great Britain.

"I think the rowing hierarchy will be disappointed," said veteran Australian oarsman Drew Ginn.

"I think if everyone goes away and reviews it properly, we'll realise we've not quite finished off the four-year campaign.

"You certainly would have thought we'd come away with at least one gold and possibly a few more medals."

London 2012 will be remembered as a breakthrough regatta for African rowing, with South Africa winning their first Olympic gold and Djibo Issaka blazing a trail for Niger.

Affectionately dubbed "Issaka the Otter", the 35-year-old arrived in London with only three months of rowing experience behind him.

Much of his training was done in an old wooden fishing boat as Niger awaits delivery of its first competition rowing boats, which are due to arrive next month.

Djibo Issaka finished 33rd and last in the single sculls, but his efforts will spearhead Niger's attempts to build a rowing programme.

Now, we don't have any boats. No boats," Ahmadou Youssoufou, a member of the Niger Olympic Committee, told Press Association Sport.

"With the help of FISA we are getting two single sculls and two double sculls and some oars.

"They are coming in the next month so we can begin this sport in our country with the equipment.

"We have rivers and we have lakes. We think we have a real potential to do this sport in our country.

"We see that Hamadou has potential for us. I think it is a good performance for him. We are very proud of him.

"At the next Olympics, Hamadou will be stronger and faster."

PA

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence