New Zealand have claimed two more rowing golds at the Tokyo Olympics, with Emma Twigg powering to victory in the single sculls and the men’s eight upsetting the odds to beat much more fancied rivals.
After Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler won New Zealand’s first gold in the women’s coxless pairs on Thursday, Twigg immediately doubled the tally in the first race of the morning on the Sea Forest Waterway on Friday.
The 2014 world champion led from start to finish to break the Olympic record by five seconds and notch up New Zealand’s first ever gold medal in the solo event.
Twigg, 34, who finished fourth in her last two appearances in the Olympics, said: “I’m lost for words. I can’t believe it. All these years, many, many disappointments. I can’t thank the people I have surrounded myself with enough. They got me here. That’s not my result, it’s my team.”
New Zealand’s men’s eight only scraped into the final and were not expected to reach the podium, let alone the very top spot.
But the Kiwis, who last won the men’s eights at Munich in 1972, relegated world champions Germany to silver while 2016 Olympic champions Great Britain came in third.
The names of Thomas Mackintosh, Hamish Bond, Tom Murray, Michael Brake, Dan Williamson, Phillip Wilson, Shaun Kirkham, Matt MacDonald and cox Sam Bosworth will pass into the nation’s sporting history.
New Zealand’s women’s eight also put up an excellent showing by fighting off China to claim silver behind Canada in first place.
Hamish Bond, who has now won three Olympic golds, summed up the team’s success.
“To turn up to an Olympic final and win a medal, I’m so proud of everyone’s efforts throughout the year,” Bond said.
“And also of the whole team. The women’s team have been our benchmark for the whole year. Obviously, being away tucked down in New Zealand we haven’t had that international racing, but we’ve been comparing ourselves to that women’s crew for the whole 12 months – if we could get up to their benchmark, we were going to be in with a shout.”