Sun, 26 Sep 2021

TOKYO, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The first gold medals for New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics both came in the rowing regatta here on Thursday.

Two-time world champions Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast of New Zealand came from behind to win their first Olympic gold in the women's pair competition.

The duo were part of the New Zealand team that finished fourth in women's eight at Rio 2016, and this time they bagged home a gold medal in six minutes and 50.19 seconds.

Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia finished 1.26 seconds behind to win the silver for the Russian Olympic Committee. Canada's world champions Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens, who beat the New Zealanders at the 2018 World Championship, had to settle for bronze in 6:52.10, despite leading the first 1,000m.

"We were aware of the expectation on us," said Gowler. "I think we put a lot of expectation on ourselves as well. We just know that once we line up, it's just us and we've trained for that."

"We just wanted to go out there and have the best race that we could, and we could be happy with that no matter what the expectation. We really appreciated all the support throughout this whole week, we just wish people could be here to celebrate with us."

Ireland's Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy rowed to gold in the lightweight men's double sculls.

The newly-crowned European champion pair finished in 6:06.43 seconds, edging Germany's Jonathan Rommelmann and Jason Osborne by 0.86 seconds. The bronze medal went to Italy, with Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta crossing the line in 6:14.30.

"There is a ceiling on how well and happy you can feel about this type of thing," said O'Donovan. "We try to be happy about the place all the time."

The Sinkovic brothers Valent and Martin of Croatia, double sculls champion at Rio 2016, led from beginning to end to win the men's pair, clocking 6:15.29 to take Croatia's second gold at Tokyo 2020. Romania took the silver in 6:16.58 and Denmark bagged the bronze in 6:19.88.

"The long-term plan is that we will be glad to row the four in Paris [2024] or in LA [2028]," said Martin Sinkovic.

Valent said that winning gold was as good as the pair's triumph in Rio five years ago.

"This feels pretty much the same. It's an unbelievable feeling, hard to describe. This is like a new gold medal for us because it's in a second discipline, so we celebrate it like it's the first one for us," Valent said. "We couldn't be happier. Everything went as planned, we executed the race perfectly."

Italy emerged as the winners of a fierce competition among four teams in the final sprint of the lightweight women's double sculls.

After several lead changes over the 2,000m distance, Federica Cesarini, two-time lightweight quadruple sculls world champion, and Valentina Rodini beat Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove of France by a just 0.14 seconds to win their first Olympic title in 6:47.54.

Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands edged their British counterparts Imogen Grant and Emily Craig by 0.01 seconds to finish third in 6:48.03.

Cesarini felt difficult to describe the felling of winning a gold medal. "We wanted it, we searched for it and finally we have it." Ednitem

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