Medal rush as Kiwis claim two golds, one silver

Gold medal winner Emma Twigg, of New Zealand (centre), is flanked by Team ROC's Hanna Prakatsen ...
Gold medal winner Emma Twigg, of New Zealand (centre), is flanked by Team ROC's Hanna Prakatsen (silver, L), and Austria's Magdalena Lobnig as they pose with their medals after the race. Photo: Getty
New Zealand have had a magic hour on the water at the Tokyo Games today, claiming two golds and a silver.

Singles sculler Emma Twigg started the medal rush with gold in her event before the women's eight bagged silver. The men's eight then stepped up to take gold in their event.

Finishing with a leading time of 5:24:64, the New Zealand men won by a third of a boat length, beating Germany and Great Britain who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In a thrilling race, the Kiwis started strong and took charge from the second 500m, holding off the Germans and Brits at the end.

Always a chance for a medal, few genuinely thought they would match the favoured Germans but New Zealand took control at the halfway mark, put distance on the field at the three-quarter pole and never looked like relinquishing the lead in the home straight.

Cue scenes of jubilation as the crew smashed the tranquil Sea Forest waterway with their fists, screamed in exultation and engaged in the sort of awkward hugs the confined spaces of a skiff allows for.

It is the first gold in the eight since Munich – forever remembered as the first time God Defend New Zealand had rung out over an Olympic tannoy – and the first medal in the discipline since Montreal in 1976.

The silver for the women’s eight meant a second medal in two days for Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast, who won gold in the women’s pair yesterday.

The Canada team in the end proved too good for the favoured New Zealand women's eight and took out the gold. 

Canada led the race from the start. The Kiwis looked like they were gaining ground about halfway through but couldn't quite peg them back. China made a late push but it wasn't enough to overtake the Kiwis and they took the bronze medal.

The medals today take New Zealand's count to seven - three golds, three silvers and a bronze - at this year's games, and vaulted the Kiwi contingent up the table to 11th immediately following the men's race.

The New Zealand women's eight Ella Greenslade, Emma Dyke, Lucy Spoors, Kelsey Bevan, Grace...
The New Zealand women's eight Ella Greenslade, Emma Dyke, Lucy Spoors, Kelsey Bevan, Grace Prendergast, Kerri Gowler, Beth Ross, Jackie Gowler and Caleb Shepherd compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Getty Images

Earlier Twigg smashed the Olympic record to claim gold for New Zealand.

After a commanding performance in her semifinal yesterday, Twigg led pretty much from the start and eased to victory over the Russian Olympic Committee's Hanna Prakatsen and Austria's Magdalena Lobnig. 

Twigg won in an Olympic best time of 7m 13.97s, blitzing the field. Prakatsen took silver in 7m 17.39 and Lobnig 7m 19.72s.

Twigg held a small lead at 500m, and turned that into a commanding one at the halfway mark.

Prakatsen overcame a slow start to move through the field but was unable to chase Twigg down with her trademark strong finish. 

Lost for words

Twigg was in disbelief following her win.

"I can't believe it. Crossing the line I was in disbelief.

Emma Twigg in action at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Getty
Emma Twigg in action at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Getty

"I didn't actually hear the hooter but I'm just lost for words. So many disappointments over the years but I need to thank my team. Just lost for words.

"I think it's going to take some time to sink in. I feel like this is fate. It's an amazing feeling.

"I felt pretty comfortable and knew my times were good through early rounds. It's going to be a pretty special day.

"To my beautiful wife, I'm a very lucky girl. It's a dream come true."

In her fourth A final at an Olympics, Twigg, 34, now has sixth, fourth, fourth and this victory beside her name. 

The men's eight are set to follow soon after the women's eight.

 - ODT Online and NZ Herald



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