Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, Mapo, Shunyi
Date Started: August 9, 2008
Date Finished: August 16, 2008
In the men’s double sculls, Slovenia’s Luka Špik and Iztok Čop were the 2000 Olympic champions, the 2004 Olympic runners-up, the 1999, 2005, an 2007 World Champions, the 2006 World runners-up, and the 2007 winners of the Double Sculls Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta, all of which gave them a strong claim to the title at the 2008 Summer Olympics. They would not go unchallenged, however, as France’s Adrien Hardy was a 2004 Olympic champion, a 2003 and 2006 World Champion, a 2001 and 2007 World runner-up, and a 2002 winner of the Double Sculls Challenge Cup, and he brought 2006 World Champion and 2007 runner-up Jean-Baptiste Macquet with him to Beijing. The duos of Wes Piermarini and Elliot Hovey from the United States and Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham of Great Britain were the 2006 and 2008 winners of the Double Sculls Challenge Cup respectively, and the Britons were also the 2006 World bronze medalists.
It was the Australian duo of David Crawshay and Scott Brennan, however, who posted the fastest time in the opening round, defeating both France and Slovenia in the process. Great Britain and New Zealand, the latter represented by Nathan Cohen and 2000 Olympic single scull champion Rob Waddell (who had tried his hand at sailing after the 2000 Games and returned to Olympic rowing in 2008), won the other two heats. These five nations then all succeeded in qualifying for the medal round in the semi-finals and were joined by 2007 World bronze medalists Tõnu Endrekson and Jüri Jaanson, the latter of whom was the 2004 Olympic runner-up in the single sculls and was competing in his sixth and last Olympics at the age of 42. In the final, the Australians took the lead from the start and never relinquished, winning the gold medal with ease. Great Britain looked to be right behind, but a fantastic push from the Estonians in the final quarter of the race saw them steal silver by a margin of only 0.05 seconds, leaving the stunned Britons with bronze. France and Slovenia, meanwhile, had a surprisingly poor race and finished far back in fifth and sixth respectively.