Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, Mapo, Shunyi
Date Started: August 10, 2008
Date Finished: August 17, 2008
Poland, the reigning Olympic champion and 2005 World bronze medalist, did not take part in the men’s lightweight double sculls at the 2008 Summer Olympics, leaving the Danish duo of Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist as the favorites in the event. This pair had won the last two editions of the World Championships, been runner-up in 2005, and come in fourth at the 2004 Olympics. No other nation had won more than one medal in the event at the last three World Championships, although the 2005 winners, Zsolt Hirling and [Tamás Varga] of Hungary, became European Champions when the tournament was resurrected in 2007. The Greek pair of Dimitris Mougios and Vasilios Polymeros, the latter of whom was a bronze medalist from the 2004 Games, were the reigning runners-up at both the Worlds and the Europeans, while Eider Batista and Yunior Pérez of Cuba had won the most recent edition of the Pan American Games. The British duo of Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, however, could not be ignored: after taking bronze at the 2007 World Championships, they were undefeated in World Cup races and also championed as favorites in Beijing.
Denmark won its heat in the opening round, defeating Hungary in the process, while the other three heats were won by the Britons, who posted the fastest time, New Zealanders Storm Uru and Peter Taylor, and Italians Marcello Miani and Elia Luini, the latter of whom was a 2000 Olympic runner-up and both of whom were 2006 World runners-up. Greece came in second in the British heat and, while Cuba survived the repêchage after being fourth in Italy’s heat, Hungary did not. The New Zealanders were eliminated in the semi-finals in favor of the Chinese crew of Zhang Guolin and Sun Jie, but all of the other strong performers survived to the medal round. In the final, the medals were more or less decided by the halfway mark, with Great Britain in front, Greece behind them, and Denmark in third all the way to the finish line, with a comfortable margin between each.