Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Eton Dorney, Windsor
Date Started: July 30, 2012
Date Finished: August 3, 2012
Briton Katherine Grainger had Olympic silver medals in the quadruple sculls (2000 and 2008) and the coxless pair (2004) but, after partnering with [Anna Watkins] for the double sculls in 2010, she had never lost a race in the event. The 2012 Games, therefore, looked to be promising for her to finally win Olympic gold. The duo’s only real challenge would come from the Australian team of Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley. Crow and teammate Kerry Hore had come in second at the last two World Champions behind Britain and, although Hore decided to conserve her strength for the women’s quadruple sculls, Crow chose to take up the oars for both the single and double sculls and picked Pratley, the 2006 World Champion in double sculls, as her partner. The only other true contenders for a podium spot were Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk and Julia Michalska, who were World Champions in the event in 2009.
As expected, Great Britain and Australia had the two fastest times in the heats, guaranteeing an exciting final along Eton Downey. Thousands of British fans roared and cheered as Grainger and Watkins took an early lead, followed closely by Crow and Pratley. In the second half of the course, Britain broke away from their rivals and pulled out to a sizeable lead; by the 1500m mark, the duo was all but assured the gold medal while crowd and media commentators alike were on their feet, caught up in the rush of excitement. Australia never relented on their challenge and ended up with a respectable effort and a silver medal, nearly ten seconds ahead of Poland, the bronze medal finalists. Thus Grainger and Watkins captured only the second gold medal for British women’s rowing, the first having come earlier in the Games from Helen Glover and Heather Stanning in the coxless pairs.