1 Aug 2012

Britain’s first gold from female rowers

Olympic rowing pair Heather Stanning and Helen Glover win Team GB’s first gold medal – and put female rowers at the top of the Olympic podium for the first time in history.

Glover and Stanning complete their final (Getty)

Heather Stanning and Helen Glover dominated the race from the start and never looked under threat.

Germany took the early lead in the race with Great Britain in second, but quickly lost their advantage. After the first quarter they were 2.8 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor.

Half way through the pair were three and a half seconds ahead of the rest of the field, with New Zealand in pursuit. They pushed harder, expanding their lead over the field.

They were four lengths clear in the final stages of the race and won ahead of Australia in second and New Zealand in third. Stanning and Glover pumped their fists in the air as they finished the race and waved to the crowd whose roars by this stage were deafening.

In the 12:30 men’s eights race Britain pushed World Champion’s Germany hard in pursuit of a medal. In silver medal position for the majority of the race, Team GB slipped back to finish with a bronze.Germany took gold. Team GB’s women’s quadruple sculls team finished bottom in their final.

An unusual pairing

Stanning and Glover set their stalls out early at this year’s London 2012 Games, breaking the Olympic record set at the Barcelona Games by more than four seconds.

The pair have won all three gold medals at the World Cups this season and have been unbeaten since finishing in silver place behind New Zealand last year.

Team GB’s first gold-medal winning female rowers have taken differing routes into the sport. Helen Glover had not been near a boat four years ago. Whilst studying to be a teacher, and at her mother’s behest, Glover applied for UK Sport’s Sporting Giants scheme – a programme to find future Olympic stars based on height.

The criteria were that men who apply for the scheme be over 6ft 3in tall and the women be more than 5ft 11in.

Glover, at 5ft 11 in tall, was accepted into the scheme and started her rowing career in 2008, whilst also working as a PE teacher in Bath. The next year she won gold in the Henley Women’s Regatta in the senior single scull event.

Her partner Stanning is a captain in the Royal Artillery. She started rowing in 2006 through GB Rowing Team’s Start Programme, and won gold with fellow rower Olivia Whitlam in the women’s pair at the World Under-23 Championships.

She was commissioned from Sandhurst in 2008 but has been released from Army duties in order to train full-time.

Both rowers come from the South West of England with Glover from Truro, Cornwall, and Stanning born in Yeovil, Somerset.

Other teams have qualified for rowing finals today including Team GB’s men’s pair of George Nash and Will Satch, finished first in the semi-final, and the men’s quadruple sculls, who finished third, and Alan Campbell, who finished in the men’s single sculls.