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Great Britain win men's four gold

ESPN staff
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Eton Dorney was lit up by the GB men's four © Getty Images
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Great Britain capped a stunning rowing competition by taking the men's four, the blue riband event of the Olympics rowing regatta.

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It was billed as an Ashes battle between GB and Australia and the home quartet of Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge produced a stunning effort to defend the title.

GB, who threw down a marker by beating Australia in the semi-finals, went out strong and were never headed at any stage as they claimed a brilliant win at Eton Dorney.

Australia have had an ordinary Games so far, given the billing they were given ahead of London 2012, and it continued as their quartet had no answers to the power of Gregory, Reed, James and Triggs Hodge.

Britain led from the gun, but it was a controlled row and they gradually built the tempo. Australia went with them, with the USA crew well back in third, and they were never more than a boat length away.

The Australians called for a surge in the final 500m, as Drew Ginn looked to take his fourth Olympic gold, but they made absolutely no impression as GB crossed the line a half-length ahead in a time of 6:03.97.

"What I felt down there was impeccable rowing," Triggs-Hodge said. "It was our masterpiece. Four years we have worked on that."

Gregory added: "It was just simple. It didn't feel real. We just did the race and I was just counting strokes. I didn't look across but I was aware we were in front."

In the following race, GB pair Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking went into the history books by becoming the first Brits to win gold in the women's lightweight double sculls.

They had looked awesome through qualifying and carried that into the final as they went out hard, dominated the race and held on supremely well to claim a brilliant gold.

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter narrowly missed on a third GB gold of the day in the rowing, as they were overhauled late on by Denmark. There was drama at the start as a mechanical problem in the British boat led to a restart. Purchase and Hunter started superbly and led for virtually all of the race, only to be hauled in late on by the Danish pair and had to settle for silver.

Purchase and Hunter gave everything and it proved too much for the latter who after the pair spent some time on the water in reflection had to be helped out of the boat by Sir Steve Redgrave.

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