On the final day of the rowing competition at Eton Dorney Lake, outside of Windsor, the British team celebrated atop the podium with three medals in the four final races.
The first race was the Women's Single Sculls and after a devastating fourth place in the semifinals for U.S. rower Gevvie Stone, 27, she came with oars a-blazing on Saturday. Stone finished her Final B race (places 7-12) almost nine seconds faster than the gold medal winner Miroslava Knapkova from the Czech Republic, with a time of 7:45:24. "I kept pushing myself, I was rowing pretty efficiently, I think. I'll have to ask my dad, who is my coach, what he thinks. But it felt great," Stone said in an interview. "You never know how many chances you're going to get to row on an Olympic course and I wanted to make this one a good one."
In the men's lightweight double sculls, the race started off with the 2008 Beijing winning Great Britain team of Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase having a broken seat about 100m into the race. Thus, all the boats had to stop and Purchase fixed the seat with a screwdriver. The race was then restarted with Great Britain in the front, however, the Denmark team squeaked out a win and a gold. The New Zealand team took bronze.
Then came the races where Great Britain reigned supreme. The women's lightweight double sculls and the men's four. The women's team (Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland) took the gold in the double sculls with a time of 7:09:30 over second place China and third place Greece.
This is a great accomplishment since the team has only raced for a year, and the win received quite a surprise reaction from the women. In a recent interview, Copeland remarked: "I can't believe this is real, that we just won. We just won the Olympics! I've been trying all week not to think about it because it's made me cry every time."
Prior to that the men's four raced and the British team of Alex Gregory, Tom James, Pete Reed, and Andrew Triggs Hodge (no relation) helped win another gold for their team by inching the Australian team by less than two seconds, and the U.S. (Rummel, Cole, Ochal, and Gault) team taking third. Leading from the start and holding strong to their lead, the Brits never slowed down to the Aussies, whom were never more than a boat length away. "In the race today, I was waiting for it to go all wrong," Triggs Hodge said. "We all sacrificed so much to achieve this huge honor. To sit here as an Olympic champion in front of a home crowd - I am humbled by this one."
Britain coach Juergen Groebler said it all when explaining the competition over the last eight days, "It's the best ever Olympics for rowing. I think we should be honest with ourselves - it is a big, big result." With nine total medals - four golds, two silvers, and three bronzes - the British team set a new record for rowing medals. The last record of eight medals was set in 1908, ironically, in London.
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Ashley Hodge was a member on the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities Women's Rowing Team. After three months on the freshman team, she participated the next three years on the varsity team. For the majority of her rowing career, Ashley sat in seat seven, behind the stroke.
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