Eric Murray and Hamish Bond celebrate winning gold.
Eric Murray and Hamish Bond celebrate winning gold. Getty Images Sport - Harry How

NZ win gold, go above Aussies

CHAMPION rowing pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray smashed through their final frontier, winning the only prize to have eluded them.

In front of the packed stands and their ecstatic supporters, Bond and Murray crossed the line in 6m 16.65s to claim Olympic gold.

Murray raised his right fist; Bond slapped Dorney Lake in delight before lying back into the lap of his partner in greatness.

Five seconds behind came the French crew of Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette, closely followed by George Nash and William Satch of Great Britain.

Even a windswept course and a late change of lanes, from four to the more sheltered six, could not put them off their mission.

On the start line Bond looked relaxed and focused, Murray slightly more edgy and pumped up, as befits their personalities. When they left the boat they looked like they had been for a training row.

The passed through the 500m in second, just .3s behind the fast-starting French. By the 750m they had moved in front and that is where they stayed. At the halfway mark they were 1.5s ahead and they stopped making a contest of it in the third quarter, crossing 5.2s ahead at the 1500m.

Bond and Murray brought home the 19th Olympic rowing medal for New Zealand and the eighth gold. It was New Zealand's fourth medal of these Games and the second gold after Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen's heroics on Downey Lake on Thursday.

It was also the most anticipated, but that does not make it any less special. Favouritism can weigh heavily on weaker shoulders.

As part of a world champion four at the last Olympics, Bond and Murray left Beijing disillusioned after their boat failed to make the 'A' final.

When that four disbanded, Bond and Murray went straight into the pair. It is tempting to use the old cliche that they have never looked back, but that is exactly what they do best when they're propelling a boat 2kms up a lake.

Their record of success over the past four years is astonishing and possibly unprecedented. Not once has a boat crossed a finishing line in front of theirs. Even the All Blacks lose from time to time.

Potential rivalries have been invented but the simple truth is that they are peerless.

Bond and Murray carried themselves like a team that knew that if they concentrated on doing what they did well, they would be impossible to beat.

Coached by Richard Tonks, the now legendary mentor has a very simple philosophy: keep doing the stuff that makes the boat go fast, strip away all the extraneous stuff.

There would have been no big pre-race pep talk, just a simple message to go out and do what they've always done.

Which they did. With aplomb.

They might not share a lot in common off the water, but Bond and Murray now have an unbreakable link as they enter New Zealand sporting folklore.

We already knew they were a bit special, somewhere beyond brilliant. The gold medals they now have in their possession are just the baubles that confirm it.

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