Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler have won New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics.
On Friday, they’ll seek to win a second.
The New Zealand women’s pair rowers claimed gold in their A final on Thursday at the Sea Forest Waterway on Thursday, heading home the Russian Olympic Committee and Canada.
It was NZ’s fourth medal of the games to date after triathlete Hayden Wilde captured bronze on Monday, and women’s double scullers Brooke Donoghue and Hannah Osborne and the men’s rugby sevens team gained silver on Wednesday.
The New Zealanders trailed Canada for the first half of the 2000m race before moving to the front in the third quarter and staved off a surprise challenge from the ROC duo of Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia by 1.26s, winning in a time of six minutes 50.19s.
Asked for her initial reaction, Prendergast told Sky TV: “Honestly, I don’t really know at the moment.
“It’s such a whirlwind, such a dream, but I’m just so stoked, I’m just so happy.
Gowler said: “Same, I can’t believe it.I feel like we crossed the line and I just started yelling, ‘have we done it?’. But it’s amazing, I’m so glad we’ve done it.”
It was New Zealand’s first Olympic gold medal in the women’s pair and completed a full set after Lynley Hannen and Nikki Payne took bronze in 1988 in Seoul and Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown claimed silver in 2016 in Rio.
Pendergast and Gowler – dual world champions in 2019 – are also part of the NZ women’s eight which will contest their final on Friday afternoon (NZ time) as the duo seek a rare rowing double-gold return in Tokyo.
New Zealand women’s single sculler Emma Twigg will contest her semifinal at 1:50pm on Thursday as she continues her quest for a first Olympic medal at her fourth Games.