28 August 2021

Double gold as ParalympicsGB rowers finish regatta in style

ParalympicsGB dominated on the water, winning two gold medals on the final day of the Tokyo 2020 rowing regatta.

Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley expertly defended their mixed double sculls title, while the mixed coxed four made it three in a row for Great Britain in that discipline.

Earlier in the day, Benjamin Pritchard came home in fifth in the final of the men’s single sculls.

Rowles and Whiteley went into the PR2 mixed double sculls with the mission of maintaining their triple crown of World, European and Paralympic titles and did just that, finishing almost five seconds ahead of their nearest rivals.

Laurence Whiteley was given the perfect birthday present with a Paralympic gold medal

The Chinese pair of Shuang Liu and Jijian Jiang started fast but the British duo were unperturbed, soon overhauling their lead and firing ahead.

The defending champions crossed the finish line in a time of 8:38.99 to become the first pair to defend a Paralympic doubles sculls crown, with the Netherlands overtaking the wayward Chinese to claim silver.

Birthday boy Whiteley, having turned 30 on the day of the final, said: “We want to set out to leave a legacy. I think that’s where we are.

“The medals are one thing but going down in the history books and being remembered as a fantastic combination is something else and we’re writing that story today.

“But first of all, it’s time away, a break, a holiday and then come back - and if Paris is on the cards it’s because we’re both there ready for it.”

As Whiteley and Rowles became the first to defend their title, the PR3 mixed coxed four extended ParalympicsGB’s hold on the gold, albeit with a new-look boat.

Ellen Buttrick, Ollie Stanhope, Giedre Rakauskaite, with cox Erin Kennedy, claimed their first Paralympic medals when they finished in a time of 7:09.08, with James Fox earning his second in a row.

ParalympicsGB won the PR3 mixed coxed four title for the third Games in a row

The USA team had to settle for silver for the second straight Games, coming in 11 seconds down and saw GB extend a remarkable streak – last losing a major final in the discipline at the 2010 World Championships.

Double Paralympic champion Fox said: “That’s 11 years unbeaten now. We are incredibly tough on ourselves, we are always pushing the standards, complacency is not an option for us.

“We are tough on ourselves and we’re always pushing the pace, it’s why we can go out there and do races like that.

“I am so happy to be a part of that, we have got on a roll with the Paralympic four, starting in 2010 and this goes out to all our ancestors I guess, the guys who have won since 2010.

“We are talking London Paralympics, we are talking Rio and now we are carrying it on. Long may it last.”

In the PR1 men’s single sculls final, Benjamin Pritchard was not able to repeat his Paralympic best performance from yesterday’s repechage as he finished in 10:06.95, over 50 seconds off his record time, albeit in very different conditions.

Defending champion Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine secured back-to-back titles finishing 12 seconds ahead of Australian Erik Horrie with Brazil’s Rene Campos Pereira taking the bronze.

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