Drysdale, men's pair cruise into rowing finals
New Zealand's all conquering men's rowing pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and single sculler Mahe Drysdale have cruised into the finals of their respective events with dominating semifinal performances at Eton Dorney.
Bond and Murray - hot favourites for the gold medal - led from start to finish in their semifinal, streeting their rivals by three boat lengths in a surprisingly slow time of 6mins 48sec.
Three days earlier Bond and Murray had set a world record of 6min 08.50s but this time they just cruised along in front with Italy and Canada three boat lengths back.
Meanwhile, Drysdale, seeking the elusive Olympic gold to go with his five world titles, made short work of his semifinal, outduelling the Swede, Lassi Karonen, and German Marcel Hacker to cruise home in a comfortable time of 7min 18.11s.
The Swede was more than a second and a-half behind Drysdale, while Hacker was a length or so back in third place, with all three comfortably through to Friday’s final.
It was an impressive performance by the big Cambridge-based Aucklander who was content to let the Swede make the early running, but slipped by him over the third quarter of the race and made a major statement about his credentials for the gold that will complete one of the great rowing careers.
Drysdale’s form was solid throughout a race he always had in control, and he looks in excellent physical condition – a marked contrast to his state in Beijing four years ago.
Drysdale's chief rival, Czech Ondrej Synek won the other semi in a slightly quicker time of 7:16.
There was no such luck for the New Zealand men's quad scull as they missed out on a spot in the Olympic final after a battling semifinal effort.
The quad of John Storey, Michael Arms, Matthew Trott and Robert Manson finished fourth in a semifinal dominated by the red-hot Croatian crew, and will have to make do with a spot in the B final later in the programme.
The New Zealanders could never get themselves into the top-three equation, sititng well back in the field through the first half, and still fifth with 500m to go.
They pushed up to fourth over the final sprint, but finished more than five seconds behind the Great Britain crew in third.
Fastest qualifiers Croatia, who have been in sizzling form this year, dominated the semi, overtaking early pacesetters Russia at the halfway mark and cruising to victory in smart 6min 03.39s. The Kiwis logged 6:10.95.