Mighty Kiwi pair huge favourites for gold medal

MARC HINTON IN LONDON
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2012
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
BOND, MURRAY AND MAHE: Not since 1960 have we had two Olympic athletes win gold within an hour of each other.

London 2012: Daily Wrap day six

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They're ruthless buggers, this remarkable Kiwi rowing pair, and at the end of tonight's penultimate finals session at Dorney Lake they'll also be Olympic champions.

There is simply no alternative ponderable, both within the tight-knit New Zealand rowing squad, and in fact among the thousands who have thronged this purpose-built lake throughout this regatta.

Eric Murray and Hamish Bond have quite simply been so dominant, so efficient and so bloody impressive, that every man and their Irish setter out here knows that their race - on what could be a special night for New Zealand rowing - is only for the minor medals.

The thing is Murray and Bond, who have never lost a race since forming as a pair in the wake of the 2008 Beijing Games, know this too. They hold such a psychological grip on the field here that their rivals are all but beaten before they start.

And when, around the 500m mark, these rowing machines make their initial move, it's hard to imagine anyone having the ability, or stickability, to go with them. They sliced the world's best time to kingdom come in their heat, destroyed the semifinal field with contemptuous ease and are now ready to finish the deal, at 10.50pm tonight (NZ time).

Murray, the big, rugged, mutton-chopped bow man, offered an insight into their mentality when he was asked after the semifinal whether winning ever got boring.

“Hell no,” he shot back with a grin.

“We find it's better to be in the position we are, because we know we can win, whereas all the other crews don't know they can beat us because they haven't beaten us in the past."

Bond, who provides the rhythm for this peerless pair in the stroke seat, indicated they remain focused on delivering the perfect race. Some are saying they did that in their heat, when they whacked six seconds off the world-best time, but Bond isn't so sure.

“We've never been beaten, so I guess you could say the limit of our capabilities is as yet untapped,” he said. “We just want to go out and express ourselves and try to put into action all the things we've done in the last four years.” The Brits, the Italians, the Aussies, the French and the Canadians will know deep down that their race tonight is for the silver.

Bond and Murray could set the scene for a historic night for Kiwi sport at Dorney Lake tonight. Mahe Drysdale, providing he can shake loose Czech Ondrej Synek, is a great chance to finish the night with a gold in the single sculls.

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Never before has New Zealand won two gold medals in rowing at one Olympics, let alone on one day, but if Drysdale keeps up his end of the bargain it shapes as a day to remember for the greatest Kiwi squad that's ever been put together.

Drysdale says he's ready to deliver the performance that many believe he needs to put the exclamation point on an outstanding career. “This is what I've been building for over four years and now I have to go out and execute the best I can,” he said. Synek shapes as the main threat, and Drysdale may need to deliver something special to see him off.

Don't discount it from a man who, when healthy, has always come up trumps on the big moments.

Double-scullers Fi Paterson and Anna Reymer will also take their place on a tantalising triple-bill for the Kiwis. The Brits and Australians are favoured to fight it out for gold, but a medal is not out of reach for the New Zealand double, who could add the icing to the greatest day in Kiwi rowing.

- Fairfax Media

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