'Yip' and a 'go' gets gold for Kiwi rowers
New Zealand's first gold medallists of these Olympics believe it was composure and belief that enabled them to unleash one of the great finishing sprints of rowing's rich history at these Games.
Invercargill's Nathan Cohen and Picton's Joseph Sullivan won the double sculls gold at Eton Dorney today as they mowed the field down over the final 500m, taking the New Zealand team's tally to a gold and two bronzes for the Games.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge for us to hold up in the first 1000. It wasn't quite following conditions and we're not the biggest guys," said Cohen. "For us it was about staying composed and getting into our boat.
"Joseph was ticking over a really good tempo and I was just sitting there following.
"It was feeling good. It was just a matter of keeping our composure and waiting for our moment. As soon as we felt people fading a little bit we just went together and Joe kept taking it up and I was just a passenger to the finish."
Cohen said their history of winning so many races from deep in the field gave them the faith and the patience to time their run to perfection at the end.
"That's nothing new for us. We do a lot of our racing from behind. Ideally we would have loved to have been out in front but that's what makes us fight so hard, because we've never had the privilege to be able to do it that way.
"We just had that toughness and belief in each other of never giving up because we've done it so many times. We just wanted to do the best for each other and the best for New Zealand we possibly could and that got us through to the finish."
Sullivan said he had no idea how the finish was unfolding because he was too busy playing his part in one of the great finishing bursts in Olympic history.
"I just kept my cool and Nathan kept telling me to be cool," he said.
"We had trained over and over and over and over for this moment, and we had gone through every race plan we could possibly go through. That helped us relax.
"Everyone had gone out and they had to pay for it somewhere and that last 500 was when they paid."
Sullivan described the moment when the Kiwis put their foot down on the accelerator. "At the 500 he (Cohen) made a 'yip' and a 'go' and that was it. We went for everything we had left. With 400 to go we had nothing left but we held on.
Cohen couldn't believe he was now an Olympic champion.
"It still doesn't sound right," he said. "We want to thank everyone back home.
"From Picton, from Invercargill, throughout New Zealand, so many people have helped us to get to this moment."
And from Picton to Invercargill, and everywhere else, we all now salute them.