A trademark late burst from Invercargill’s Nathan Cohen and Picton’s Joseph Sullivan saw them win New Zealand’s first gold of London 2012 in the men’s double sculls.
The pair were only fifth at the 1000m halfway mark, but the two-time world champions picked off their rivals, finishing over a second ahead of silver medalists Italy.
It is New Zealand’s seventh ever rowing gold medal, and comes a day after Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown won bronze in the women’s pair.
Cohen and Sullivan said it was composure and belief that saw them home.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge for us to hold up in the first 1000,” Cohen told Fairfax NZ
“It wasn’t quite following conditions and we’re not the biggest guys. 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.”
They have a history of leaving their winning charges late, and so it proved at Dorney Lake on the biggest stage of all.
“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 end of the race was unfolding as he was too busy concentrating on the job at hand.
“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.”
He described the moment when they made their move.
“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.”
IMAGE: Ann Woolliams via Wikimedia Commons