Rowers Prendergast, Gowler win NZ's first gold at Tokyo Olympics

Source: 1News

Kiwi rowers Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler have won New Zealand's first gold medal of this year's Olympics in the women's pair final in Tokyo this afternoon.

The New Zealand boat started well in the final, sitting second after Canada made an early push to take the lead by 0.92 seconds at the 500-metre mark.

Canada continued their brilliant start through the next quarter, keeping the Kiwis at bay as they reached the halfway mark.

The lead had shrunk though, down to 0.41 seconds with 1000 metres to go.

Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand celebrate winning the gold medal during the Women's Pair Final A at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The world-renowned third 500m from the New Zealanders shined through though, as Prendergast and Gowler went up a gear to pass the Canadians and establish a 0.79 second lead with 500m to go.

The Canadians began to fade in the final 500m as a new challenger emerged in the Russian Olympic Committee boat but Prendergast and Gowler kept their stride and looked composed throughout.

The New Zealand boat eventually crossed the line in a time of 6:50.19 and while it was three seconds slower than their world-best time they set yesterday in the semi-finals, today’s result means much more.

ROC finished second, 1.26 seconds behind Gowler and Prendergast while the Canadians held on for third.

Gowler told Sky Sport after the race she was unsure if they'd won gold at the finish line.

"We crossed and I was like, 'Was someone ahead of us?'" she said.

"Honestly, i can't believe it."

Prendergast admitted the moment was still hitting her after the pair had spent so long focusing on rowing their race and ignoring outside noise.

"We can't control anyone else so we got our heads down and got going."

The pair sent a message to loved ones back home, unable to be with them in Tokyo due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We can't wait to get home and celebrate with you."

New Zealand’s rowers will hope to ride the momentum set by the women’s pair with both single sculls boats in the water later this afternoon in their semi-finals.

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