Britain, the world’s top-ranked rowing nation, have surprisingly never won gold in a women’s event but they have been brimming with expectation of a breakthrough on the Olympic rowing course at Eton Dorney.Heather Stanning and Helen Glover are red-hot favourites to end the drought in the women’s pair, having dominated World Cup competition this year, winning all three races, before also setting a new Olympic best time in Saturday’s heat as they thrashed world champions New Zealand.
However an Aussie pair have other ideas. Four weeks ago, Sarah Tait went under the knife to prepare for the London Games. Australia’s team captain, Tait decided at the 11th hour to undergo wrist surgery to repair a forearm niggle and ensure she could cope with the expected choppy waters at Lake Dorney, and the move has paid off. She and her partner, Kate Hornsey, have endured a disrupted preparation due to injury, yet they were also convincing heat winners to loom as the hosts’ biggest obstacle to gold.
The pair only came together 11 months ago when Tait’s crewmate Phoebe Stanley suffered cardiac arrhythmia and missed the world titles in Slovenia. Despite the change, the Australians took bronze behind the Kiwis and Brits.
For Tait, Olympic success would be doubly sweet. She is coached by husband Bill and has just become the first Australian mother to row at the Games. Now at her third Olympics, Tait has had to endured her fair share of hardship after rowing with Sally Robbins in the infamous women’s eight in Athens and also finishing last in the eights final in Beijing.
Courtesy of A.S.P.I.R.E Olympic Newsletter