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Britain dominates rowing event at Beijing Paralympics
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18:31, September 12, 2008

British rowers dominated the Beijing Paralympics by claiming two golds at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park on Thursday while China and Italy shared the remaining two golds.

Britain pulled off a gold double in the women's and men's single sculls.

Helene Raynsford made history by winning the first Paralympic Games gold medal ever awarded in the sport of rowing with a runaway 12-second edge over Luidmila Vauchok from Belarus and Laura Schwanger of the United States.

Reigning world champion Tom Aggar followed Raynsford's victory moments later by taking the men's single sculls.

"I was listening out at the start line, but I didn't hear the result of (Raynsford) as I was focusing more on my own race. It's a bit of a shame, maybe they could have swapped the order and put me on first," joked Aggar after claiming his gold.

In attempting to claim the gold medal, Aggar found himself in the unfamiliar position of having a determined rival on his stern for the entire journey, Ukraine's Oleksandr Petrenko.

Petrenko had a great regatta through the preliminary races and pushed Aggar all the way to claim the silver with a mere 3.94 seconds in arrears. Israel's Eli Nawi took the bronze.

"It was a great race, I was happy to be pushed all the way," said Aggar, who has compiled the Grand Slam, having won the world championships and the World Cup. "It's been an amazing experience to be here competing. I started rowing one year and a half ago, to make it here is indescribable."

"It's a long way off (from the London 2012), but I'll be sticking with rowing. I love rowing, I'm really passionate about it and I'll be looking forward to competing on home soil."

China's Tan Yeteng finished fourth, with American Ron Harvey and Australia's Dominic Moneypenny in fifth and sixth.

Home excitement then bubbled over when China held off a fast-finishing Australia to take the gold medal in the mixed double sculls.

Shan Zilong and Zhou Yangjing scored a hard-fought victory with only 0.89 seconds over Australia's Kathryn Ross and John Maclean, early leaders and eventual bronze medallists Josiane Lima and Elton Santana from Brazil 7.67 seconds further behind.

"Indeed, our rivals are very strong, especially the Brazilian and Australian teams," said Zhou. "They finished first and second in the world championships in 2007 and we were in the seventh place. And today's result has proved that we have the potential and the ability to compete with them."

Brazil started strongly, leading China and the rest of the field through the halfway mark by over two seconds, but that early pace seemed to take its toll as China noticeably lifted their stroke and work rates, an effort Brazil couldn't match.

As the tempo of the race increased, the Chinese pair maintained their rhythm and by the 750 meters mark had enough fuel in the tank to hold off a fast-charging and increasingly-threatening Australian combination over the closing stage.

Italy then took its turn to step onto the top of the podium after their quartet scoring a hugely impressive all-the-way win in the mixed coxed fours.


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1 China 34 40 28 102
2 Great Britain 30 18 15 63
3 USA 22 14 16 52
4 Australia 13 15 14 42
5 Ukraine 12 9 15 36
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