British crews strike double gold at World Rowing
OLYMPIC champions Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase produced a dominant performance to claim gold at the World Rowing Championships on New Zealand's Lake Karapiro.
IMPRESSIVE: Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase won their men's pair heat with ease at the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand (Getty Images)
The lightweight double scull partnership, who took last year out to recharge their batteries following Beijing, underlined why they will be ones to beat ahead of London 2012 as reigning world champions Storm Uru and Peter Taylor settled for bronze on home water, just behind Italy's Bertini Lorenzo and Elia Luini.
But they were all clear water behind the impressive Hunter and Purchase, who finished over two and a half seconds ahead of their nearest rivals in 7.13.47.
"We went out there and did our thing and came back in with a gold medal. That's fantastic", said Hunter.
"It's good being back racing and winning. Champions win every round and even if it's rough you go out there and do your best.
"We proved in the semi that we were picking up where we left off in Beijing. All the work with our coach Darren Whiter and all the support staff, the weights in the gym and the hard work have paid off. We've really stepped on."
There was also gold for Britain's newly-reformed women's quadruple scull - Beth Rodford, Frances Houghton, Annabel Vernon and Debbie Flood - who made up an early deficit to overhaul reigning champions, the Ukraine, in 7.12.78.
"No-one does more than us, no-one trains on worse water than us. We just kept powering through and it felt good," said Vernon.
"It was really rough out there. We knew we were one of the most powerful crews so it was just a case of getting out there and getting on with it. We knew we had to get into a rhythm and use our power."
However, there was disappointment for Matt Langridge, Alex Gregory, Alex Partridge and Ric Egington, Britain's reigning world champions in the men's four.
They led for the early part of their final but were overhauled by a fast French crew and then rowed out of the medals in the charge for the line.
"We had a good start even though it was rough from the first stroke", admitted Langridge. "In the second half we couldn't make any headway or find any rhythm".
Elsewhere, Sophie Hosking and Hester Goodsell also missed out in the lightweight women's double scull, the men's quad came home fifth and the lightweight men's pair were sixth.
However, GB rowing performance director David Tanner was delighted with two gold medals from the first day of finals - especially as British crews won only one gold in Poznan last year.
"I felt the lightweight men's double are back and dominated the field even in those conditions," he said. "And what a huge step up for the women's quad who were so clever in their race, exhibiting their skill and discipline.
"I am so disappointed for the men's four. It's an even field and there was an advantage for the inside lane which just nudged us out of the medals in the race for the line."