Olympics rowing: Hunter & Purchase beaten to sculls title

Great Britain's Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase claimed a silver medal in a dramatic lightweight double sculls final as Denmark pipped them to gold.

The race was stopped when Purchase's seat broke but the pair were allowed to restart as it happened within 100m.

Sir Steve Redgrave helps Mark Hunter to his feet

The Britons, who finished sixth in the last two World Cups, then took an early lead as they soon found their rhythm.

But they ran out of steam in the final 250m as Denmark came through them, with New Zealand taking bronze.

The silver brings Britain's rowing medal haul to nine - four golds, two silvers and three bronze medals - surpassing the eight won at the first London Games in 1908 and making this regatta the team's most successful ever.

Britain's build-up to this event has been disrupted by injury and illness to Purchase.

Although the pair won the first World Cup in Belgrade, sixth places in Lucerne and Munich raised questions over whether they could defend the title they won in Beijing.

Hunter, who was helped to his feet by Sir Steve Redgrave after the race before falling into the arms of Purchase, told BBC Sport: "We gave everything, we tried everything, we wanted to win so badly.

2012 rowing medals table

  • 1 Great Britain - 9 (four gold, two silver, three bronze)
  • 2 New Zealand - 5 (three gold, two bronze
  • 3 Germany - 3 (two gold, one silver)
  • 4 Denmark - 3 (one gold, one silver, one bronze)
  • 5 Czech Republic - 2 (one gold, one silver)

"We weren't fazed by the restart. We're very good at dealing with things like that and it didn't affect the outcome of the race. These guys [the Danes] were just better.

"Losing our Olympic title hurt tremendously. The nation has been incredible in their support and we just feel we let everyone down by not winning.

Purchase, who broke down in tears after the race, said: "It's been a pretty emotional season. We've had ups and downs, but fair play to Denmark. We did our best. Even though it's silver, it still hurts because we came for gold."

A stunning victory in the heats, in which they rowed away from Kiwis Storm Uru and Peter Taylor, had sent out a message of intent.

Their semi-final was less impressive, but they held off a charge from France to win in the second fastest time behind Denmark pair Rasmus Quist and Mads Rasmussen.

In the final, Britain made a brilliant start before Purchase's seat broke, forcing the drama of a restart.

Drama at start of sculls final as race is restarted

Rules say the race can be stopped if breakages occur within the first 100m, so the rest of the field returned to the start while Purchase used a screwdriver to put the seat back in place.

After a delay of less than 10 minutes, the race restarted with the defending champions again going out strongly and establishing a lead, but with the New Zealand and Danish duos - the latter runners-up to the Britons in Beijing - staying close.

A remarkable victory looked on the cards at 250m to go as New Zealand began to fade from contention, but Denmark upped the stroke rate and pushed through the British boat to pip their conquerors from Beijing in the final few metres.

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