London 2012: Rowers Purchase & Hunter bullish about title defence

Great Britain's Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase are confident they can defend their Olympic title despite a series of setbacks in the build-up.

The British lightweight double scull duo won the first World Cup regatta of the season in Belgrade but finished sixth in Lucerne and Munich.

"The season hasn't gone to plan at all," Hunter told BBC Sport.

We're hopefully going to be sitting in the final knowing that, if we put the right race together, we're going to have a great result

Zac Purchase

"We raced hard in the heats and then didn't get back up to speed in finals but we've addressed those areas."

The pair were undoubtedly favourites for gold in London at the turn of the year having defended their World Championship crown in Slovenia last September following a season marred by injury.

They then led from start to finish in the first World Cup in Belgrade, one of four GB gold medal winning boats.

But they appeared to lack fitness in the final two races before the Games and now face a real battle to defend the title they won in Beijing.

"The summer has been tricky," said Purchase. "We've had ups and downs, but we've taken positives out of it.

"We had a great semi-final in last World Cup and that probably took a few more beans out of us than we expected. I'm looking forward to using our new fitness to keep improving.

Purchase and Hunter

Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase
  • Zac Purchase: Age 25, born in Cheltenham, rowing club - Marlow
  • Mark Hunter: Age 33, born in Forest Gate, rowing club - Leander
  • Olympics: Gold, Beijing 2008
  • World Championships: Gold, Bled, Slovenia - 2011; Gold, Lake Karapiro, NZ - 2010; Bronze, Munich, Germany - 2007

"We went to Beijing having won all 13 races races leading up to it. That hasn't happened this time but nothing changes for London. We go to the Games knowing we are potentially the best in the world and have a lot of speed to show.

"We're hopefully going to be sitting in the final knowing that, if we put the right race together, we're going to have a great result."

Hunter, who together with Purchase made history when they won the Britain's first Olympic lightweight gold medal four years ago, remains confident they have learned from their mistakes.

"We had some good performances and also some disappointing results, but you learn more from your losses than your wins," he said.

"We've had long enough between the last World Cup and the Olympics to put things in place to go out and execute a solid race plan each race, all through the rounds.

"We've had a different winner in every World Cup but when you sit on start line, history is forgotten about. It's about that race. I suppose that's what special about the Olympics - you have to deliver on that day."