Kim Brennan has won a gold medal in the women’s single sculls to break Australia’s eight-year drought at Olympic level at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. It gave Australia its second ever women’s Olympic rowing gold medal. The 31-year-old veteran led the race from start to finish from lane three, holding off fellow favourites Jingli Duan of China and Emma Twigg of New Zealand.
Brennan had claimed bronze in the same event at the London 2012 Games, starting strongly to establish an early lead and never relinquishing it. It is the first time an Australian woman has won an Olympic rowing gold medal since 1996, when Kate Allen (nee Slatter) and Megan Marcks (nee Still) won gold at the Atlanta Olympic Games.
“It’s one of those things that your do so much visualisation and you imagine that moment so many times, but just crossing the line, I couldn’t work out whether that was actually it or whether that was my imagination. Again, I can’t really believe it,” said Brennan. She paid tribute to her coach Lyall McCarthy and said that the time he’d devoted to Brennan’s campaign “can’t put into numbers.”
One of Brennan’s primary concerns after the race was not her medal but the wherabouts of her dog Ernie, who was with Brennan’s husband, 2008 Olympic gold medallist Scott. “Scott said he was very proud of me,” said Brennan, “but I wanted to see how Ernie was doing but he wasn’t too interested in watching my race, he wanted the attention to himself.
With a bronze medal in the women’s Keirin in Rio, Anna Meares has become Australia’s most decorated cyclist at Olympic medal by pushing her career tally to six medals.
Finishing behind Dutch gold medalist Elis Ligtlee and Great Britain’s Rebecca James, Meares also became the only woman to have claimed medals in all four sprint events – the keirin, sprint, team sprint and 500m time trial. Meares now has two gold, one silver and three bronze from her four Olympic campaigns stretching back to Athens 2004.
“I knew it was going to be a really, really, really hard final,” Meares said afterwards. “The girls are very strong, very fast and it’s been a big shift from the Olympics in London to the Olympics now. My coach (Gary West) asked me earlier what were my goals for this meet and that’s two of the boxes checked right there: place better than I did in London in kierin and win a medal.”
Having lead the field after the second round of the inaugral golf competition, Australia’s Marcus Fraser finished the third day one over for an overall score of nine under, which places him third behind Team GB’s Justin Rose and Swede Henrik Stenson.
Australia’s women’s water polo team won a tough final pool encounter against Brazil, overcoming a rusty start to take the game 10-3 and advance to a quarter-final against Hungary. The Opals basketballers needed a similar comeback, overturning a 13-point deficit against Belarus to clinch a 74-66 win as Liz Cambage put up 17 points. The win sets up a knockout quarter-final against Serbia.
In sailing, Australia’s Tom Burton has guaranteed he will win a medal by overcoming a shaky start to build enough points to progress to Monday’s double-point medal race in the Laser event.