New Zealand's ace rowing pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray aren't about to start turning cartwheels at news their toughest Olympic rivals have dropped out of the event.
Since teaming up in the pair in 2009, Bond and Murray have been unstoppable, and unbeaten through three world championships and a raft of World Cup regattas.
Always on their heels have been Britons Peter Reed and Andy Triggs Hodge, but they've never been able to get their noses in front at the finish line through 14 meetings over that period.
However, British coach Jurgen Grobler has replaced two of the men who won the world title in the four last year, Matt Langridge and Ric Edington, with Reed and Triggs Hodge for London in August. The four is a blue riband event for the British, who have won the last three gold medals in the class.
Grobler has cut his losses, making it clear that consolidating a genuine gold medal chance takes priority over an outside chance in the pair.
"We have to defend what we have won," Grobler said.
Reed said he had faith in Grobler's selections and "I just want to be in the top boat and have the best chance of a gold medal".
However, Bond said yesterday it would remain business as usual for the New Zealand pair.
"We've got to be mindful in Olympic years strange things can happen," Bond said yesterday.
He and Bond were in the world champion four in 2007 only to miss the A final completely at Beijing the following year.
"There's still plenty of strong opposition," he said.
"The Italians are getting better, the Greeks are strong, the Canadians who won the silver in the pair in 2008 had their first year back last year and I'm sure they'll improve."
Complacency won't be an issue, Bond pointing to the competitive environment in which the New Zealand elite crews train, and as he put it "mugs don't turn up at the Olympics".
"We can only influence [our] own boat speed. We've shown we've got the speed, but we have got to be on our game."By David Leggat Email David