20 NZ Olympic Moments: No. 13, Golden girls' double won in split second

By Dylan Cleaver

Herald sports writers Dylan Cleaver and David Leggat count down 20 Great New Zealand Olympic Moments.

It is normally the first gold that is remembered most fondly, but there was something awfully inevitable about Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell's victory in Athens.

Not so much Beijing.

From their position as unchallenged queens of the double scull in 2004, their mantle had slipped to the point where they went to China as medal prospects, but a long way from favourites.

"In Athens, we expected ourselves to get a gold but we just wanted to have a good race here [in Beijing]. To come away with a gold medal was a bit unbelievable," said Caroline, by four minutes the younger twin.

Unbelievable might be stretching it, but unexpected wouldn't. The twins had just endured their worst European world cup season. The campaign was marked by a fruitless search for the sort of form that had made them near unbeatable from 2001-2004, a loss of confidence that culminated in them failing to make the A final in the last world cup regatta in Poland.

They returned to their Lake Karapiro base chastened and piled on the kilometres in training in the hope of finding that spark.

Whether it was something technical or just an innate ability to rise to the big occasion, something clicked for the Evers-Swindells in their heat and it continued in the final.

Still, the field at the Shunyi course was a lot tougher than it had been in Athens and this one was so tight that the broadcasters initially called them home in the minor medals.

After an agonising wait, the scoreboard showed the twins had beaten the German double of Annekatrin Thiele and Christiane Huth by .01s, clocking 7m 07.32s.

National coach Dick Tonks believed the twins had another two Olympics in them if they wanted. For a man not naturally inclined to making any statements, let alone outrageous ones, it raised hopes that the twins might try to defend their title in London.

They had retired by the end of the year, with raising families taking precedence.

- NZ Herald

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