Successive world records tumbled in the dramatic women's pair semifinals as New Zealand's Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast emphasised their gold medal favouritism by blitzing the field to storm into Thursday's final.
In the first semifinal, boosted by the presence of a strong tailwind, unheralded Greek pair Maria Kyriacou and Christina Bourbou laid down the gauntlet by breaking Gowler and Prendergast's previous world record (6:49.08) in a time of 6.48.70.
Assuming that challenge, Gowler and Prendergast charged out to lead from start to finish in their second semifinal. Winning by two lengths, they regained their world record by finishing in 6.47.41. Russia was 2.8 seconds back in second, with Spain third.
Great Britian and Canada progressed alongside the commanding Greek pair from their semifinal.
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Having missed out on a spot in the New Zealand women's pair boat to Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent, who claimed silver in Rio five years ago, Gowler and Prendergast are clearly motivated to clinch gold in Tokyo.
They will now race for gold on successive days from Thursday, with the pair's final at 12.30pm followed by the women's eight final on Friday.
Gowler and Prendergast, the reigning world champions, have been a constant force for the past six years by claiming seven world championship medals that includes silver in 2018 and 2015, and gold in 2017. They now have the chance to confirm their elite status as Olympic champions.
The duo contested two heats – the pair and eight – within three hours on Saturday and had no trouble progressing to both finals.
As part of the eight boat, Gowler and Prendergast finished fourth in Rio and are now seeking to claim two medals in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, the men's eight, featuring two-time Olympics gold medallist Hamish Bond, qualified for Friday's final after winning the repechage.
They came from behind to power home ahead of Britain, USA and Australia.