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Rio medallists cruise, wait and strain

NZN 12/08/2016 Sean Martin

The golden men's pair crew of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond were able to cruise to the line.

Luuka Jones could only wait in her kayak at the bottom of the canoe slalom course to see if anyone could beat her time.

The men's team sprint could ask no more of themselves but ultimately came up 0.102 seconds short.

For Bond and Murray the win was their 69th consecutive as a rowing combination stretching back to 2009.

They were odds on to repeat their London success and managed to cruise the last 500m with victory in the bag but Bond post-race revealed the mental strain of trying to live up to his Olympic expectations.

"The way you live, pretty much every decision you make is 'how will this affect my rowing?" he told NZ Newswire.

"Whether you go for a walk in the morning. How late you go to bed. Every single decision has a caveat to it.

"It will be nice not to have that in the back of my mind for a little while."

Now, with the self-imposed burden lifted, he will take stock before deciding his next move.

Jones already knows her next move.

It's gearing up for another four-year Olympic cycle and a tilt at Tokyo in four years' time.

Her silver medal may have surprised some - but not teammate Mike Dawson who tipped it a day earlier.

A new whitewater centre in Wiri has recently opened, a crop of promising juniors are ready for the next step and Jones' success will only encourage more into the European-dominated sport.

For the cycling sprint trio of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster their silver medal was by the merest of margins. Gold was their aim but they brought everything to the table only to be denied by Great Britain on the day.

"We put our best foot forward and smashed it to come away with the best time we could possibly produce," said Dawkins.

Sometimes your best is just not good enough.

On the water of Guanabara Bay, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie put the disappointment of a first day disqualification behind them to claim a win and a fourth to move from 10th to first in the women's 470 and remain on course to defend their London gold.

But in the pool there was more heartache for Lauren Boyle who failed to reach the final of the 800m freestyle. She was silver medallist in the event at last year's world championships but her conditioning has been sapped by illness in the lead-up to Rio.

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