Hamish Bond and Eric Murray joined the ranks of New Zealand’s Olympic legends when they won successfully defended their men’s pair rowing title today.

Bond and Murray, unbeaten as a pair since forming eight years ago, won by 2.8s from Britons Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling, with the Italian crew third. It was New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Rio Olympics.

Conditions were tricky, with a blustery wind roughing up the water, and the New Zealanders were only third at the 500m point.

But once they pressed on the accelerator, they took control of the race. They were ahead by halfway and were never threatened.

Murray said they went hard through the middle stages because they wanted to establish a clear lead.

“I wanted to get some distance over the field in case something went wrong over the last 500 metres,” he said.

Bond and Murray were regarded as overwhelming favourites to win their second consecutive pairs gold medal. Bookmakers had them at odds of 1:33, which is phenomenal. Their win today was their 69th in succession.

But with a record like theirs came pressure.

“We’re ecstatic,” Murray said. “There was a lot of pressure and expectation. Fair game as we have not been beaten. We put pressure on ourselves.”

He said he and Bond were far prouder of what they had have done to get to this point than they were about the race itself.

“We’re thankful for all the support we received.”

Bond reflected the intense nature of the build-up when he said: “The last few months have been hard. I’m sick and tired.”

He said it wasn't perfect race but "we got going in the third 500 and it went from there".

Bond and Murray now certainly rank alongside some of the great names of rowing, such as Britons Matthew Pinsent and Steven Redgrave, and New Zealanders like Mahe Drysdale and the Evers-Swindell twins.

Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Hamish Bond Mahe Drysdale Eric Murray Rowing
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