Rowing pair win GB's first gold medal of 2012 Olympics

Great Britain's Helen Glover (right) and Heather Stanning celebrate their win Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning have won Great Britain's first gold medal of the London 2012 Olympic Games in the women's rowing pairs.

The pair dominated the competition maintaining clear water between their closest competitors throughout the race at Eton Dorney.The home favourites were the crew to beat, having dominated the boat class all summer with victories at all three World Cup regattas.

Great Britain has never before won a gold medal in Olympic women's rowing.

The achievement moved Great Britain up to 13 in the medals table.

Plaudits rolled in for Great Britain's "golden girls" from all quarters:

The enormity of their achievement is underlined by the fact that both women only started rowing around four years ago.

26-year-old Helen Glover is a former PE teacher from Penzance in Cornwall. She started rowing through the Sporting Giants scheme, which was set up by UK Sport to identify British sporting talent.

27-year-old Heather Stannin from Lossiemouth, Moray in Scotland is a captain in the Royal Artillery.

Great Britain's Helen Glover (centre left) and Heather Stanning (centre right) celebrate. Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Family, friends and colleagues of Britain's first gold medallists of the 2012 Games have spoken of their pride in the Olympic champions.

Glover's mother Rachel added: "It's been a very meteoric, rapid rise and a fast learning curve both for her and for us. We're still trying to get to grips with all the ins and outs of rowing."

Glover's father Jim said the pair "deserve the success they've got", saying he was relieved when they crossed the line first.

"She is very much a newcomer, she's still a novice at rowing."

The rowers won Great Britain's women's first ever gold medal. Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Great Britain's men's eight in action. Credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire

Great Britain's men's team also won a bronze medal in the eights rowing event, narrowly losing out to Germany and Canada.

Greg Searle, who came out of retirement to row in the London 2012 Games and already has two Olympic gold medals to his name, said his "dream didn't come completely true".

The British women's quad of Melanie Wilson, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton and Beth Rodford finished sixth in the final of the women's quad rowing.