Gold for Reading rowing pair

Great Britain's Helen Glover and Heather Stanning celebrate winning gold in the women's pair final at Eton Dorney Lake, London. Credit: PA

Great Britain celebrated it first gold medal of the London Olympic Games after Helen Glover and Heather Stanning - who are based in Reading - stormed to victory in the final of the women's pair.

Glover and Stanning destroyed the field, winning by more than a length to make history at Eton Dorney as the first British female rowers to be crowned Olympic champions.

Australia pipped world champions New Zealand to win silver but neither crew was able to live with the blistering pace set by the British pair.

Glover and Stanning punched the air as they crossed the line and embraced in the boat after winning gold in sensational fashion at their first Olympic Games.

Victory for Glover and Stanning completed a remarkable unbeaten season for the British pair, who came into the Olympics as favourites after winning gold all three World Cup regattas.

That dominance was fuelled by the pain of being beaten into silver by New Zealand at the 2011 world championships by just eight hundredths of a second.

Glover and Stanning underlined their gold medal credentials by setting a new Olympic best time to win their heat on the opening day of the regatta, demolishing the previous mark by over four seconds.

Today, they were cheered on to gold medal glory by Princess Anne, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The British pair made a blistering start and they sprinted into a clear water lead over the Kiwis by the 500 metre time-check, an advantage they held through to half-way mark.

When Glover and Stanning hit the wall of sound generated by 26,000 supporters in the grandstands, they extended their lead to two lengths

Stanning told reporters: "I'm absolutely shattered and absolutely ecstatic all at the same time.

"I want to collapse but I'm just so overjoyed, I just want to jump around at the same time. I'm probably talking rubbish now."

She felt the race went exactly to plan.

"We could see from all the races we've done this season, we've got out ahead and stayed there and tried to push on the margin," she said. "That's exactly what we tried to do today."

"We wanted to keep the same margin we've had in all the World Cups."

Glover appeared to be smiling in the last quarter of the race, but she said: "It was probably a grimace. I don't remember smiling because I remember never ever ever thinking we've got this."

She added that she hoped the performance would inspire others.

"If I can do it, just take the chance - not just rowing, anything," she said. "If you work hard, and try your best absolutely anyone can do anything."

Australia and New Zealand closed the gap in the final quarter of the race but they were only battling for silver as Glover and Stanning cruised to the finish line - and their place in British and Olympic rowing history.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson told Press Association Sport: "It is an absolutely fantastic result. First home gold and the first ever female rowing gold medal, so two pieces of Olympic history and a really great race.

Asked if it was the start of a British gold rush, he said: "I hope so."

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Helen Glover and Heather Stanning's historic triumph will be celebrated throughout the country today.

"Not only have they achieved the first gold medal for Great Britain at London's Games, they have bagged the first ever rowing medal for Team GB's women at an Olympic Games.

"It's an outstanding achievement and I'm sure it will spur on all our athletes in the medal stakes. It's fantastic - Go Team GB!"