Martin Cross |

2012 Olympic men’s eight final: all out for Olympic gold

In our series celebrating some of the most dramatic Olympic finals since 2000, Martin Cross selects his top races, reliving the experience with athletes involved. In the fifth Olympic final of the series, he spotlights the men’s eights at London 2012, reflecting on the race with GB cox Phelan Hill and Martin Sauer, who coxed the famous Deutschland-Achter

The men’s eight was one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the 2012 Olympics. It did not disappoint. The rivalry between Britain and Germany, where the home crew surged ahead of the fast-starting Germans, created an unforgettable contest in the third 500m. For a time, at least, it looked as though the massive home crowd would get their wish and see the British eight beat the German favourites.

More than that, the contest between those two boats created openings for other crews, most notably Canada whose final surge took them to a remarkable silver, behind Germany. The other three eights from the USA, the Netherlands and Australia were all within 0.7 seconds of the bronze medal, which the British, who had thrown everything into that third quarter, clung on to by the skin of their teeth.

It was a race to remember. Recently Martin Sauer and Phelan Hill, the coxes of the German and British crews joined me to talk about that race and the events surrounding it. Sauer is coxing the German eight at the Tokyo Olympics, while Hill retired after coxing the British eight to a gold medal in the Rio Games.


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