Record-breaking pair, Bond and Murray stay grounded
Sun, 29 Jul 2012 8:11a.m.
Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are keeping celebrations to a minimum after their intimidating performance on the opening day of the Olympic rowing regatta.
"There are no medals for heats," Bond said.
The partnership confirmed their status as hot favourites for gold by shattering the world's best time for the men's pair at Eton Dorney in Buckinghamshire, west of London.
Added by a tail wind, the New Zealanders clocked a slick 6min 08.50sec over the 2000m distance in winning their heat by clear water on Saturday.
They chopped by 5.77s off the previous best set by Britons James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent at the world championships in Seville 10 years ago.
Bond and Murray finished almost 9s ahead of the French boat of Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette.
Their time was also 8s quicker than the best from the two other heats.
"We knew we were well prepared, but how it will materialise over a 2k run, you're never quite sure," Bond said.
"It's given us a confidence boost for sure going into the next races. We know we're fast, but we just have to keep smacking out the races like that."
For the three-time world champions, who haven't been beaten since they joined up in 2009, their pursuit of an Olympic title continues with the semi-finals on Wednesday.
While expectations surrounding them will now have increased, Murray said their approach remained step by step.
"We are under no illusions," he said.
"Today was about qualifying for the semi-finals and that's where we are right now."
Bond and Murray's achievement was part of an encouraging day for the New Zealand camp, with all the world champion crews who were in action progressing to the next stage.
The others to get through were five-time world champion single sculler Mahe Drysdale, men's double scullers Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan, and the women's pair of Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown.
Drysdale had a comfortable victory to book a quarter-final berth.
Cohen and Sullivan also won to reach the semi-finals, but only after a storming finish over the final 500m to go from third to first.
Haigh and Scown are through to the final on Wednesday, but they had to settle for second in their heat behind Australians Kate Hornsey and Sarah Tait.
Also safely past the first hurdle is women's single sculler Emma Twigg, who won her race to make the quarter-finals.
However, the New Zealand crews in the women's and men's quadruple sculls face repechages after finishing third and fourth in their respective heats.
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