Pinsent pockets gold in photo finish

FANTASTIC FOUR: The Great Britain team of Steve Williams, James Cracknell, Ed Coode and Matthew Pinsent celebrates their triumph in the men's four event.  

SCHINIAS (GREECE), AUG. 21. Britain's Matthew Pinsent won the fourth Olympic gold of his career on Saturday when his four boat came back over the last 500 metres to beat Canada in a photo finish.

When the scoreboard at last showed Britain on top by .08 seconds, Pinsent, who had been waiting hunched forward on his seat in the stern, collapsed backward, closed his eyes and threw back his arms, while Ed Coode gave Pinsent's shoulders a congratulatory squeeze.

About 30 British flags of various sizes had been hung from the front rails of the grandstands closest to the finish line. And the crowd roared its loudest when it was made official that Pinsent's boat had won.

Britain had broken out to a .41-second lead over the first 500 metres, but Canada responded with a surge that put them ahead at the halfway mark of the 2,000-metre race.

Canada maintained the lead with 500 metres to go. Then Pinsent, Coode, and fellow boatmates James Cracknell and Steve Williams struggled back even and appeared to have the edge coming to the line. Canada got in a final strong stroke to push its bow nearly even with Britain's at the line, forcing officials to wait until studying a photo to make the results official.

Italy took bronze, 3.43 seconds behind Britain.

France pips Slovenia

France won the men's double sculls, ahead of Slovenia and Italy. The Italians led by 1.72 seconds at half distance, but Frenchmen Sebastien Vieilledent and Adrien Hardy closed to within .37 with 500 metres to go and surged forward to finish in 6:29.00, 2.72 seconds ahead of Slovenia, the defending Olympic champions.

Germany single sculler Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski ended Ekaterina Karsten-Khodotovitch's Olympic dominance in the discipline, beating the two-time defending gold medallist from Belarus by nearly four seconds.

Norwegian Olaf Tufte followed up his victory in last year's world championships with an Olympic gold medal in a time of 6:49.30, more than two seconds ahead of Estonian Jueri Jaanson and Bulgaria's Ivo Yanakiev.

Romanian pair wins

The Romanian tandem of Georgeta Damian and Viorica Susanu, coming off their victory in the World Cup, took the gold medal in pairs, finishing in 7:06.55, followed by Britain and Belarus.

Australians Drew Ginn and James Tomkins, the defending world champions grabbed a more than two-second lead going into the final 500 metres and no other crew could close on them.

No one could stay with two-time defending double sculling world champions Georgina and Carolina Evers-Swindell of New Zealand. The twin sisters had a lead of nearly 1.7 seconds after the first 500 metres and cruised to the finish, letting up on the final strokes to finish in 7:01.79, a second in front of Germany. The British took bronze. — AP