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Danish rowers' medal rush at London Olympics sparks joy, pride

08-05-2012 21:58 BJT Special Report:2012 London Olympic Games |

COPENHAGEN, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- A medal rush by Denmark's rowers, including gold in the men's lightweight double sculls, has sparked joy among the country's top personalities and sports bodies.

"It was completely fantastic. It was a great moment," said Denmark's Queen Margrethe II, reflecting on the lightweight double sculls win, in comments cited by Danish public broadcaster DR News.

The comments came Saturday night at a banquet for Danish athletes held by the Sports Confederation of Denmark (SCD), the national sports authority, at London's Natural History Museum.

Denmark won its first gold medal of the ongoing London Olympics when lightweight double sculls pair Rasmus Quist and Mads Rasmussen won a nail-biting race to cross the finish line in 6:37.17, beating favorites Britain into second place in 6:37.78.

The final witnessed high drama after a defective seat in the British boat forced a re-start, as per race rules, but Quist and Rasmussen held their nerve to win gold in a photo finish on the 2,000 meter flat-water race course on Eton Dorney Lake, outside London.

"It is great to be back on the top of the podium, just as it was four years ago," Rasmussen said to Danish news agency Ritzau, recalling the Danish pair's bronze medal win in the same event at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Twenty minutes after the pair's victory Saturday, Danish rower Fie Udby Erichsen won silver in the women's single sculls final.

Erichsen held her second-place throughout the race to cross the line in 7:57.72, behind gold winner Miroslava Knapkova of the Czech Republic, who clocked 7:54.37 over the 2,000 meter distance.

"It is simply heavenly. I would not have believed it possible if someone told me two years ago that I would win an Olympic gold medal," Erichsen said in comments carried on the SCD website.

Erichsen's first-ever Olympic medal surprised many, including Michael Andersen, Director of Team Danmark, the Danish sports body which helps select athletes to the Olympics.

"Fie (Udby Erichsen) was not in the running (for a medal). It is the biggest Danish surprise yet at these Olympic Games," Andersen said to Ritzau.

"What she has done today is quite unique, and for me, this marks the greatest day yet for Danish rowing," he added.

Saturday's wins followed a bronze medal for the Danish men's lightweight fours rowing team, a bronze in badminton mixed doubles, and a silver medal in men's skeet shooting.

The medal rush, totaling five medals so far, has sparked excitement in Denmark, with news websites and social media buzzing with positive comments from sports experts and fans.

Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik said the Danish athletes' achievements made him feel "proud and warm at heart".

"They have done extremely well at this tough contest, and although it hardly seems possible, the competition just gets fiercer at every Olympics," he said to DR News, adding that he was sure more Danish medal wins are on their way.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is on summer vacation with her family in London, also attended the Saturday night banquet, where she hailed the Danish athletes.

"I have great respect for them. They have a burning passion for their sport, and want to be best in the world - and they deserve respect for that," she said to DR News.

Rowing is Denmark's second-most successful sport at the Olympics, after sailing, and Danish rowers have won 22 medals so far in the history of the Summer Games.

At the 2012 Games, 113 athletes are representing Denmark in 17 sports, and are aiming to win a total eight medals, the SCD has said.

The medal hunt continues Sunday, where the Danes are on track to win a medal in men's badminton doubles final, and in the men's Finn-class sailing.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Xinhua

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