WINDSOR, England -- Britain captured its first gold medal of the London Olympics on Wednesday when Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the final of the women's pair at the rowing regatta.
Under intense pressure, the favorites established a big lead early in the race and were never threatened. They crossed the line in 7 minutes, 27.13 seconds.
With Princes William and Harry watching, Stanning leaned back into the lap of Glover and punched the air after they sealed the win. They cupped their mouths in disbelief.
Australia finished fast, closing within a length of Britain to snatch the silver medal from world champion New Zealand, which just clipped the United States for the bronze.
It's the first Olympic gold won by a British women's boat and should usher in an unprecedented medal rush for the host nation at Dorney Lake across four days of finals.
Glover, a former gym teacher, and Stanning, a captain in the British army, are unbeaten this year and set an Olympic-best time in the heats.
They were 3.42 seconds ahead after 1,000 meters, and more than five seconds ahead of New Zealand at the 1,500-meter mark. As they raced along packed grandstands in the final 300 meters, they visibly tired but were too far ahead to be caught.
Britain waited until the fifth day of the Olympics to celebrate its first gold medalists. Gold-medal hopes Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Armitstead in cycling and the diving pair of Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield failed to top the podium.