Britain wins gold in men's four

WINDSOR, England -- Britain successfully defended its Olympic rowing title in the men's four by beating big rival Australia to gold at Dorney Lake on Saturday.

The crew of Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James, Andrew Triggs Hodge secured Britain's fourth straight Olympic victory in the event in dominant fashion, leading from start to finish, to cross in 6 minutes 3.97 seconds. Australia was a half-length behind in second and the U.S. took the bronze.

Britain, the reigning world champion, maintained its dominance of the discipline that stretches back more than two decades to the days of rowing greats Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent.

The gold was Britain's seventh medal of the regatta -- and third gold -- to surpass its total from Beijing four years ago, making it the country's biggest rowing haul in the modern era.

Their victory also denied Australia's Drew Ginn a fourth gold in four Olympic Games -- a feat that would have been a first for an Australian.

Triggs Hodge repeatedly punched the air after sealing victory.

The Australians and the British then embraced, a nice ending to months of mind games and trash talk on occasion by the rival crews.

Ginn said Australia would turn the final into a "drag race," going out hard from the start, but it was Britain that took the early lead by 0.3 seconds after 500 meters.

The cushion was 0.6 seconds at the 1,000- and 1,500-meter markers and Britain held on comfortably as they were roared home by the crowd, winning by 1.22 seconds.

The bronze for the U.S. crew of Glenn Ochal, Henrik Rummel, Charles Cole and Scott Gault was the country's first medal in the event since the Barcelona Games in 1992.