World Rowing: Britain's lightweight double and men's four win gold

Great Britain's men's lightweight double and men's four stormed to gold at the World Rowing Championships.

Olympic champions Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter defended their title, beating New Zealand in a thrilling final.

Tom James, Richard Egington, Alex Gregory and Matthew Langridge produced a faultless performance to finish ahead of Greece and Australia.

Britain have won three Olympic class golds in Slovenia and qualified places for 13 out of 14 boats in London 2012.

Britain also topped the medal table with 14 medals - seven gold, three silver and four bronze - having secured their best ever haul.

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Matthew Pinsent, who won his first gold medal at the 1991 World Championships in Vienna, tweetedexternal-link: "Got to say all hail the best men's sweep team in the world." He said it was arguably "the strongest result of any country in the last 20 yrs."

Purchase and Hunter had not raced together since they failed to win a medal at the Munich World Cup regatta in May after Purchase came down with a virus.

The lightweight double started strongly, holding a lead of 0.43 secs over the 2009 world champions Storm Uru and Peter Taylor of New Zealand.

The Kiwis fought back to lead at halfway, but Purchase and Hunter had enough in reserve to up the pace and surge back into the lead with 500m to go.

Uru and Taylor kept the pressure on but Purchase and Hunter held firm to win their second world title together.

"We knew we had to be in touch with the Kiwis," said Hunter. "We said we should stick in our boat for the first kilometre and then we'd move on and start racing from there.

"We just waited and when we put the hammer down, you saw what happened."

The men's four missed out on a medal last year when they were without James but since the Olympic champion returned in May, the crew have remained unbeaten.

The British crew started slowly in Bled with Australia and Greece leading the way after the first 500m.

But the quartet upped the stroke rate to assume the lead at half distance and powered clear to win by over two seconds.

Gregory told BBC Radio 5 live: "That was our biggest win of the year. I'm so happy that we've managed to keep our unbeaten record this season and improve on the unfortunate issues last year. It's so good."

Despite their success, there's a chance the four could be broken up to accommodate men's pair Pete Reed and Andy Hodge into the crew for 2012.

There was another medal in the women's lightweight double when Sophie Hosking and Hester Goodsell, who won the overall World Cup series earlier this year, won bronze.

"We have worked really hard today and we're really pleased", said Goodsell.

"World Championships medals are a very special thing and, OK, we have the lowest colour but we have something to take away in our bags."

At the start of the day, Britain's mixed adaptive coxed four eased to gold ahead of Canada and Germany.

Britain's Frances Houghton finished fourth in the single sculls 'B' final to miss out on qualification for London 2012.

The 30-year-old has endured an injury-ravaged season which has seen her switch from the quad to the single scull boat as she gets back to full fitness.

Houghton is expected to return to the quad boat, a class in which she has won silver at the last two Olympic Games, for 2012.

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