ROWER Heather Stanning became Scotland’s second gold medal winner at the Rio Olympics yesterday when she and partner Helen Glover led from start to finish to win the women’s pairs event.

Stanning, 31, and Glover, 30, retained the Olympic title they won in London as the first of 29 winners for Team GB four years ago, becoming the first British women to successfully defend an Olympic rowing title. Stanning’s gold came less than 20 hours after fellow Scot Callum Skinner took gold in cycling’s team sprint. A major in the Royal Artillery, Stanning, from Lossiemouth, said: “It means so much more this time. It has been more emotional.”

Stanning and Glover went into the race with a five-year unbeaten record that stretched back 39 races to the 2011 World Championships in Slovenia, though they had been pushed hard in a close finish to their heat in which Denmark were just 0.16 secs behind. In their semi-final Stanning and Glover got back to their dominant ways, seeing off the USA by a comfortable 2.24 seconds.

Nevertheless, they knew a quick start was essential in a final in which Denmark and New Zealand were reckoned to be their closest rivals.

Stanning said afterwards: “We knew we had to make a fast start and we did that. But my first stroke was a bit shoddy compared to what I can do.”

It made no difference as the pair began to pull away almost from the start, their rhythm and power making their race seem easy, though it was far from that.

They dominated the first half of the 2000m course, leading by 3.58 seconds at the mid-point. By 1500m, their lead had been cut slightly but they were still more than a boat length up and victory beckoned.

New Zealand surged late on but the Britons had enough for victory, finishing 1.2 seconds clear of New Zealand in a time of seven minutes, 18.29 seconds.