Grainger hails rowing silver in Rio as unbeaten Kiwi pair cruise

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - A 40-year-old murder expert became Britain's most decorated female Olympian and New Zealand's rowing kings Eric Murray and Hamish Bond extended an eight-year unbeaten streak at Rio's weather-delayed regatta on Thursday.

After two of the first five days fell victim to blustery conditions, the sun shone on a hectic session when six golds were handed out at the picturesque Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon by Copacabana beach.

Germany struck double gold in the men's and women's quadruple sculls, Croatian brothers Martin and Valent Sinkovic claimed the double sculls and Switzerland the lightweight men's four.

Britain's Katherine Grainger, who has a degree in homicide, was agonisingly close to defending her double sculls title with Victoria Thornley -- but they couldn't kill the race off.

The British pair led before they were pulled in by Polish pair Natalia Madaj and Magdalena Fularczyk-Kozlowska in the final 500 metres.

However, the silver meant a fifth Olympic medal for Grainger, the most ever compiled by a British female athlete.

It was a fourth silver for the Scot after also finishing second in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, and taking gold in London, after which she took a two-year sabbatical.

The podium finish came after Grainger and Thornley failed to be selected for the women's eight and were only added to the GB rowing team in late June.

"There were many dark, dark, days after my comeback but I would say this is my greatest achievement," Grainger said.

"At the beginning of the regatta you'd have taken that with both hands. I'm delighted," she added.

Victory for Fularczyk-Kozlowska was especially sweet after she finished third in London behind Grainger, who she described as a "legend".

"Katherine's career is very impressive but for us it was just a race and we don't think about her legend," she said.

- Brotherly love -

Kiwi superstar duo Murray and Bond had no such trouble, retaining their Olympic title in the men's pair to stretch their remarkable unbeaten record to 69 races since they teamed up in 2009.

The six-time world champions were well off the world-record time they set in London, but still finished nearly three seconds ahead of South Africa's Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling with Italians Giovanni Abagnale and Marco Di Costanzo taking bronze.

"We still have to execute, but the hard work is done in the four years leading up to this," said Bond after landing New Zealand's first gold of the Games.

"It's the nature of being undefeated, because we can't exceed expectations -- only match them."

There was plenty of brotherly love for the Sinkovics as the siblings, born just 15 months apart, stormed past halfway leaders and silver medallists Lithuania with Norway picking up their first medal in bronze.

"My wife is here but my parents couldn't afford to come," said an emotional Martin Sinkovic.

"We will definitely have a lot of time to enjoy it over the next 12 days in Rio."

Germany surged up the medals table as after winning just one gold on the opening five days of full competition, they bagged the first two of the regatta in a matter of minutes.

The men's crew of Phillipp Wende, Lauritz Schoof, Karl Schulze and Hans Gruhne defended their title in the men's quadruple sculls.

Moments later it was the women's turn as Annekatrin Thiele, Carina Baer, Julia Lier and Lisa Schmidla claimed gold.

Switzerland won the final gold of the morning as Lucas Tramer, Simon Schuerch, Simon Niepmann and Mario Gyr held off Denmark and France in the men's lightweight four.