Aust women's four win Olympic rowing gold

Australia's women's coxless four have won Olympic gold, beating the Netherlands in the final.
Australia's women's coxless four have won Olympic gold, beating the Netherlands in the final.

Australia have won Olympic gold in the women's coxless four in Tokyo, staking a claim as the nation's new Oarsome Foursome.

With the event returning to the Olympic rowing schedule after almost a 30-year absence, the Australian crew of Rosie Popa, Lucy Stephan, Annabelle McIntyre and Jessica Morrison stormed to gold.

The Australians held off the fast-finishing Netherlands crew while Ireland won bronze.

The world champions set an Olympic record with their heat performance, moving into the final on Wednesday as gold medal favourites.

And they lived up to their top billing, leading from start to finish, although the Dutch came at them in the closing stages lifting their stroke rating.

Australia crossed the line in an Olympic best of six minutes 15.37 seconds, with the Netherlands 0.34 seconds behind.

The women's coxless four, which made its first and last appearance at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, replaces the lightweight men's four in this year's program as part of a push for gender equality.

Australia's men's four has been the most successful boat, winning back-to-back gold in 1992 and 1996 to earn the Oarsome Foursome tag.

But Great Britain have won every gold medal since, with Australia forced to settle for silver medals at the past three Games.

McIntyre and Morrison will be back on the water lining up in the semi-final of the women's pair as they bid for a rare Olympic rowing medal double.

Australian Associated Press