Rowing duo Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast claim NZ' first gold medal at Tokyo Olympics

Team New Zealand have their first Tokyo gold medal after Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast blitzed the opposition in the final of the women's pair on Thursday.

The Kiwis, who set a world-best time in their semifinal on Wednesday, were trailing Canada and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) early but gradually and calmly worked their way up the field.

They managed to chase down the Canadians in the third quarter of the race and held off a late charge from the Russians, to win in a time of 6:50.19.

The world champion pair, who have been racing together since 2014, were followed over the line by Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia (ROC) and Canada's Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens.

Gowler and Prendergast are just the third female Kiwi crew to win an Olympic gold.

Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler from New Zealand with their gold medals. Photo / Getty

The gold adds to New Zealand's tally of two silver medals and a bronze at the Games so far.

An ecstatic Gowler thanked supporters after the race, saying she was "gutted" fans couldn't celebrate with them because of the Covid-19 restrictions in Tokyo.

"Thanks for all the support, it's been such a long campaign ... five years, and I'm gutted everyone can't be here with us. But we hope we have made you proud!" she told Sky Sport after the race.

"We crossed and I was like 'was someone ahead of us?' I was just so focused on us so I was like 'did we do it?'. Honestly, I can't believe it.

This article was first published by the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.