Olympic gold and silver medalists Tom Dean and Duncan Scott combined to help Great Britain win the 4x200m freestyle relay and the fifth Tokyo 2020 team.
The quartet finished just 0.03 seconds off the world record after a star swim from James Guy in the second leg lifted them up from third to a lead that they never looked like.
Their Olympic success follows world championships at events held in 2015 and 2017 and is a silver medal for the winning team in Rio 2016.
For one thing, British rowers won silver in men’s sculls, but there was a disappointment for four men as gold that receded five years ago ended in a fourth place finish and a miserable march in the final 500 meters.
Breaststroke expert Abbie Wood fell just under 0.11secs claiming another British medal in the lake when she was bronze in the 200m medley each.
Taking a total of British medals to 15, Charlotte Dujardin wants to add to that figure – and in continuing to be the most decorated British Olympian woman – as she defends her title of dress later on the fifth day.
There was a disappointment on the part of the British men’s rugby team as they lost their bronze medal match to Argentina 17-12.
But GB will be guaranteed at least another bronze medal as featherweight boxer Harriss Artingstall advances to the semi-finals of the women’s tournament, where he will meet Sena Irie of Japan on Saturday.
- Tokyo Olympics: Tom Dean takes gold, plus silvers for Duncan Scott and Georgia Taylor-Brown
- Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles fails to qualify for the individual all-around final
‘It is very emotional’
Britain’s victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay was finally a relief as they came home more than three seconds ahead of Russia’s Olympic Committee in second place.
At first, however, it looked like it could be strong when Dean, swimming the opening leg, touched a third in a split that was a second and a half slower than the time we gave him each gold.
However, Britain’s deep-rooted power told Guy, Matthew Richards and Scott, with a last leg of 1: 43.45, stretched to the top.
While Guy broke down in tears as he watched Scott stop the club at home, the United States watched in disbelief as there was no American medal for the second time in the history of the Olympic Games – once the 1980 Moscow Games, which the US boycotted.
“As a kid, dreaming of an Olympic gold medal was my dream,” Guy said. “After 25 years, to do it in the end – it’s very heartwarming.”
‘Sculls take silver as four turns’
The four British British sculls were the first to win an award in the industry since being introduced at the Games in 1976.
Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont caught the Australian fastest boat in 0.22secs.
The British boat was towed to an empty line, but it came out hard to put pressure on the whole field.
“It was a bit of a hassle there. The conditions are tough, it’s windy, but that’s what we used to do back home so we trained a lot more often, it didn’t move us,” Beaumont said.
“We decided that, since we were in the same line with the outside chance of winning the medal, we would take it to them and we really did it.”
Britain has a long history of success in the blue-riband men’s event at four events, with five consecutive gold medals going back to the victories of James Cracknell, Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent in Sydney 2000.
The 2021 section could not add to that streak, however. In second place heading to the final 500 meters, Great Britain flew offline, close to hitting an Italian boat before finishing in fourth place.
“I’m facing a steering wheel. I’m paralyzed,” said a worried Ollie Cook afterwards.
“I forgot the steering wheel a bit and that cost us a medal. For the boys, I’m sorry I didn’t control it in the front row in the end.”