Australian kayak quartet win gold

Australia claimed its sixth gold medal at the London Olympics on Thursday when the men's K4 1000m crew triumphed in the canoe sprint competition at Eton Dorney.

The only non-European boat in the final, they became the first Australian crew boat to win at an Olympics when they led all the way to beat home Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The crew of bronzed lifesavers - Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray Stewart and Jake Clear - were jubilant as they crossed the line.

Australia's only two previous gold medals in Olympic canoeing came in the K1 with Clint Robinson, in 1992 at Atlanta, and Ken Wallace four years ago in Beijing.

The Australians went into the race as one of major contenders after taking silver at last year's world titles, and also producing the fastest time in heats and semi-finals on Tuesday.

A false start by the Hungarians, saw the crews called back when Australia had also got out of the blocks quickly.

But the Australians were unfazed by the extra pressure and shot out again quickly to grab an early lead which they built throughout the race.

The Australians crossed the line in two minutes 55.085 seconds, a third of a boat length ahead of the Hungarians (2:55.699) who pipped the in-form Czechs for silver by 0.14secs.

The victory denied 34-year-old Hungarian great Zoltan Kammerer a fourth Olympic gold medal.

It was particularly sweet reward for David Smith and Tate Smith (unrelated) who both paddled in the K4 1000 boat which crashed out badly in the 2008 Beijing Games, failing to make the final, after clashing with veteran Robinson.

"That was a bit nerve-wracking with that false start, everyone was on edge after that," an overjoyed David Smith said after the race.

"The first 250 was always to go out and lead out the race but we weren't as far out as we usually are so we made sure that through that middle part of the race we had good rhythm to move away from them and take advantage of our good boat speed.

"The last 300 where we kicked, none of the crews came through so we knew had the gold and all we had to do was hold on.

"Once we had 100 to go all of us started tightening up, started losing our rhythm but we just had enough boat speed to get through to the line and win gold."

Smith said they had been highly motivated to atone for last year's world titles defeat to Germany where they were overpowered in the final 200m, and had since focussed on improving their finish.

"Always when you come second the year before you are a little bit more hungry and that result showed we were more hungry for it," the 25-year-old said.

It was Australia's first canoe sprint medal at the London Olympics, but adds to the silver which K1 whitewater paddler Jess Fox won in the canoe slalom last week.