EX-Upton rower Zac Purchase has realised his Olympic dream by winning a gold medal in the men’s lightweight double sculls in Beijing.

Zac, who started rowing at Upton in the mid 1990s, and partner Mark Hunter beat off stiff competition from Greece in second place and Denmark who bagged the bronze.

Zac and Mark’s winning time was 6.10.99.

The duo, rowing out of lane three at the Shunyi Lake on Sunday, saw themselves in second place behind the Greeks at the 500m stage but quickly stormed into the lead.

At the 1,000m point, Zac and Mark had got into the gold medal position and didn't look back from there. This was the first time Great Britain had any representatives in the Olympic lightweight sculls finals and the pair remain unbeaten for the 2008 season.

Speaking straight after the race, Zac said: “It’s unbelievable, a fantastic result.

“We knew the Greeks would come back into it but we had a solid middle 1,000 metres.

“The last 200 metres it was a case of keeping it going.

“We set out before the race back in October that we wanted to come here and win this.

“The last 10 years have come down to these six minutes or so of hell.

“The only thing I remember shouting in the race was ‘Gold!’ with 400 metres to go.

“It feels unbelievable. You train for it, prepare for it, put in the hard work and the night before you’re nervous.

“It just feels incredible to have an Olympic gold round your neck.

“Winning an Olympic gold is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And I hope it’s not the last, fingers crossed.”

Angus McCleod, president of Upton Rowing Club, paid tribute to Zac.

He said: “It’s fantastic, absolutely wonderful, we’re very pleased he won obviously.

“There was a lot of emotion on the podium from the pair of them. We’re absolutely proud of him. The win was poetic.

“It certainly doesn’t do the club any harm at all to be associated with anyone like Zac.

“All due credit has to go to the Great Britain rowing coach who switched Zac from a single to the doubles sculls.

“Zac is a massive inspiration to our youngsters, we’re oversubscribed now.

“We have almost 30 juniors all this week at the club in begineers classes.

“He is a great model for competitive sculling with a set of aptitudes and physical gifts that make him one of the finest scullers in the world today.

“He has had a fantastic couple of years.”