15 August 2008

Three Men Won a Gold

Staff, Hoy and Kenny
Yeah the Brits finally have put three men on the top of a medal podium in the Beijing Olympics on the first day of the track cycling as Team GB exploded unto the velodrome.

Jamie Staff got the qualifying round off to a flyer with the fastest opening 250 metres ever in the team sprint, allowing Jason Kenny to lead out Chris Hoy for the final 250 setting a World Record 42.950 secs to set the standard. They eased through the first round to face France in the final which they secured with a run of 43.128 over half a second up on the French.

Elsewhere in the velodrome Bradley Wiggins was quickest with an Olympic record in qualifying for the men's 4000m pursuit with debutant Steve Burke a credible 5th. In the women's 3000m version Britain were 1st and 2nd with Wendy Houvenaghel and Rebecca Romero dominating proceedings.

Elsewhere on the various bits of water the sailors are guaranteed at least a silver and bronze medal going into tomorrow's match races as Ben Ainslie in the Finn and the Yngling girls finished far enough ahead of their challengers to make it a two horse race for Ben and at least a bronze for the Yngling crew with the Brits leading both standings. Paul Goodison also now heads the Laser class and Nick Dempsey has moved up to third in teh RS:X Windsurfing class.

Meanwhile in the rowing more British crews secured final places as both the lightweight men's double scull, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, and lightweight men's four, Richard Chambers, James Lindsay-Fynn, Paul Mattick and James Clarke. It makes 10 finals at the rowing lake that Britain will have representation.

Britainia really is doing rather well on and in water at this Olympics.

13 August 2008

It's Team GB & Norn Iron

It was good to see Alan Campbell power over the last few hundred metres of the men's single sculls this morning for a number of reasons. Firstly he has only just recovered from knee surgery but also because his that oft forgotten part of Team GB's name. Yes the Coleraine lad was proud to remind viewers who were able to watch his post race interview with Sir Steve of the Five Golds that he was Northern Irish and wanted to thank the team at the Sports Council for Northern Ireland in Belfast.
Elsewhere Emma Pooley showed that she had learnt how to ride that circuit from the women's road race well when she secured the silver in the women's time trail of the finishing circuit she twice launched attacks over on Sunday. She finished behind and American called Armstrong, but we're quite sure that Lance hasn't undergone gender reassignment to compete as this was Kristin Armstrong who had ended the 23.5 km tough uphill then down again time trail 24 seconds ahead of the Brit. Pooley was 4 seconds ahead at the intermediate check at the Wall 10.8km in but as the commentators said due to her diminutive climbers stature she had to make up time on the climb for the hard work on the descent to the finish.

Yesterday individual bronze for Zara Philips' replacement Tina Cook (must be the name these games) and the team bronze were also won by the eventers at the equestrian centre added to the British medal tally.

11 August 2008

British Women Leading the Gold Rush

Oh yes plenty of jumping up and down on the sofa over the first few days of the Olympics. Although hopefully the neighbours weren't too disturbed by Mister Stephen's whoops at around 10:30 yesterday morning and even earlier this morning. Mister Stephen as an ex-athlete and still competitive sportsman really is a great olympic-phile he was even caught watching live archery this morning on interactive, whilst Rafa Nadal was another option.

However, Team GB&NI (have to give the full IOC recognised name) saw their 200th ever gold medal came after a great team performance in the women's cycling road race. Nicole Cooke was in a breakaway of five entering the last corner of the course, but had dropped off on team orders because of concerns over the wetness of the rain soaked course that a crash may happen. She made up the 20 metres of so she'd dropped behind on the climb to the finish to make up for coming fifth four years ago.

But she was quick to go and hug teammates Emma Pooley and Sharon Laws who had aided he win. Pooley had attacked on the climb on the first finishing circuit and again at the foot of the second and final climb. Which forced other countries to haul her back while Nicole sat and waited. Sharon had been on the ground twice through crashes but took her turns at or near the front to ensure that Nicole was ready for a final surge. With 5 kms to go Nicole found herself in the decisive break that was to stay ahead of the main field to the end thanks to the work her teammates had previously done and continued to do disrupting the chase.

Then this morning the first gold in the pool for GB since Aidrian Moorehouse, who was commentating, in 1984 and the first for a women competitor since Anita Lonsburgh in 1960 went to Rebecca Adlington. Like Cooke she came from behind at the end to snatch the women's 400m freestyle. Not even in the top 3 at the final turn behind America's Katie Hoff and teammate Jo Jackson. Hoff at 25 metres appeared to have gold sown up a whole body length if not more ahead of the two Brits who appeared to have sealed the minor medals but somehow the Brits kept coming at Hoff and on the final stroke Adlington for the only time in the race was ahead, winning by seven hundredths of a second. She only led the race for a mere fraction of a second but it was the vital fraction of time when it mattered.