James Gray fills you in on what you might have missed this weekend at London 2012.
After the superb show that was the Opening Ceremony, Team GB had the perfect opportunity to roar out of the blocks, with the men’s and women’s road races taking place on the opening weekend, and Rebecca Adlington defending her 400m freestyle title.
Saturday saw the men’s British team, several of whom had been part of the Team Sky team which had propelled Bradley Wiggins to glory in Paris just a week ago. It was Mark Cavendish who crossed the line first on the Champs Élysées, and it was the reigning world champion who was guided to the line by the British team looking for gold. However, a breakaway kept away from the peloton, with the blue and white line of Wiggins, Froome, Cavendish and co. unable to pull the 3 riders. It was Kazakhstan’s Alexandre Vinokourov who triumphed in the end, and at 38 he is currently the oldest gold medallist of the games. It was a thrilling conclusion, and a great story for the winner, but not the one the crowds that on the Mall wanted to see.
Sunday saw one of the ever-presents of British sport out in force: rain. The women on the road were soaked the entire way round the course. Team GB had several medal hopes here: Nicole Cooke had taken gold in similar conditions in Beijing, but Lizzie Armistead is one of the fastest sprinters in the world, and a sprint finish would see her right in amongst the medals. In the end it was a break by the Russian Zabalinskaya, which red hot favourite Marianne Vos tracked. Armistead had been follow Vos all day, and reacted at once. The three riders battle sit out down the Mall, but in the Vos was just too strong, holding off Armistead, who had to make do with silver, securing GB’s first medal.
The British press need no excuse to jump on their heroes backs, but when Becky Adlington secured a bronze in the 400m freestyle, many were quick to criticise, while also taking advantage of the empty seats in some of the other venues to create a giant media storm. Admittedly, it was disappointing not to see Cav take gold, or Adlington defend her title, but neither are the strongest suits for cycling or the swimmer, so the pessimism should be out on hold at least for now.
There were plenty of positives for Team GB over the weekend as well though. The 7-strong men’s boxing team got off to a good start, with star of Subway Anthony Agogo looking particularly impressive in his opening bout. The men’s gymnastics team also qualified in third for the team final, with Louis Smith attaining the highest score on the pommel horse, installing himself as a potential star of the Games, and the women also made it through. For a full report on the Olympic football and the much-talked-about Team GB, come back for Andrew McQuillan’s ever-controversial views later in the week.
Monday sees Tom Daley open his campaign in the 10m platform dive, the men’s gymnastics will go for gold in the evening session, and Heather Watson and Laura Robson make their Olympic debuts at Wimbledon. To keep up to date with all our Olympic coverage and writing, follow us on Twitter , and come back each night for a full round up of the day’s thrills and spills.