It’s difficult not to smile as a British sports fan this evening. The previous days have featured so many “nearly”s and “should’ve”s that we were all beginning to doubt whether Britain would ever break the golden duck. However anyone in the know, or anyone who has been watching the regatta at Eton Dorney, was probably pretty sure this morning that things were about to change. Heather Stanning and Helen Glover have been unbeatable all year in the coxless women’s pair in the World Cup meets – which are the meat and drink for international crews – and they destroyed the field over 2km, leading almost from the first stroke, and finishing 2 lengths clear. They even allowed themselves a little smile as a capacity crowd roared the boat through the last 250m. They sealed two little bits of history in those seven and a half minutes, not only becoming Team GB’s first gold medallists of the Games, but they are also the first British women EVER to take gold at an Olympic regatta. The men’s eight went a little later, featuring 40-year-old Greg Searle, and though they were never expected to take gold, they claimed a very creditable and deserved bronze medal, behind Germany and Canada.
So Britain had two medals before my sausage roll had time to burn off its VAT. Delighted. I almost forgot that Britain’s first ever Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins was going in the men’s individual time trial, and as a white-hot favourite. It seemed inevitable that he would win in his typical, ruthlessly efficient style. He delivered, and Chris Froome, the forgotten man of British cycling at the moment, rolled in third, to give Britain a convincing majority on the podium. Only Tony Martin of Germany, the TT world champion, could separate the two Team Sky riders.
Finally, there was the small matter of the 200m breaststroke final, in which two of the three fastest qualifiers would wear the red hat of Great Britain. Glaswegian Michael Jamieson, having broken the British record in the semifinal. In the final, he very nearly broke the World Record. Unfortunately, Hungary’s Gyurte in the lane next to him did. If the race had been 205m breaststroke, Jamieson was closing so fast he would certainly have been celebrating gold, not silver. However, for a man who finished a lowly 12th place at the European Championships earlier in the year, a whisker away from gold must be beyond any dream.
Emma Pooley was unable to follow Wiggins’ example, finishing 6th in the women’s time trial, with road race medallist Lizzie Armistead coming in 10th.
There were more good performances at the North Greenwich arena, with team bronze medallists Kristian Thomas and Daniel Purvis finishing 7th and 12th respectively in the individual all-round competition, a record result for Team GB.
Andy Murray beat Marcos Baghdatis to reach the quarter-finals of the men’s singles, while he will partner up with Laura Robson in the mixed doubles tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s Stories Tonight
If you’ve not watched any of the boxing yet, tomorrow would be a good day to start getting acquainted with Britain’s middleweight boxer Anthony Agogo. His last 16 bout against Ievgen Khitrov kicks off at 14:30.
Team GB will be in action for the first time in the velodrome, with the heats and finals of the men’s and women’s team sprints, starting at 16:30. Expect medals, thrills, spills, and quite possibly the loudest arena of the Games.
There will also be GB medal chances in the three rowing finals, for Fran Halsall and James Goddard in the evening in the pool, and even in the women’s kayak slalom, where Lizzie Neave posted the second fastest time in qualifying.
After 5 medals for Team GB today, tomorrow could be just as good. Follow us on Twitter for news of Team GB’s medal hopes, and all of our sport content.