After a frantic morning and lunchtime medal rush, the velodrome opened. The cycling authorities have pretty much rewritten the rulebook for the Olympics, not exactly because Britain won too many gold medals at Beijing, but that’s what it smells like. With Wiggins’, Cavendish’s, and Hoy’s successes over the last 5 years, British cycling is at an all time high. However, today was a shaky start to proceedings for Team GB’s superstars. First up were Vicky Pendleton and Jess Varnish in the team sprint. This is Pendleton’s last Games, and she will certainly want to go out on a high. The team sprint involves 2 athletes in a 2 lap sprint; the first must complete the first lap at the front, and the second is released to sprint the second lap. Varnish led out, and released Pendleton perfectly, so it seemed. The British pair broke the World Record. It was the ideal start. The sheen was taken off things when the Chinese broke that record minutes later, however, GB were down to race China for the gold, head-to-head. That is until the judges checked the replays, and GB were disqualified for an early release of the second rider. This is the team sprint equivalent of dropping the baton, and the two of them were understandably distraught.
After the women’s disappointment, the other superstars came out on to the track. Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, and 19-year-old Philip Hindes made up the team, and frankly, things didn’t exactly start well. Hindes encountered a malfunction in the first 20 metres, falling off his bike. Fortunately in the tea sprint, an early technical error is forgiven, and after the restart, GB never looked back. The 19-year-old was incredibly cool in the situation given he only joined the team a few months ago, leading off two of Britain’s all time greats with incredible speed. They broke the world record. Twice. Bradley Wiggins was Britain’s greatest ever Olympian for just 24 hours. Once again, it is Sir Chris Hoy. He is pretty quick, and the other two blokes aren’t bad either.
At Weymouth, GB’s sailors had another outstanding day. Ben Ainslie was incensed after two of his opponents, including the leader Hogh-Christensen, claimed that he had clipped a turning buoy. He completed a penalty urn after their protests, but having won the previous race, he finished ahead of the Dane in that race too, signalling keenly to his adversary after the finish line that he was number 1. Not yet, Ben, not yet. The British crews in the men’s 49er and the men’s star did move into the lead however, and Team GB’s sailing success looks like it could continue.
Tomorrow’s Stories Today
Rowing. Lots and lots of rowing. Men’s single and quadruple sculls, the men’s pair, and the women’s double sculls, and Team GB have medal hopes in all of them. At this stage, there is almost too much to watch, but if you want to cherry pick events, Andy Murray takes on Novak Djokovic in the singles semi-finals at 16:00, Rebecca Adlington will attempt to defend her 800m freestyle title at 19:45, and if you’re up early, Jess Ennis kicks off her heptathlon campaign with the 100m hurdles at about 10:15. Yes, that’s early for me.
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