London 2012 Day 7: Cycling And Rowing Dominate Again



It would be a big bottle, but we need to distill Dave Brailsford and learn his secrets. British cycling is truly the greatest success story in British sport of the last 4 years: I’ve said it before, but it doesn’t stop being true. Tonight, Britain added two more gold medals to their roll of honour. First of all came the team pursuit, which includes Geraint Thomas, a promising road cyclist who didn’t enter the Tour de France this year in order to focus on this event. The four men broke the world record, in qualifying, which is almost rude, and then did it again to crush the Australians in the final. It was a well-deserved and efficient medal. I think we view it as un-British to ruthlessly destroy the field as the cyclists do; we should at some point stumble and fall, allowing someone else to win, but it would appear the cyclists are above the “plucky Brit” tag.

Once the men had done their job, one Victoria Pendleton rode onto the track, seeking redemption for her disqualification from the team sprint. She looked utterly focused. On the startline, her great, career-long rival Anna Mears looked across right at her: Pendleton didn’t even twitch, completely entranced by the track and task ahead of her. The keirin is a new Olympic event for women, but has always been in the world championships, so it’s not new to the athletes. To explain, the riders tool along behind a motorbike which gets steadily faster for three laps, and it then swings off, at which point they can do what they like. Almost as though Mears knew she didn’t have Pendleton in a sprint finish, the Kiwi went early, with two and a half laps to go, but the Brit moved up to 4th position in striking distance, and then pulled out with a lap and a half to go. She hit the front with a lap to go, and never looked back. Mears, destroyed, finished 5th. Two events, two golds, and Vicky bawling on the podium. She’s not even finished yet.

At Eton Dorney, Britain’s success had begun in the morning. First of all, Kath Grainger completed her Olympic journey. Three consectuive silvers in three conscutive Games is an achievement, but at long, long last, in the women’s double sculls, she became an Olympic champion. It was heart-warming to watch. Following that, the men’s pair, which is a bit of a poisoned chalice in rowing. So they stuck two young lads, Will Satch and George Nash, in the boat, and decided to see what happens. What happened was medal-shaped. I have to admit, having been at school with George, I may be a little biased, but it was a magnificent row for two lads who 6 months ago didn’t expect to make the team, and they picked up the bronze medal. Remember the names Nash and Satch, they will go far. On top of all that, Alan Campbell in the lonely single scull put in a very gutsy row to claim bronze too, completing an excellent morning of rowing. Tomorrow is the last day of rowing; believe me when I say, there is more to come…


Today’s elsewhere features more medals. I will write more about Becky Adlington, but for today, I will tell you that she was completely out-swum by a fifteen-year-old American, and picked up her second bronze of the Games, which on its own is an achievement, but compared to the expectations, it seemed a failiure.

Judo claimed its second medal of the Games, as Karina Bryant, in her 4th Games, won her first ever Olympic medal, another bronze, in the women’s heavyweight category, which was a highly emotional moment.

The athletics stadium saw its first action, and it was fitting that the heptathlon, Jess Ennis’ territory, opened the athletics. She ran the fastest 100m hurdles ever by a heptathlete, and with a stunning PB in the 200m as well, she leads the heptathlon after 4 of 7 events, with 19-year-old Katarina Johnson-Thomson (KJT for Twitter-friendly typing) also showing some serious potential. The rest was mostly heats, with every British track athlete getting through the heats, except for Onoura and Oyepitan, the sprinters, who both finished fifth in their heats. Greene, Green, Williams, Ohurougu, McConnell, and Cox all made it through, and both male long jumpers, Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson, qualified for the final as well.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic to secure a final berth against Federer. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope with that…

Tomorrow’s Stories Today

I don’t know: writer falls off perch with sport overload? No let’s be serious for a minute – Mo Farah begins his quest for double gold in the 10,000m final at 21:15. Jess Ennis comes to the end of her multi-eventing, we hope, in the lead. Two men in the long jump final. The first round of the men’s 100m. The women’s team pursuit final. The men’s football quarter-final. Men’s rowing – the four and the lightweight double. Phelps going for his next gold medal, Daniel Fogg in the 1500m freestyle, Halsall in the 50m freestyle, both 4x100m. Whatever you do, don’t leave the house, don’t blink, don’t go for a shower, don’t put the kettle on. Stay on the sofa, and watch all the sport. Unbelievable, Geoff. Gray out.


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