For British cycling, which is now probably the most dominant force in sport, today may be seen as the day a new star was born. Jason Kenny wonsilver in the individual sprint in Beijing, losing out to Sir Chris Hoy in the final. The “one rider per event” rule this year meant that the team had to choose between the master and the apprentice for the sprint. They went for youth over experience, and the Bolton-born 24-year-old has delivered in the most emphatic way possible. He had already gained one gold in the team sprint, but showed no signs of fatigue on Day 10, overcoming the great Frenchman, Gregory Baugé 2-0 in the best of three final, leading out the second race, holding off his great rival. He never looked in trouble thrughout the rounds, and among the plethora of talent in the British team, Kenny looks to be one of best, and surely has his best years ahead of him. His acceleration, speed, and race nous are second to none in world cycling, and his gold today was no less than he deserved. Laura Trott was also in action again today in the omnium, perhaps the most grueling of Olympic events, where riders compete in 6 different events over 2 days, winning the elimination and the 250m flying lap time trial, putting her in pole position going into some of her strongest events on Day 11. Vicky Pendleton also cruised, and I mean cruised, through to the semi-finals of the women’s sprint. More gold beckons.
It was riders of a different sort who also triumphed on Day 10. Having already gained a silver medal in the team eventing, the team showjumpers went into the final day of the competition facing stiff opposition from the Saudi Arabian team, and the ever-strong Germans. It was the Dutch however who caused them the most problems, posting the same overall score as Team GB. This lead to a nerve-racking jump-off, perhaps the closest equestrianism will ever come to a penalty shootout. The tension was palpable when Peter Charles approached the last fence, needing to clear to take gold. The cheers began when he was still half-way over “Tower Bridge” (the fences were all built in a very London style), and when all four of Vindicat’s hooves hit the sand, the rest of the 23,000 people in the stadium erupted. It was Charles’ first clear round of the competition. If that’s not nerves of steel, I don’t know what is.
There was disappointment in the stadium however, as Britain failed to secure any medals, where at least one looked likely. First of all, Perri Shakes-Drayton, the 400m hurdler who grew up just a few miles from the Olympic Stadium, failed to make it into the final, running a poor race and fading fast. The men’s equivalent followed, with team captain Dai Greene going in lane 2. His lane draw was the result of a poor performance in the semis which saw him laid out on the track with disappointment after finishing, but he scraped through as a fastest loser. Greene is the reigning world champion, but had knee surgery over the winter. Despite that, he ran a PB just a few weeks ago, but in his own words, he just didn’t have the endurance. He finished strongly to move into fourth place, but it was Dominican Felix Sanchez, who won the gold medal 8 years ago, who defied the odds to win gold again. Holly Bleasdale, the young pole vaulter, was also an outside medal contender, but never found her rhythm, failing her second height. There were plenty of other British athletes in action at the stadium, with Lawrence Okoye qualifying for the discus final, all three female 1500m runners (Weightman, Dobriskey, and England) making into the semi-finals, Margaret Adeoye and Abi Oyepitan into the 200m semi-finals, and Tiffany Porter hurdling into the semi-finals, finishing 3rd in her heat.
Beth Tweddle completed her Olympic career, at the ripe old age of 27 (apparently gymnast years are like dog years), with her first ever Olympic medal. No British woman has won an Olympic medal since 1928, but her routine on the uneven bars was flawless, and had she not taken a wobble on landing her dismount (the double back somersault with double twist), it might have been silver or gold, not bronze which she won.
Women’s boxing is making its first ever appearance at the Olympics: Nicola Adams is guarenteed at least a bronze having made the semi finals, whilst in the men’s event, my favourite name of the Games Anthony Agogo is into the semis as well.
Tomorrow’s Stories Today
Plenty of GB athletics tomorrow: European champion Andy Turner starts his medal quest in the heats of the 110m hurdles in the morning, while we will get our first glimpse of much-maligned Philips Idowu in the men’s triple jump. The men’s 200m also kicks off. Some bloke called Bolt is pretty quick and worth watching. Apparently. In the evening session, Robbie Grabarz represents a genuine British medal hope in the men’s high jump.
Sir Chris Hoy starts his keirin charge in the morning, with the final (which we hope to see him in) at 17:57. Laura Trott also competes in the remaining omnium events, and Queen Victoria Pendleton competes in the semis and (touch wood) final of the sprint too.
Finally, if you don’t want to watching people running or cycling, but wouldn’t mind if they did both after some swimming too, then Britain’s favourite brothers, the Brownlees, will take a shot at a famous one-two in the men’s triathlon at 11:00.
GB Medal Prediction
Anyone who is familiar with my writing will know my track record with predictions, but I’m gonna have a crack anyway.
Day 11 = 3 golds, 2 silvers, 2 bronzes
Sure Thing – Vicky Pendleton (Women’s Sprint)
Dark Horse(s) – Great Britain (Team Dressage) – Okay so we’re already in the lead after 2 days of competition, but I couldn’t resist the pun…
Disagree with the predictions? Tweet us your #SureThing and #DarkHorse for Day 10 here. If they both win gold I will enter you into a random draw and you could win a meal out at a St Andrews restaurant. (Terms and Conditions Apply)