Sunday, 29 July 2012

Team GB clinch first medals

Relief. That’s the feeling in the Team GB camp after day two of the London Olympics, as two medals were collected and several other crucial victories were notched to move swiftly on from the struggles of day one.

A new star was born to the British public in Yorkshire’s Lizzie Armistead, who claimed silver in the women’s cycling road race, before Rebecca Adlington relinquished her gold from Beijing in the 400m freestyle but still secured an impressive bronze medal.

Elsewhere, the beach volleyball pairing of Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin won a nail-biter at Horse Guards Parade, the Riverbank Arena played host to a brilliant 4-0 victory for the women’s hockey side over Japan and the men’s footballers eventually secured a 3-1 win over the United Arab Emirates at Wembley.

And Beth Tweddle demonstrated age didn’t matter in the artistic gymnastics, as her mesmerizing performance on the uneven bars inspired her teenage teammates to a second-placed finish behind the might of the USA. It continued Team GB’s good run from yesterday when the men impressed.

For Armistead to achieve silver in such tough conditions makes the moment all the more special to savour. Her expertise in sprinting from her track career certainly counted in her favour, namely winning gold and silver at the 2009 and 2010 World Championships respectively.

Her promise in the road race event was recognised in 2010 as she won stage events at the presitigious Tour de l'Aude and the Tour de l'Ardeche, while last year she claimed the 2011 British road race title. So if you’re a cycling fan, today’s result might not actually be that surprising.

Meanwhile, Adlington’s emotional post-match interview epitomised just how much the 400m freestyle category has evolved since Beijing. The field has become remarkably stronger since 2008 when Adlington won by a fingertip, as more swimmers are comfortable in a range of distances. With the 800m coming up, Adlington will be the favourite to defend her gold from Beijing in her favourite distance.

All of these events listed above experienced terrific atmospheres inside their respective arenas, which was highly encouraging to see during the ongoing debate over empty seats. Understandably, a lot of anger has been vented today on the issue, and what happens over the next few days will be crucial as to what actions Locog take.

In fact, some are so incensed that a new Twitter page, @OlympicSeat, has been established, which tweeted earlier: “It was my lifelong ambition to be an Olympic seat. To provide rest and comfort for cheering sports fans. I feel like such a failure.” Sometimes I wish people would stop moaning and cheer up.

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