Despite the slow start, Team GB’s Olympic campaign really kicked into life today with three gold and three silver medals on the sixth full day of the Games.
My high enthusiasm for our home Olympics has never been a secret, but I’ve begun to struggle when it comes to choosing what to watch. Whilst not perfect, I commend the BBC coverage over the last week. When not watching live rowing on one channel, I could be catching up on early fencing and hockey, amongst other exciting events. The website has even more, but even their 24 streams weren’t enough to keep up with developments all across London today.
This afternoon saw my biggest “edge of the seat” moment in the semifinals of the Women’s -78kg Judo competition. Throughout the day, I had one eye on the events unfolding, shocked that we actually had someone getting that far. I caught up on the highlights of the first two rounds, then dove right into the quarter-finals. Even that was a tense affair and when the judge chalked off our latest effort and the match seemed to be heading to defeat, there was a last second “ippon” and Gemma Gibbons was victorious, once again. Come the semis, I was right there waiting for the start and I wasn’t disappointed by the effort both Gibbons and her opponent exerted. Each of them looked utterly exhausted by the last two minutes and they went into the “golden score” section with noting left. That moment that Gibbons threw France’s Tcheumeo on her back was a fantastic one and the sight of them lying on the mat, having given it all, was hopefully an inspiration to a new generation of future judoka. Unfortunately, Gibbons was outclassed in the final and the gold medal went to a deserving recipient. Still, it was our first medal in 12 years and was the latest success in a fantastic day for Britain…
It had all started so well with the men’s lightweight four rowers, but I have to admit that I had no idea, they’d done it, missing the race for some Chinese badminton or something equally mundane. The first I heard of it was switching over to see them on the podium. Looking back, it was a bit of a nail-biter, wasn’t it? Shame the crew couldn’t replicate their early-season form, but they did manage to fight back from 5th and the South Africans deserved it. What I didn’t miss much of was Peter Robert Russell Wilson (not at all a mouthful) grabbing gold in the double trap final. There was barely anything between each shooter and my heart was in my mouth each time the Brit stepped up to his position. I even thought he’d lost it when he missed two targets in a row, but fortunately his closest rivals had worse days. It’s a good job your score carries on from qualification, otherwise we’d have tied second – with four other competitors! He seems like a great winner and his embrace with his dad was a great Olympic moment.
Two other golds came in finals I feel to have been anti-climaxes. I’ve been a big fan of all the Canoe Slalom events so far, but the decision to have just six boats in the C-2 final kind of sucks out all the tension – half of them will win a medal. Add to that us having two pairs and the odds were on our side. I still didn’t expect the old one-two, though! Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott went first and had to hold on to that lead right until the end. Fair play to David Florence and Richard Hounslow; they led at both intermediate splits but missed out by 0.36 seconds. Still, they’ll be delighted with silver after missing out in the C-1/K-1 categories. Well done to the men’s sprint team of Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes for grabbing gold, yet again. I’m not entirely sold on track cycling; nine laps separated getting out of bed and the podium, but to do it in such emphatic fashion was a joy. I am looking forward to the pursuit team and expect them to trounce all comers.
It’s a good day to be British.