Britannia rules the waves and wheels
Sunday 17 August 2008
A remarkable haul of nine medals in one day yesterday – four of them gold – was Great Britain's greatest Olympic showing for 100 years. And though in the early hours of this morning, Paula Radcliffe was unable to add any more precious metal in the marathon, she proved the doctors wrong who said her latest Olympic adventure would be a mission impossible.
A historic day began almost 24 hours earlier when Rebecca Adlington won a second sensational swimming gold, smashing the world record in the 800m freestyle to add to her victory in the 400m freestyle.
Then it was the turn of the men's rowing four to shine, emulating the successes of Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent and Co. Andy Hodge, Peter Reed, Steve Williams and Tom James came from three-quarters of a length down to edge out Australia.
In the velodrome, the seemingly invincible Bradley Wiggins rushed to retain his Olympic 4,000m individual pursuit title and the red-hot favourite Chris Hoy was impressive in the men's keirin final, his team-mate Ross Edgar picking up a superb silver.
Britain also picked up four bronzes, with Steven Burke taking an unexpected third place behind Wiggins and Chris Newton making the podium in the points race. At the rowing park, the men's and women's double scullers both bagged bronze.
Radcliffe, who shook off fears about her fitness after a stress fracture of the femur in May, finish the marathon, though she laboured towards the end, while fellow Briton Mara Yamauchi came in sixth place.
Today there are four more guaranteed medals. Ben Ainslie and the "three blondes in a boat" go for gold in the Finn and Yngling classes respectively, while flat-mates Rebecca Romero and Wendy Houvenaghel fight it out in an all-British pursuit final.
All our golden years
Since the Second World War, Great Britain have rarely won multiple gold medals on a single day.
On Golden Saturday at Athens 2004, Britain won four golds after a slow start – they had only one gold up to that point.
The winners were cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the men's coxless four and sailors Ben Ainslie in the Finn and the women's Yngling crew.
At Sydney 2000 Great Britain recorded their biggest medal tally since 1920, but the best that Team GB managed was two golds on three separate days.
Denise Lewis won the heptathlon on the same day that the men's rowing eight took gold, therewere two sailing golds on thefinal Friday of the Games, andthe team finished strongly on day 16, with the heavyweight boxing gold going to Audley Harrison while Stephanie Cook won the modern pentathlon.
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