Great Britain take four golds

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Britain's wonderful weekend in Beijing continued today as Team GB struck gold four times.

After Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson sailed to success in the Yngling regatta, rowers Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter stormed to a gold medal in the lightweight double sculls.

The jubilation went on as sailing great Ben Ainslie clinched a gold medal for the third consecutive games after winning the Finn regatta race. It took Team GB's gold tally to double figures.

Rebecca Romero became the first British woman to win medals in two different summer Olympic sports when she beat her team mate Wendy Houvenaghel to win gold in the women's 3-km individual pursuit cycling on Sunday. After crossing the finish line Romero rode up to the stands, took a Union Jack and rode a victory lap then collapsed in tears and exchanged hugs with people in the stands.

In what amounted to a two-horse race for the gold against the Netherlands in the Yngling class, Team GB came home in first place for the first time in the regatta.

Webb, who also won a gold in Athens four years ago, said she was speechless.

The 31-year-old, from Weybridge, Surrey, said: "I'm lost for words, it is such a relief. Our experience was everything, we stayed sure and we got better."

It was also a repeat success for Ayton, 28, from Ashford, Middlesex. She added: "It's been brilliant, this campaign has been about pure perfection and we're just an awesome team."

The success on the water continued shortly after as Hunter and Purchase lived up to their billing as favourites for top spot.

Roared on by the crowd, Purchase, 22, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and Hunter beat world silver medallists Greece by half a length, with world champions Denmark third.

Hunter's father, Terry, watched in tears from the sidelines as his 30-year-old son raced home.

Mr Hunter, from London, told BBC Sport: "He has worked for this for 15 years - since he was aged 15.

"I remember him getting his first international shirt - now he has a gold."

Within half-an-hour Britain continued a memorable morning when Ainslie, 31, from Macclesfield, thrashed the opposition in his race.

Ainslie, who first won a medal in Atlanta in 1996, said his parents were at home watching on television.

"It is a shame they were weren't here but huge thanks to them," he told the BBC.

He said he hoped to bid for another medal at London 2012.

The success came after a painful start to the day when a tearful Paula Radcliffe finished the women's marathon in Beijing today in 23rd place.

The world record-holder was forced to stop two hours and 14 minutes into the race clearly struggling with the injured thigh that had threatened to prevent her competing.

Team-mate Mara Yamauchi came sixth, equalling the best ever performance by a British athlete in an Olympic women's marathon.

Radcliffe, whose stress fracture injury disrupted preparations for the race, fought back tears as she told reporters: "Fingers crossed for 2012."