Day 10: Medal tally-ho! It's veterans day for Britain's Olympians
Nick Skelton, 54, wins gold in showjumping as gymnast Beth Tweddle, 27, bows out with a bronze
Twelve years after retiring with a broken neck, Great Britain's veteran showjumper Nick Skelton, who will be 55 this year, won his first-ever Olympic medal – and it was a gold one.
The dramatic victory in a sudden-death "jump-off" with Dutch riders was the first time Britain has topped the showjumping podium since 1952 – the same decade that half its team were born.
It was something of a veterans' day yesterday: Britain's "old" lady of gymnastics, the 27-year-old Beth Tweddle, signed off her Olympic career with a bronze in the uneven bars.
Over the past decade Tweddle has almost single-handedly pioneered the resurgence in British gymnastics. Until yesterday, however, the Olympic podium had always eluded her. She laid those ghosts to rest though with a blistering performance.
When the scores came through Tweddle – a notoriously steely athlete – barely gave any reaction. It was only when she looked up to see her parents in the stands, waving the Union Flag that they first gave her when she won her first world championship bronze in 2002, that the tears came. "It just finishes my career perfectly," she told reporters. "I've got every other title to my name and this was the one thing that was missing. I tried to say that it wouldn't have mattered if I'd walked away without it but I would have been devastated tonight walking away with no medal. I can sleep easy tonight."
Over at Greenwich Royal Observatory, where a crowd of 23,000 watched the final of the team competition unfold in escalating tension, Skelton said he was more nervous watching his team-mates than he had been riding himself. The four-man team of Skelton, Peter Charles, 52, who has also previously broken his neck, Ben Maher, 29, and Scott Brash, 26, were not expected to win the gold, but confidence in the team rose in the final few days before the competition.
"My hip's great," said Skeleton, "It's my back that's the problem now. I've got to have it operated on next year.
"I said just get stuck in, it's a jump-off, let's go and win this. I've waited 54 years for this, it's been a long time coming. I've had a few misses in my time, and finally got there." It is the crowning glory of a long career for Skelton, which he thought was over when he broke his neck falling off a horse in 2000. He retired, but came back a year later.
There may yet be further medal success at Greenwich today when the dressage team of Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin go for gold. The trio are currently leading the competition.
Elsewhere yesterday there was a vindication of youth at the Velodrome. The 24-year-old cyclist Jason Kenny justified his controversial selection over Sir Chris Hoy, 12 years his senior, for the men's sprint by winning gold against the Frenchman Gregory Baugé.
In the Olympic Stadium last night, however, there was disappointment for Team GB as both pole vaulter Holly Bleasedale and hurdler Dai Greene missed out on the medals.
The current world champion, Greene had high hopes of a podium finish in the men's 400m hurdles. In the final he fell behind early on, regained composure in the last 200m but just couldn't catch up with the Dominican Republic's Felix Sanchez who regained the gold medal he won in Athens.
Bleasedale never even looked close to competing with pole vault leaders Jen Shuhr and Yelena Isinbayeva who have dominated the sport for much of the last eight years. The Lancashire athlete only took up pole vaulting three years ago, holds the British record and managed to clear an impressive 4.87m earlier this year. But she began last night's finals shaky, struggling to clear the 4.35 mark and eventually stumbling at 4.55, finishing in a tie for sixth.
She left the stadium in tears and later tweeted: "Devastated! Thanks for the support from everyone and sorry for letting people down! Tried my best just wasn't to be!" American Shuhr eventually claimed gold.
Yesterday's medals move Team GB's gold medal count to 18, one short of their total in Beijing.
How Brits did on Day 10
The GB team won gold in the team jumping final, Peter Charles riding a perfect final round to help beat the Netherlands.
Jason Kenny won gold in the men's individual sprint with a stunning victory over the French world champion Grégory Baugé.
Victoria Pendleton eased into the semi-final of the women's sprint, while Laura Trott leads the omnium.
Beth Tweddle took bronze in the women's uneven bars, finishing behind Aliya Mustafina and He Kexin with a score of 15.916. Kristian Thomas came eighth in the men's vault final.
Nicola Adams guaranteed herself at least a bronze by beating Bulgaria's Stoyka Petrova to make the women's flyweight semi-finals. But Savannah Marshall crashed out in the middleweight quarter- finals, while Natasha Jonas was beaten by Katie Taylor in the lightweights.
Lawrence Okoye reached the men's final with his final attempt of 65.28 metres, but Abdul Buhari and Brett Moses failed to join him.
Tim Brabants made it into the kayak single K1 1,000m final and the GB women's side reached the kayak four (K4) 500m final, but Richard Jeffries failed to qualify for the final of the canoe single C1 1,000m.
Olivia Federici and Jenna Randall qualified for the final of the duets after finishing in ninth position with 176.980 points.
Tiffany Porter made the 100m hurdles semi-finals, while Andrew Osagie reached the 800m semi-finals. Hannah England, Lisa Dobriskey and Laura Weightman all made the 1,500m semi-finals. Dai Greene was fourth in the 400m hurdles, while Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child failed to make the 400m hurdles final.
Holly Bleasdale finished joint-sixth in the women's final.
Both Jonathan Hammond and James Huckle went out in qualifying for the men's 50m rifle three-position event, while Ed Ling is out of the men's trap after finishing 21st.
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