Olympic gold rush for Britain

Four golds for Britain on "super Saturday"
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The Independent Online

Britain was celebrating a gold rush in Beijing today.

"Super Saturday" became sensational as cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy secured Team GB's third and fourth gold medals of the day.

In a memorable day for Britain's athletes, swimmer Rebecca Adlington clinched her second gold medal with a world record in the 800m freestyle and Britain's rowers summoned a stirring comeback to clinch first-place in the coxless four.

Hoy and Wiggins won their races within half-an-hour of each other at the Laoshan Velodrome as they competed in the keirin and the individual pursuit.

Hoy, 32, from Edinburgh, who anchored the three-man sprint to success yesterday, is now on course for an unprecedented three golds if he wins another race tomorrow.

Speaking after becoming Scotland's most-successful Olympian, he told BBC Sport: "I cannot believe this now. It means absolutely everything to me.

"I will just take it all one step at a time. I had better get some good night's sleep to make sure I come back tomorrow with some fire in the belly."

There was also a silver medal for Ross Edgar in the keirin, a bronze for Steven Burke in the pursuit and a bronze for Chris Newton in the points race.

The Team GB gold haul is guaranteed to continue after former rower Rebecca Romero and Wendy Houvenaghel secured an all-UK final in the women's individual cycling pursuit at the Beijing Olympics tomorrow.

It will be a historic day for Romero, who is aiming to become the first British woman to win medals in two different summer Olympic sports.

In rowing this morning, the crew of Steve Williams, Andy Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed and Tom James came from nearly a length behind the Australians to secure Britain's third consecutive title in the coxless four event with a dramatic sprint to the line.

Williams, 32, from Henley-on-Thames, is now a double Olympic champion, having been part of the victorious men's four at the last Games in Athens.

Leander Club - where Williams and Reed are members - enjoyed a champagne breakfast following their success. Charles Barker, manager of the Henley-based club, said: "It is a proud, proud day for us all. We have seen the blood, sweat and tears they have put in."

Earlier, Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington delivered the first of two bronze medals for Britain, producing a storming surge to secure victory in a dramatic finish to the women's doubles sculls.

Then Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham made it a double celebration when they too came third in the men's double sculls.

Another of Britain's major medal hopes however will have to wait a little longer to stake his claim for glory. Two time Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie has been leading the way in the Finn class and seemed on course for a third gold in today's race. However when the wind died organiser halted the race and sailing was postponed for the day.

"It was massively frustrating," Ainslie told the BBC, "I felt I had one hand on the trophy there."

Britain's success today came in the wake of Rebecca Adlington's dazzling victory in the early hours of the morning.

The 19-year-old from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, who won the 400m freestyle earlier in the week, became the first British swimmer in 100 years to win two golds in a single Olympic Games, smashing one of swimming's most illustrious world records in the process.

The double gold makes Adlington the most successful British swimmer since Henry Taylor won three gold medals in the London Games in 1908.

Speaking after today's race, Adlington said: "I can't actually believe it at the minute. It's so nice for the work to have paid off. I've worked so hard for it." .

Team-mate Cassie Patten, who finished eighth, hugged Adlington and turned to the television cameras and said: "If the Queen is listening to this: two golds - Dame Rebecca Adlington."