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Archive for August 1st, 2012

Day 5: Gold for rowers Helen Glover & Heather Stanning, then glory for Bradley Wiggins triggers medal rush for Team GB

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Bradley Wiggins a popular winner in the men's time trial

Bradley Wiggins a popular winner in the men's time trial

BY JOHN GUBBA

After four days without a Gold medal Team GB finally got themselves on top of the podium with a powerhouse performance by Helen Glover and Heather Stanning – and that was the magnificent spark that opened the floodgates for the host nation’s best day at the Games so far.

Cycling superman Bradley Wiggins earned his place in the record books a few hours later when he won Gold in the men’s time trial to become Britain’s most decorated Olympian with seven medals.

There was another medal winning performance by the rowers when Great Britain gave favourites Germany a run for their money in the men’s eight final on their way to a brave bronze.

And  Michael Jamieson pulled off the swim of his life to win a silver in the 200m breaststroke.

History makers: an emotional Gold medal ceremony for Helen Glover and Heaher tanning

History makers: an emotional Gold medal ceremony for Helen Glover and Heaher tanning

ROWING: But the catalyst for a great day for Team GB was that awesome victory by Glover, 26, and Stanning, 27, when the world silver medallists clocked a time of 7:27.13 to grab Gold in the women’s pair.

It was an historic display that made them the first British female rowers to win an Olympic title.Cheered home by an ecstatic sell-out crowd at Eton Dorney the girls came home in style ahead of Australia, with New Zealand taking the bronze.

CYCLING: When Wiggins crowned an unbelievable fortnight adding Gold in the men’s time trial it made him Britain’s most decorated Olympian. Fresh from his triumph in the Tour de France, it was a remarkable achievement.

Taking his tally to four golds, Wiggins dominated the 44km ride around Hampton Court. His victory moves him one medal clear of Sir Steve Redgrave as the most successful British Olympian of all time. GB teammate Chris Froome took bronze behind Germany’s world champion Tony Martin in silver.

Jamieson's surprise medal - he was only fifth at last year's World Championships, and second at the British Championships earlier this year - brought the best noise of the Games so far from the packed stands

Jamieson's surprise medal - he was only fifth at last year's World Championships, and second at the British Championships earlier this year - brought the best noise of the Games so far from the packed stands

Wiggins is the man who will grab all the headlines with a win that sparks the great debate about who is Britain’s greatest  Olympic athlete of all time. In my view it is a pointless argument. Both men – along with other greats like Daley Thompson – can argue they are  the ultimate competitor.

But Wiggo, who revealed he wants to continue his medal chase in Brazil in 2016, could make it even harder to argue against him being the greatest.

“It will never, never get better than that. Incredible. It had to be gold today or nothing. What’s the point of seven medals if they’re not the right colour? Mainly it’s about the four golds’” he said, adding: “Now I have to go to Rio and go for five.”

All Wiggins’ previous Olympic medals came on the track – three golds, one silver and two bronzes.Redgrave, meanwhile, has five golds and one bronze.

ROWING: The oldest medal winner was 40-year-old Greg Searle who was in the men’s eight that claimed bronze after providing world champions Germany with a big scare. Ahead of Germany at halfway, the British team ran out steam with Canada pipping them on the line for silver.

Searle’s teammates were Constantine Louloudis, Alex Partridge, James Foad, Tom Ransley, Ric Egington, Mo Sbihi, Matt Langridge and cox Phelan Hill. For Searle it was justification for coming out of retirement after winning Gold in Barceloa in 1992 and bronce at Atlanta in 1996.

Team GB's bronze medal-winning eight - inspired by verteran Olympic champion Greg Searle

Team GB's bronze medal-winning eight - inspired by veteran Olympic champion Greg Searle

On taking the lead at 1,000m, Searle said: “I had an amazing rush of adrenalin and I thought this really could come true. The crowd was so amazing, so loud, but we didn’t have anything left and the Germans came back at the end.”

SWIMMING: Meanwhile, in the 200 metres breatstroke final, Jamieson smashed his own British best and it took a new world record from Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta to deny him gold, Japan’s Ryo Tateishi taking the bronze.

It was one of the great highlights at the Aquatics Centre to witnessthe 23-year-old Scot, in his debut Olympics, charge down the final 50m to deafening noise and see the 2011 world champion narrowly hold on.

Are Americans guilty of underhand tactics in desperate campaign to topple China from the top of the London 2012 medal table?

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London 2012 Olympic gold medal

London 2012 Olympic gold medal

BY JOHN GUBBA

Is it a sad reflection on society that the integrity of one of the greatest achievements at London 2012 has started a whispering campaign that China’s wonder swimmer Ye Shiwen is guilty of substance abuse? Or are we talking about a cynical smear campaign by the Americans in the bitter battle for supremacy with a rival superpower?

Two outstanding Gold medals for 16-year-old Ye in the individual medley, the first in a world record time to win the 400M, followed by an Olympic record time to take the 200M race, have resulted in an unprecedented attack by American coach John Leonard. ”We want to be very careful about calling it doping,” said Leonard, who is also the executive director of the USA Swimming Coaches Association, after Ye’s first Gold medal. But he then proceeded do do exactly that.

“The one thing I will say is that history in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, ‘unbelievable’, history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved. That last 100m was reminiscent of some old East German swimmers, for people who have been around a while. It was reminiscent of the 400m individual medley by a young Irish woman in Atlanta.”

Leonard, who said Ye “looks like superwoman” added: “Any time someone has looked like superwoman in the history of our sport they have later been found guilty of doping.”

Much that Leonard may be disappointed that America’s reigning world champion Elizabeth Beisel was edged into second place, his outburst is surely a libellous and unwarranted dose of sour grapes.

It was Ye’s final 100m freestyle in Saturday’s 400M race that stood out. Over the last 50m she was quicker than the American Ryan Lochte, who won the men’s 400m individual medley in the second-fastest time in history.

But the reality is that the teenager has satisfied the stringent drugs testing programme and there is no justification to question Ye’s outstanding double Gold medal haul.

Ye said that those who suspect her are biased against China. “Other countries’ swimmers have won multiple golds and no one has said anything,” she said, “How come the people criticise me just because I have multiple medals?”

The volume of  criticism directed toward Ye is so loud that Games officials have felt compelled to defend her, reminding the media that the Chinese teenager has never had a positive test in her career.

BOA chairman Lord Colin Moynihan defended Ye’s innocence declaring: “She’s been through WADA’s program and she’s clean. That’s the end of the story. Ye Shiwen deserves recognition for her talent”.

Meanwhile,  London organizing committee chair and former Olympian, Lord Sebastien Coe, told ITV news. “What you tend to forget is probably the 10 years of work that has already gone in to get to that point. You need to look back through her career. I think you’ve got to be very careful when you make judgments like that but, yes, it is an extraordinary breakthrough.”

No such questions have been raised over the unexpected Gold medal winning swim for 15-year-old Lithuanian-born Plymouth schoolgirl Ruta Meilutyte. And who would even dream of casting doubts over the multi medal-winning exploits of the world’s greatest ever swimmer Michael Phelps.

Despite Phelps claiming his place in history with a record breaking 19th Olympic medal, with four days completed Team USA lie second behind China in the medal table.

End of Day 4: China lead USA at the top of the medal table

End of Day 4: China lead USA at the top of the medal table

China’s anti-doping chief has spoken out in defence of Ye.

“I think it is not proper to single Chinese swimmers out once they produce good results. Some people are just biased,” Jiang Zhixue, who leads anti-doping work at China’s General Administration of Sport, told the state news agency Xinhua.

“We never questioned Michael Phelps when he bagged eight gold medals in Beijing.”

Ye’s father, Ye Qingsong, told the Chinese news portal Tencent the swimming team had gone through an especially rigorous anti-doping regime and attributed her victory to a combination of hard work and guidance from Chinese coaches.

“A lot of different people had to provide all kinds of help for this result to be possible,” he said, adding: “The western media has always been arrogant, and suspicious of Chinese people.”