Sir Chris Hoy, Laura Trott & Victoria Pendleton provided thrilling cycling finale and are extraordinary role models
August 8th, 2012 at 1:32 am
It was a day that began with the remarkable double medal haul for the Brownlee brothers and peaked with one of the most thrilling hours in the history of British cycling after a first ever gold for Team GB in the dressage.
Day 11 of London 2012 was another glorious landmark in the history of sport in Great Britain – and it saw Our Greatest Team confirm they are just that by taking our gold medal tally to an astonishing 22, surpassing the 19 won in Beijing’s medal tally of 47.
With five days remaining Team GB have already won 48 medals, making this our best Games since 1908 when Britain won 56 golds but provided a third of the athletes.
When Alistair Brownlee struck gold in the triathlon and was followed home by his younger brother Jonathan, who took the bronze, it was only the start of something special.
Laura Bechtolsheimer, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin became Britian’s first Olympic champions in the dressage when they took the gold ahead of rivals Germany.
But the greatest hour of the day for me, rivalling anything we have seen at these Games, came at the Velodrome where Laura Trott, Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy provided courage, pulsating drama and the best of British sporting excellence to bring the curtain down on a remarkable cycling competition.
For Pendleton there was the pain of defeat to her arch rival Anna Mears as she lost her Olympic sprint title in the final, her last ever race. But the sheer brilliance of our most successful women’s cyclist, who had already won gold in the keirin, was matched by her dignity and good sportsmanship when she was wrongly denied by the officials after winning the first pivotal leg of the final.
That drama came hot on the heels of a second breathtaking gold medal triumph for 20-year-old Laura Trott, one of the new generation of young women inspired to take up the sport by Pendleton. Born with a collapsed lung and suffering from asthma, the raw enthusiasm, unrestrained delight and absolute modesty of this young woman is one of the most inspiring stories of London 2012.
Both Trott and Pendleton are outstanding role models for the women of Great Britain. And in Sir Chris Hoy, who was to follow them onto the track with a truly moving finale, we have in my opinion the greatest sporting role model for our men.
Defending his title in the keirin to win his sixth gold medal certainly confirmed him as track cycling’s greatest sprinter of all time.
With gold on the first night of the track cycling in the men’s team sprint, Hoy’s triumph in his final olympic race was the perfect finale for Team GB. It took him past rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave’s five gold medals, and with a silver from Sydney 2000, he equals Bradley Wiggins’s record total of seven medals.
But it is the humility and enormous modesty of the man as well as his brilliance that rightly makes him one of the all-time great sporting heroes. I have met many of the world’s most famous sporting stars over the past 30 years. But never have I met a sportsman who is a more perfect role model than Sir Chris.
Watching the 36-year-old Scot dig deep and fight back to cross the line first after momentarily being overtaken by Germany’s Maximilian Levy in the final sprint was a sporting moment to cherish. And I defy anyone who loves sport who watched the great man collect his gold medal not to share a tear of joy with this modern day braveheart.
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