1 August 2012

Team GB Finally Start Their Gold Medal Tally In London

Team GB finally started their gold medal count on day five of London 2012 as Helen Glover and Heather Stanning stormed to an impressive win in the rowing women's pair. Unbeaten in the World Cup series this year they went into the final as huge favourites and they duly delivered as they ended up cruising to victory over Australia and world champions New Zealand. Bradley Wiggins jumped on the golden bandwagon as he won the men's cycling time trial, beating German world champion Tony Martin into silver while GB team-mate Chris Froome took bronze. 

Stanning and Glover became the first ever British women to take a rowing gold medal at the Olympic Games while Wiggins also made history as he broke the all-time medal record for a British athlete with his seventh Olympic medal, surpassing the great Sir Steve Redgrave in the process. 

The Belgian-born cyclist now has four golds in his glittering career as well as one silver and two bronzes. His transition from track to road has been nothing short of extraordinary and he is the only man to have won a Grand Tour and Olympic track and road golds. Wiggins went into the 2012 Games as a red-hot favourite after winning both time-trials in the Tour de France on his way to becoming the first Briton to win the 109-year-old event. He was then given the honour of ringing the opening bell of the opening ceremony and despite being part of the disappointing Team GB effort in the men's road race he came back excellently today to win by 42 seconds. Gold medal never looked in doubt as he led at every time split to finish comfortably ahead of world champion Martin. Team Sky team-mate and Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome completed a great team effort for Great Britain with a bronze medal as GB continued to climb the medal table. 

Earlier on in the day it was Stanning and Glover who finished an unbelievable fairytale story in some style as they cruised to GB's first gold medal at these Olympics. Royal Artillery officer Stanning was being cheered on by fellow soldiers in Afghanistan while Glover only took up rowing four years and two months ago. As two bit-part players in the British rowing team they were thrown together really just to see what they could do. What they then managed was nothing short of sensational as they took silver in both the 2010 and 2011 World Championships before going into these Games unbeaten in 2012. Under the pressure of huge expectation the two women won in fine style by two lengths. Glover said that they tried to tell each other that there was no pressure: "We kidded ourselves that there was no pressure. The last thing we said to each other was 'it's just for us, it's just for us', but it was for the whole of the team and the whole of the country." 

The host nation added a further medal at Eton Dorney courtesy of a thrilling men's eight final in which red-hot favourites Germany took gold. Roared on by the crowd the British team launched a magnificent challenge in which they actually overhauled their rivals and trailed by just 0.2 seconds with 500 metres to go. In the end the world champions were just too good and Canada came through for silver ahead of the home team in bronze. 40 year-old Greg Searle claimed his first Olympic medal since Atlanta 1996 after returning to rowing in 2010 after eight years out of the sport. 

GB were not finished there though as Scot Michael Jamieson took the team's second swimming medal with an outstanding silver in the 200m breaststroke, beaten only by a world record from Hungary's Daniel Gyurta.  He is the first medallist in the men's competition for the home nation and was clearly delighted with his new British record: "I cannot believe I have got 2:07, but I forgot about the time tonight - it was more tactical. I tried to stay on Gyurta's shoulder for the first hundred. I wanted to have everything on the line."

There were further successes for the Brits on day five as Andy Murray moved into the quarter-finals of the men's singles tennis tournament after beating Marcos Baghdatis in three sets. The men's football team finished top of their group after beating Uruguay 1-0 to also book a quarter-final spot. The hosts will go into day six in confident mood with more gold medal chances in cycling and rowing as Team GB's best sports start to move into full swing. 

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