How fitting that a week after the nation was gripped by cycling fever when Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, Team GB’s first medal at London 2012 came in the road race.
After yesterday’s shattering disappointment when Mark Cavendish was unable to win Gold in the men’s event, 23-year-old Lizzie Armitstead showed true grit and determination to win silver in the women’s race.
And what a thrilling women’s road race it was.
Chased by the peloton, the breakaway trio of Armitstead, Marianne Vos and the Russian Olga Zabalinskaya powered through the heavy rain to set up a pulsating finale.
Former world champion Vos held off a gutsy effort by Armitstead in the final sprint for the line. But this was an heroic effort by the Yorkshire girl who claims her place in history as the first medal winner for Team GB at London 2012
It was a great achievement that left the thousands of supporters who lined the streets of London singing in the rain.
“I’m so shocked, it feels really strange,” said the Leeds-born rider as she climbed from her bike. “My teammates did exactly what they were asked and I can’t thank them enough. Emma [Pooley] attacked on Box Hill which was great as I needed an aggressive start.”
As London 2012 is already experiencing, sport is always guaranteed to serve up a kaleidoscope of human emotion. Moments after Armitstead’s joy we heard the news that 38-year-old Paula Radcliffe’s dream of winning her first Olympic medal is over.
After four previous unsuccessful Games appearances the world record holder will not compete in the marathon because of a foot injury.
SWIMMING: What an outstanding display of guts and determination by Rebecca Adlington to defy the odds and win bronze in defence of her 400M freestyle title.
It was no surprise that French favourite Camille Muffat took the Gold this time. But the hugely popular swimmer from Mansfield – a double Gold medallist four years ago in Beijing – sent the home fans wild with delight when she gave everything to force her way onto the podium.
“I’m so proud to win a medal at my home games,” said an emotional and clearly relieved Becky as her thousands of supporters cheered in the background. It was a magnificent effort after she only squeezed into the final as the eighth fastest swimmer.
GYMNASTICS: Beth Tweddle produced one of the best routines of her life with a brilliant performance in qualifying for the final of the uneven bars. And then crowned a remarkable day by leading GB teammates Imogen Cairns, Rebecca Tunney, Jennifer Pinches and Hannah Whelan to the team final.
It continued the buzz of excitement around the British gymnasts started by the men’s team who yesterday qualified for their final.
Former world champion Tweddle, aiming for a medal at this her fourth and final Games, recorded the highest score of the day on the uneven bars. She pulled off an intricate routine with a seven star manoeuvre, one of the hardest in gymnastics, and wowed the crowd with a double, double dismount which included two somersaults and two turns.
For good measure she threw in her signature move, the Tweddle, when she catches the bar with her hands crossed. The judges awarded her a score of 16.133.
It’s been a tough road to fitness for Tweddle, in this her fourth and final Olympics. It has meant sleeping with an ice chamber on her knee to ensure competing in today’s qualifying round.
Ainslie aiming to match Elvstrom’s record of four Olympic Gold medals
SAILING: Ben Ainslie made a great start in his bid for a fourth consecutive Olympic Gold medal with second place behind Denmark’s Jonas High-Christensen in both of his Finn class races on the opening day at Weymouth.
The 35-year-old Brit – traditionally a slow starter – lies two points behind his rival in the 10-race series.
BEACH VOLLEYBALL: The hottest tickets in town on the first Sunday at London 2012 were arguably the Beach Volleyball. And what a treat there was for British fans who braved the wet conditions at Horse Guards Parade – and were rewarded when Team GB’s women won a thriller.
Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin dramatically fought back after losing the first set to beat Canadians Marie-Andree Lessard and Annie Martin 17-21, 21-14, 15-13. “To bring home a win for GB was amazing,” said Mullin. “The crowd just kept us going. It would have been amazing whether we won or lost.”
“I lived every point and all the ups and downs.” added Dampney.