On the day Michael Phelps officially became the greatest Olympic athelete of all time, the big question for the host nation is who will claim the first Gold medal for Team GB at London 2012.
Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins is the favourite to win the men’s time trial on Wednesday afternoon. But GB’s rowers will have the chance to beat our cycling team to that first Gold in the morning at Eton Dorney.
In pole position are Helen Glover and Heather Stanning in the women’s pair. They are the red hot favourites after storming to the final by breaking the Olympic record. And if Team GB are to achieve a projected record medal haul it is essential the rowers fulfil their potential.
The Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University has predicted Team GB will win 27 gold medals at London 2012, and 56 medals in total. Home advantage, they forecast, will equate to an extra 15 medals. Four years ago the same experts predicted China’s record medal haul in Beijing.
SWIMMING: This time round China are the talk of the Games because their teenage wonder swimmer Ye Shiwen won the 400M individual medley in an eye popping time that almost matched the winner of the men’s final.
“My results come from hard work and training and I would never use any banned drugs. The Chinese people have clean hands,” Ye told China News Service after her remarkable swim on Saturday. And the 16-year-old Ye barely raised a smile when she won her second gold on Day 4 in the women’s 200m individual medley.
How tragic that such an incredible display should be overshadowed by unjustified media speculation of substance abuse. It hardly seems fair after no such fingers have been pointed at 15-year-old Lithuanian born Plymouth schoolgirl Ruta Meilutyte, who won gold in yesterday’s 100M breakstroke final.
It is no surprise that the American coach John Leonard, has suffered a backlash of online anger from fans who believe he has tarnished the Chinese wonder swimmer because he is a bad loser. The executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association told The Guardian newspaper that Ye’s performance was “unbelievable” and “disturbing”.
Unbelievable but in no way disturbing was tonight’s historic swim by Phelps.
It was great to see an excited packed-house at the Aquatic Centre pay a respectful tribute to the legendary American who won his 15th Gold when he led home the anchor leg in the final of the 4 x 200M freestyle relay. That took Phelps’ overall tally to a record 19 medals.
What an amazing journey it’s been for the American superhero who made his Olympic debut as a 15-year-old in Sydney 12 years ago. It has been a great privilege to watch Phelps – and how damatic that he made history an hour after one of the most frustrating defeats of his brilliant career
Phelps made a shocking blunder at the end of his signature event, the 200 butterfly, and had to settle for silver. But that made the taste of Gold in the relay all the sweeter.
EQUESTRIAN: Meanwhile, it was silver that put the smile on the face of Great Britain’s Equestrian team.
Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Zara Phillips and Nicola Wilson finished runners-up to Germany to take GB’s fourth medal.
What great theatre it was when Tina Cook sealed second place ahead of New Zealand by collecting just one penalty, Germany taking the Gold.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t get gold, but the team’s been awesome,” said the Queen’s grand-daughter Phillips who poignantly received her medal along with her team-mates from her mother, the Princess Royal.
FOOTBALL: What an achievement by Team GB’s women to beat Brazil 1-0 at Wembley to top their group and claim a quarter-final against Canada. And what a outstanding winner it was by left-back Steph Houghton, who struck from a tight angle in the second minute to score her third goal in as many games.
GYMNASTICS: When it comes to inspiring the next generation, Team GB’s gymnasts are having a special Games. The women’s artistic gymnasts were unable to replicate the men’s bronze medal display …but they put on a breathtaking performance to wow the watching nation and finish sixth.
The quintet of Beth Tweddle, Imogen Cairns, Jennifer Pinches, Hannah Whelan and Team GB’s youngest member Rebecca Tunney (pictured), raised the roof of the Greenwich Arena despite being unable to upset favourites USA.