Day 4, Tuesday 31 July. I’m at work so I can’t get intimately involved with canoe slaloming, or archery, or Grecian wrestling, or whatever, during the day. That is always fun – the way you rapidly become expert on obscure scoring systems or obscure sports, then promptly forget them for another four years.
The BBC is playing an absolute blinder (we’ll forget the cock up on the road race timings) with multi channels allowing every aficianado to get their fill. I’ve been checking the beach volleyball a little, in training for my visit to the women’s quarter finals this Friday evening, but mostly it’s been a diet of highlights, the visit to Richmond Bridge for the men’s road race (see Sportsthoughts 34) and an unexpected trip to Wembley for some football on Sunday.
My friends, Ginette and Shane, gave me a call on Sunday morning, saying they had a couple of spare tickets for the football that evening. Senegal v Uruguay and then GB v The United Arab Emirates. I had no commitments so happily took up the offer.
The first match went against expectations. Senegal won 2-0, playing most of the game with ten men after a rather harsh straight red card for Abdoulaye Ba. Mind you, maybe it was just delayed justice after the tackles they meted out on Team GB in the previous match. Uruguay were very disappointing in the second half. Maybe the persistent booing of Luis Suarez (good old Englsh club rivalries coming to the fore as usual) deflated them.
Then it was GB against the mighty UAE. 3-1 to GB in the end, but UAE were on top for good parts of the game. In the end I’d say GB were starting to look like a team, with a largely Welsh midfield, plus Tom Cleverley, at the hub. Once again Craig Bellamy was the best player on the field. Never gives less than 110% (to use the old cliche).
I took my camera along, so here are a few shots.
Handbags – and Red for Ba.
Left – the dance. Right – the man of the match.
Celebration time – third goal! Coolly taken by Daniel Sturridge.
So that was the football; but the most exciting result of the day was Lizzie Armitstead’s silver medal on the women’s cycling road race. Similar circuit to the men’s, with two rather than eight laps of Box Hill. Harder conditions because of the rain. Lessons were learned from the previous day and Lizzie went with the breakaway. She was pipped at the post by the best cyclist in women’s racing, Marianne Vos of Holland, but that was no disgrace. It was a brilliant piece of riding to get silver. Hopefully it will inspire the whole GB team to great things at the time trials on Wednesday and in the velodrome from Thursday.
Being a Yorkshire lass, Lizzie said she prefers racing in the rain. Good on her!
That silver medal
Lots of other good moments. Rebecca Adlington getting a bronze in the 400m freestyle swimming clearly meant a huge amount to her. And it is such a magnificent arena, the Aquatic centre (see my Sportsthoughts 13). I was watching a few of the races tonight (Tuesday) and you can feel that atmosphere. Highlights tonight were the great American, Michael Phelps being pipped by the length of a finger by the South African Chad le Clos in the 200m Butterfly and then recovering to play his part in the US victory in the 4X200m freestyle relay. That makes him the biggest medal winner of all time in the Olympics: 19 medals, 15 gold.
Watching the swimming meant I missed Team GB beat Brazil 1-0 in front of a packed Wembley in the women’s football. Outstanding result – they could even afford to miss a penalty. Means they meet Canada in the quarter finals rather than Japan. This is a good thing – the latter are world champions.
Our British boys did brilliantly in the gymnastics on Monday, getting a bronze team medal, the first since 1912. Zoe Smith, a young British weightlifter, spoke so eloquently about the wonder of performing in her hometown and hopes for the future.
And that beach volleyball… well last night, how did the Austria women beat Australia? The Austrians have snow and mountains, not beaches. What’s going on with you Aussies? Get a grip!
More to come. I’ll try and do some music too…