Posted by: crustynomad | August 17, 2008

Olympics – day 8

Where can I possibly begin on this review of day eight in Beijing? Well, I’ve always tried to give a British spin to my commentary which is hardly surprising under the circumstances especially on this day. For Team GB it was a medal fest but the real stories were elsewhere.

This day was the final of the blue ribband event, the men’s 100m with Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell plus Michael Phelps quest to equal Mark Spitz‘s seven Gold haul in the pool.

First up is was Phelps in the 100m Butterfly final in his bid for a piece of history. Unfortunately I missed it as well as a couple of other key events as I was asleep on the couch from 2:00 to 5:00am. However, with wall-to-wall coverage online, TV and radio, the result and replay didn’t elude me for long.

The first surprise was how relatively poor Michael Phelp’s start was to the point he was seventh at the turn. As expected though he fought back to close in on Serbia’s Milorad Cavic who had lead for the majority of the race to win in 50:58 seconds, just one hundredth of a second ahead of Cavic.

Looking back at the slow motion replay of the final touch it didn’t look possible that Phelps could’ve touched before the Serb and indeed, his team lodged a complaint but the result was subsequently confirmed. This meant that the American matched Spitz…but did he? Remember that in 1972 he won seven events, all in world records but Phelps could only produce an Olympic record but I think we can forgive him for that.

In the men’s 100m I was surprised that Tyson Gay didn’t make the final but even more surprised at the events that unfolded. Usain Bolt of Jamaica ran a fantastic race and his victory was never in doubt as he set a new world record time of 9.69 seconds. What was so incredible was that he was easing down well before the end and still won be 0.20 seconds.

As amazing as this run is I am very suspicious – it was just too easy. As I type nothing has been heard to the contrary but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the future that it transpired that Bolt wasn’t completely clean. I remember the amazement of Ben Johnson’s time of 9.79 but this is another tenth faster when he had more in the tank. I’m sorry, but it was just too quick.

I remember Jim Hines’s world record standing at 9.95 for 15 years until Calvin Smith beat it in 1983. In the next 25 years, a quarter of a second has been cut from the record which may not sound a lot but that is a 2.42% drop in time over a very short distance. Over roughly the same period, the 800m record has dropped by just 0.62 seconds. Seb Coe ran1:41.73 in 1981 with the current record set by Wilson Kipketer in 1997 is 1:41.11

It should also not be forgotten that in addition to the two Ben Johnson 100m records, the times of Tim Montgommery and Justin Gaitlin have also been removed from the books. Interesting, huh?

So back to the Brits…

The other main omission from my ‘live’ viewing was Rebecca Adlington in the 800m freestyle. Wow! What a women this is. At just 19 years of age you cannot wonder where her new found fame will take her. In this race she not only beat the opposition by six seconds, she broke the longest standing world record in the women’s section which was set while Becky was still in nappies! One thing is for sure, I think she has the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award sown up already.

When I watch the recordings of her two Gold winning performances, I still well up with pride. Her excitement is infectious and makes me personally very proud to be British. Go girl!

As for the other British performances I cannot possible do justice to everybody’s efforts at this late hour. I’m currently watching the women’s marathon on day nine and the time is 2:24am. However, I will definitely return to this momentous day because they has never been a day quite like it, certainly not in my lifetime.

What I will do is give the medal results with links to the video coverage where available.

GOLD

Rebecca Adlington
Swimming – 800m freestyle
Read the report

Tom James/Steve Williams/Pete Reed/Andy Hodge
Rowing – men’s four
Read the report

Bradley Wiggins
Cycling – men’s individual pursuit
Read the report

Chris Hoy
Cycling – men’s keirin
Read the report

SILVER

Ross Edgar
Cycling – men’s keirin
Read the report

BRONZE

Elise Babington/Anna Bebington
Rowing – women’s double sculls
Read the report

Matthew Wells/Stephen Rowbotham
Rowing – men’s double sculls
Read the report

Chris Newton
Cycling – men’s points race
Read the report

Steven Burke
Cycling – men’s individual pursuit
Read the report

This fantastic medal haul could have been boosted by at least another two Golds but the lack of wind postponed the sailing until Sunday. We’ll see what happens…

Here is the medal table at the end of day eight.

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 China 27 13 6 46
2 USA 16 16 22 54
3 Germany 8 5 5 18
4 South Korea 7 9 4 20
5 Australia 7 8 10 25
6 Japan 7 5 5 17
7 Great Britain 7 3 7 17
8 Italy 6 5 5 16
9 Russia 5 8 8 21
10 Ukraine 5 2 5 12

To read my other daily reports. please go to my Olympic index page.

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