Posted by: crustynomad | August 18, 2008

Olympics – day 9

The coverage of day 9 or Super Sunday began earlier than has been the case on other days because it was the women’s marathon. This meant that we finally see what the result would be of the on-off saga of would she-wouldn’t she appearance of Paula Radcliffe.

Paula is without doubt the best marathoner in women’s history winning seven of her eight races with her only loss being when she dropped out of the 2004 Olympics in Greece. This was totally heartbreaking and completely unexpected and she received totally undeserved criticism for not completing the distance.

While I do understand questions being asked none of us really knew the extent of her illness at the time and the disappointment of being world record holder and topped ranked and have your dream of an Athens victory left in tatters.

Four years on she hasn’t raced since the New York marathon in November and just a few short months ago she suffered a stress fracture to her right leg. She hasn’t anywhere near enough the proper training, having had to resort NASA no-gravity technology just to keep her fitness up.

So to today’s race. The pace was pretty slow to be honest but Paula was up with the leaders for the majority of the race, as was Liz Yelling despite taking a tumble in the second half of the race. For her this gave her an adrenaline rush which meant that she rushed her path back to the front ultimately lead to her demise.

After two and a quarter hours Paula stopped and looked to be in serious trouble and it did look like she was going to fail to finish again but to her credit, she kept going. By this point Romania’s Constantina Tomescu Dita had made the break which turned out to be a winning break. For a while Britain’s Mara Yamauchi was in with a shout of a medal but she finally finished sixth.

Paula came in in 23rd place which was a creditable performance under the circumstances but was distraught. The ‘unfinished business’ she talked about is still unfinished but she did hint that 2012 was a real possibility. It was probably a good thing that Tomescu won as at 38 she is the same age as Paula will be in London. I for one applaud Paula’s decision to take part because she will always have wondered what she could have achieved if she’d just took part. Go Paula – you did us proud.

As yesterday I cannot really do justice to the performances of the day as Britain won another four Golds, two Silvers and Two Bronzes. For that reason I’ve added the reports and videos from the BBC website below.

For athlete profiles please go to: http://www.olympics.org.uk/beijing2008/TeamGB.aspx

GOLD

Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb, Pippa Wilson
Sailing – yngling
Read the report

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter
Rowing – lightweight men’s double sculls
Read the report

Ben Ainslie
Sailing – finn
Read the report

Rebecca Romero
Cycling – women’s individual pursuit
Read the report

SILVER

Alex Partridge/Tom Stallard/Tom Lucy/Richard Egington/Josh West/Alastair Heathcote/Matt Langridge/Colin Smith
Rowing – men’s eights
Read the report

Wendy Houvenaghel
Cycling – women’s individual pursuit
Read the report

BRONZE

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

Louis Smith
Gymnastics – men’s pommel horse
Read the report

It was wonderful experience to see the team moving up the medal table and to finish the day in third place was more than we could have ever expected. What’s more the 11 Golds matches Sydney as the best haul since Antwerp in 1920. Another five over the next seven days – and it is possible, especially in the cycling – it will the best performance in a century and second best ever.

Despite the Golds and Silvers gained I’m going to focus on the last of the list in Louis Smith. Louis is from my home town of Peterborough and you don’t often hear that in Olympic coverage! It was a marvellous performance on the pommel horse and as he’s just 19 it gives him a real opportunity of Gold in London. His success was all the more remarkable as it was the first ever men’s gymnastics medal.

Oh, and one final thing – Michael Phelps won his eighth Gold in eight days.

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

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 China 35 13 13 61
2 USA 19 21 25 65
3 Great Britain 11 6 8 25
4 Germany 9 6 6 21
5 Australia 8 10 11 29
6 South Korea 8 9 5 22
7 Japan 8 5 7 20
8 Russia 7 11 12 30
9 Italy 6 6 6 18
10 Ukraine 5 3 6 14

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

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