Another glittering day for GB, even if the medals added to the mountain were silver and bronze rather than gold. The Brits continued to perform well across a host of different sports, although there were also surprise disappointments from some of the country’s strongest athletes.
In Weymouth, British boats were fighting for gold in both the Men’s and the Women’s 470 events, with only the Aussies and the Kiwis in their way. In the women’s boat, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark went into the race in a joint lead alongside Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie of New Zealand. Yet despite strong performances throughout the competition, the breeze was not on the side of the British pair this time around. The ever-variable wind shifted to the other side of the course, leaving Mills and Clark powerless to chase down New Zealand on the other side of the course. Despite finishing a disappointing ninth in the medal race, they still finished second overall and clinched the silver.
There was medal glory for their male counterparts too, as Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell also claimed second place in their event, falling short of top-placed Australia in their race. The pair was guaranteed at least a silver going into the final contest, needing to beat their rivals with one boat in between for the gold. They ploughed on ahead of the Australians in the early stages of the race, but couldn’t keep hold of their lead and crossed the finishing line in fourth place for the silver.
GB’s well-deserved bronze is their first women’s hockey medal since 1992…
Speaking after the race, Stuart Bithell paid tribute to the skill of the Olympic Champions. “We got the better of them at the start and just managed to sneak ahead, but unfortunately they sailed a fantastic race”, he said. “They’re worthy champions, but we’re happy with second.”
GB’s hockey girls were back in action against New Zealand in the bronze match, hoping to make up for the disappointment of defeat in the semi-finals. It was a nervy first half, with the Blacksticks, as the Kiwi hockey side are known, almost going ahead with a penalty corner on the stroke of half time. A goalless first half was more than made up for with a flurry of goals in the second, most of them from British sticks fortunately. Crista Cullen, Alex Danson and Sarah Thomas all got on the score board with goals, New Zealand only managing one final consolation goal in the dying moments of the game. GB’s well-deserved bronze is their first women’s hockey medal since 1992 and only their second in history.
Back to Taekwondo, Sarah Stevenson and Lutalo Mohammad were hoping to follow in the footsteps of Jade Jones and make it onto the podium in their categories. For Stevenson, who lost both her parents to cancer last year, getting to the Games had been impressive in itself. Despite a strong recovery from injury since the beginning of the year, however, Stevenson couldn’t get the better of opponent Paige McPherson in her first fight and was knocked out in the first round. It wasn’t an entirely medal-free for British taekwondo, however, as 21-year old Lutalo Muhammad fought his way to a bronze through a repechage place, making him the first British man in history to win an Olympic taekwondo medal.
…GB’s 4 x 100m relay men were disqualified for an illegal baton handover…
Bronze also awaited middleweight boxer Anthony Ogogo after his semi-final with Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao. The pair was tied on three points after the first round, but the Brazilian got the better of Ogogo in the second and third rounds to claim his place in the final. It was Britain’s first men’s medal in the boxing competition, with several fighters and potential medals yet to come over the weekend.
There were some disappointing moments in an otherwise modestly successful day. No place for Pete Waterfield in the men’s 10m Platform diving semi-final, with pin-up Tom Daley only just managing to scrape through himself. There was more heartbreak on the track, as GB’s 4 x 100m relay men were disqualified for an illegal baton handover between Daniel Tablot and teenager Adam Gemili in their heat.
Nevertheless, inevitable disappointments such as these have been consistently outnumbered by moments of excitement and success during these Games. As Great Britain’s medal tally continues to smash record after record, it seems those that predicted the most successful Olympics ever for a GB squad might just be proved right.