London 2012 Olympics: Day Eleven – Cycling, Wrestling, Cycling, Athletics and Cycling

Two greats of the cycle track who ride off into retirement – Well Done to you both

Yesterday some one text me to ask where the sudden cycling passion has arisen from. I guess I have to point to the Pringle in the Park…The velodrome has provided some of the best entertainment over the Games. The Swimming was magnificent for last week and the Athletics were amazing for the weekend but the one thing that has lasted all 11 days and still excites is the cycling. Even as the track cycling draws to a close there is still the mountain biking and the BMX. Yay! But I promise I will talk about any of the other sports from the Games….for at least 5 paragraphs

As I have said before the Olympics is a great time to discover new sports. I have fallen in love with swimming over the last week, taken up with weightlifting and been enthralled by the hockey. Now, even as we enter the vinegar strokes of the Games there are still sports that can amuse and delight me.

One of those is Greco-Roman wrestling. It is a bizarre sport that, in snapshots, can look like a standard Friday night around George Michael’s house. The oldest sport in the Games (coming from 780 BC) it is still just as popular as it was back then. Especially as the competitors are now clothed. The wrestlers must pin their opponent to the deck or throw them out of the ring without grabbing them below the waist. If no-one can pin in the two minutes then one wrestler has to go on his hands and knees and the other (and I’m not kidding) rides him like a rodeo bull in an attempt to pin him to the floor. It is the most bizarre sight I have ever witnessed and both the throws and the lyrca suits look ridiculous. But I wouldn’t say that directly to the wrestlers… Whether you love it or you hate it, Greco-Roman is quite a spectacle and that is what the Olympics are about really. Also it is a chance for the former Eastern bloc countries to flex their muscles (literally) and take a few medals. Iran seems to be the front-runner taking a massive 3 Golds so far in the event (not a Soviet country really but close enough politically) and Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Hungary are all very adept at it.

See that wasn’t cycling based! Looking at yesterday’s other big news, GB have won a Gold in the dressage over at Greenwich, their first ever in the event as Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin braved the making conditions to make their displays better than anyone else’s and to claim Gold. I know nothing about horse-dancing so I will leave that there before I embarrass myself and annoy horsey people. All I will say is well done.

There was also a smattering of athletics yesterday at the Stadium. Controversially Taoufik Makhloufi won the 1500m final the day after he was thrown out of the Games for ‘breaking the Olympic spirit’. The IAAF (who regulate the athletics at the Games) disqualified him from the event and all other events after he blatantly gave up while running the 800m heats. Having already competed in the 1500m heat and sailed through to the finals he was keen to not tax himself too much and ruin his chances. So on the back straight of the heat he pulled up after only 200m and started ambling through the infield looking bored. IAAF threw him out of the 800m and, as the rules go, you cannot take part in any event after a disqualification on spirit from another. He appealed and was let back in, citing a knee injury at the time. Funny how that knee injury disappeared as soon as he took the blocks for the 1500m final….

Talking of injuries and athletics, Phillips Idowu has crashed out of the triple jump in the heats in spectacular style in a Games that he will want to forget in a hurry. The 33 year-old Brunelian had had an annus horribilis in a saga that has left most fans with a sour taste in their mouths. In July he pulled out of the London Grand Prix 25 minutes before the start with no reason given. The UKAA demanded to know that was going on. No answer. The entire GB team left for Portugal prior to the Games to train in isolation. Idowu was not on the flight and rumours of an injury flew around the press. The UKAA demanded to see his medical records before he could compete for GB. Phillips faxed them over and in essence the injury was made public that he was struggling with a trapped nerve in his back. After his failure to make it past the heats, Idowu was ebullient and blamed UKAA for essentially ‘outing’ his injury. Some pundits went to lengths to agree as well. Phillips Idowu doesn’t receive any funding from the UKAA, he doesn’t have to give them anything so why they revealed his injury to the world, which will make him feel weaker than he may be, I do not know. Own goal for UKAA who will have more explaining to do after the Games after promising to outdo China and failing so far.

Can I talk about cycling again? In a way Brownlee and Brownlee (the triathletes not the solicitors) set the day up nicely with a Gold and Bronze in the triathlon. It could have been a Gold and a Silver but Johnny mounted his bike too soon after swimming (sort of like eating before swimming) and was given a 20s time penalty which he had to take in the running phase and was totally thrown off kilter. But two medals in one family is a meteoric achievement. This segwayed nicely to the Pringle as Hoy and Pendleton looked to end their careers on a high. Hoy would be competing in the Keirin and Pendleton, the sprint. Chris was smooth and calm as he progressed through the stages to book a place in the final. In the final the 6 riders set themselves on the line waiting for the noddy bike to whiz past. Nerves seemed non-existent on Hoy’s face. As the bike shot past Hoy tucked in third and settled with the procession being calm and collected – save the pushing for later. As the bike peeled off he made a break for it taking the lead and pushing hard ut it looked like he had gone too fast too soon as two riders came back at him to challenge. Hoy had to dig deep but in the end he triumphed by half a bike length to seal his 6th Gold and become Britain’s most decorated Olympian. He can now retire after a successful 2012 Games.

Pendleton however had a tough day. In her first ride of the sprint final (best of three), the final bend she and Meares, her Aussie rival, clashed elbows and ran far too close for comfort. The resulting wobbles from both led them apart and led Vicky to wander across the sprinter’s line – a red line that marks out the lanes that people should be in to stop unnecessary weaving. Even though it had been caused by a collision and she had only strayed for a minute she was demoted from the win. A win that she had taken by the width of a wheel, by 0.001 of a second. Anyone watching will have marvelled at the lunge she made for the line to take the victory. Crushing to see her fall foul of the commisaires again – though correct call both times. In race two she led out early and tried to faint Meares on but it was too much to defend from and Meares took the Gold and Pendleton’s career ended in defeat – though a defeat earning a Silver.

Meares went wild and was delighted to have finally ousted her bitter rival. She rode on a victory lap of the velodrome and tore her troublesome visor off. Having dismounted she threw the helmet in the air like a cricketer taking a catch in the field. Pendleton looked, well what other word can you use, crushed. She was in floods of tears, not just because she was beaten comfortably in that sprint, not just because she was unhappy with the first sprint decision by the commisaires, clearly mouthing ‘It’s a farce’ to her coach on the warm-down bikes, but because it was the end of a glorious golden career and it had been a tough Games for her. I think Pendleton has been outstanding in this Games and the last. Her off-track work has been incredible and she really is a great role model for young girls coming into the sport.

But don’t worry girls (and boys), there is a new role model! Laura Trott! At 20 she is just starting her career and what a way to begin – with 2 Gold medals and 3 world records (not to mention the 6 World and European medals). Watch this girl, she will be a powerhouse in the future and is set to succeed ‘Queen Victoria’ in the GB Cycling world. A great ride from her in the Omnium, an event of strategy and strength that she has been masterful in over the last few days. Particularly as she was born with a collapsed lung and asthma and was told by doctors from a young age to take it easy…..

That’s all from the track cycling. BMX and Mountain biking will follow though

Check out the current medal table below. If you want to get involved then feel free to leave a comment or to find me on Facebook (TheOnlyMoxey) or Twitter (@theonlymoxey).

Gold Silver Bronze Total
China 34 21 20 75
USA 30 19 21 70
Mesmerizing Britain 22 13 13 48
Russia 10 18 20 48
Japan 2 13 14 29
France 8 9 11 28
Australia 4 12 10 26
Germany 6 12 7 25
South Korea 12 5 6 23
Italy 7 6 4 17
Netherlands 5 3 6 14
Canada 1 3 7 11
Hungary 4 2 3 9
Ukraine 3 0 6 9
Romania 2 5 2 9
Iran 4 3 1 8
Belarus 3 2 3 8
New Zealand 3 1 4 8
Denmark 2 4 2 8
Brazil 2 1 5 8
Poland 2 1 5 8
Kazakhstan 6 0 1 7
Cuba 3 3 1 7
Sweden 1 3 3 7
Spain 1 4 1 6
North Korea 4 0 1 5
Czech Republic 1 3 1 5
Kenya 1 2 2 5
Mexico 0 3 2 5
South Africa 3 1 0 4
Jamaica 2 1 1 4
Ethiopia 2 0 2 4
Slovenia 1 1 2 4
Colombia 0 3 1 4
Slovakia 0 1 3 4
Croatia 2 1 0 3
Georgia 1 1 1 3
India 0 1 2 3
Azerbaijan 0 1 2 3
Belgium 0 1 2 3
Armenia 0 1 2 3
Lithuania 1 0 1 2
Switzerland 1 1 0 2
Dominican Republic 1 1 0 2
Indonesia 0 1 1 2
Egypt 0 2 0 2
Norway 0 1 1 2
Tunisia 0 1 1 2
Mongolia 0 1 1 2
Estonia 0 1 1 2
Serbia 0 1 1 2
Norway 0 1 1 2
Qatar 0 0 2 2
Greece 0 0 2 2
Moldova 0 0 2 2
Singapore 0 0 2 2
Venezuela 1 0 0 1
Grenada 1 0 0 1
Algeria 1 0 0 1
Chinese Taipei 0 1 0 1
Thailand 0 1 0 1
Guatemala 0 1 0 1
Finland 0 1 0 1
Cyprus 0 1 0 1
Malaysia 0 1 0 1
Uzbekistan 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong 0 0 1 1
Argentina 0 0 1 1
Saudi Arabia 0 0 1 1
Kuwait 0 0 1 1
Puerto Rico 0 0 1 1
Morocco 0 0 1 1

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