The Olympics: Day 6

Rowing:  After a glut of bronzes and a couple of golds yesterday, there was one colour of medal missing.  That oversight was rectified early today when Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley won silver in the double sculls.  They had been leading the race and the gold looked a possibility but the Polish boat slowly inched past them towards the end to win by 0.95 secs.  If coming 4th is the worst possible place, then surely silver must be the most bittersweet position.  Is it a gold lost or a silver won?  That is the question.  For Katherine Grainger, it made her the most successful British female Olympian with five medals, four of them silver, to go with the gold she won at London 2012.  Considering Grainger is 40 years old and the pair weren’t even initially in the Olympic team before getting a reprieve, it is an incredible achievement and certainly a silver won.

Canoe Slalom C2:  Another silver won – or was it gold lost?  At one point, just like our rowers, the team of David Florence and Richard Hounslow were leading during their run and appeared destined for gold, but unfortunately, they struggled through the final two gates, and lost out by a whisker to Slovakian cousins Ladislaw and Peter Skantar.  It was, though, a redemption for David Florence after the disaster of the C1, even if he and his partner could not improve on the silver they won in London 2012.

Rugby Sevens:  GB were playing Fiji in the final.  Sevens is Fiji’s spiritual sport.  They are the best.  They were the top seeds.  The hot favourites.  There was only ever going to be one outcome.  It was a question of by how many.  The answer was a whopping 43 points to 7.  It was Fiji’s first ever Olympic medal, and they will be dancing in the streets of Suva tonight.

Track Cycling:  Silver service seemed to be the order of the day.  Until we entered the Velodrome.  Team GB don’t do any colour but gold in the track cycling.  8 golds in London.  7 golds in Beijing.  So it’s simply going to be a question of how many, and which event?  Gold numero uno in Rio – team sprint.  Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner kicked off the quest with an Olympic record to beat NZ by a tenth of a second.  Strangely, it was something of a surprise win as the team was without the legendary Chris Hoy, now retired, and had been performing poorly.  But cometh the Olympics, wineth the gold.  It was also Jason Kenny’s fourth Olympic gold, putting him third in the all time British list behind Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave.  He will still have two more opportunities to add to his tally.  And if he does, will it be Sir Jason Kenny?

Jason Kenny’s missus-to-be was also keen to get in on the winning act.  Laura Trott has a couple of gold medals herself and looks odds on to add to her haul, after the pursuit team set a world record in qualifying.  So if gold is your colour, and GB is your team, the Velodrome is the only place to be.

Tennis:  I may have mentioned once or twice that I believe tennis should not be in the Olympics.  But as a diehard fan it is near impossible to resist watching one of my favourite sports.  Especially as my favourite player is the defending Olympic champion and the reigning Wimbledon champion.  And favourite for gold.  But life with Andy Murray is anything but straightforward.  He likes to make his fans sweat.  He was playing Fabio Fognini, fabulous and frustrating in equal measure.  It was frustrating Fabio in the first set as he made error upon error to gift Andy the set.  An early break to Murray in the second set and it seemed an early bath all round.  But did I mention that Andy doesn’t do straightforward?  From winning at a canter he seemed to lose concentration in the blustery and glaringly sunny conditions, as Fognini suddenly remembered how to be fabulous.  He reeled off 8 games in a row to level the match and go a break up himself in the final set.  It looked like game over.  But Andy rather enjoys battles of attrition – a little too much for my liking – and broke back in the nick of time.  There was only one winner now.  Andy finally prevailed 6-1, 2-6, 6-3.  But it had been close, too close.

Swimming:  It was all about the mighty Michael Phelps once more (when isn’t it about the supreme swimming god?) and his showdown with team mate Ryan Lochte in the 200m Individual Medley.  Things looked a little friendlier backstage than they had been between Phelps and Chad le Clos before the Butterfly – there were no Darth Maul death stares – but the rivalry was deadly, and the crowd were going bonkers as the swimmers took their marks.  Ryan Lochte was the world champion and world record holder, but Michael Phelps was a gold medal winning machine.  So who would prevail?  Did you really need to ask?!  Phelps absolutely destroyed the field as Lochte was nowhere to be seen.  Phelps seemed utterly nonplussed at winning yet another gold, and who could blame him?  He wins gold medals the way others have hot dinners.  It was his fourth gold medal of the Rio games and his 22nd – yes, that’s right, 22nd! – gold overall.  Is there really any point in anyone else turning up when he is racing?

And still he wasn’t finished.  There was the 100m Butterfly semi-final to go.  Race.  Win gold.  Get medal.  Sing national anthem.  Kiss family.  Race.  Qualify for next final.  That is the Phelps swimming schedule.  I am exhausted writing it.

Men’s Table Tennis:  Guess which country won the gold?  Guess which country won the silver?  It’s a toughie.  I will give you a few minutes to think about it.

 

 

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