Lizzie Armitstead silver inspires Rebecca Adlington to bronze

Jul 30, 2012
Gavin Mortimer

'Girl power' gets Team GB on the medals table after Saturday's disappointments

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NOT QUITE Super Sunday for Team GB in the 2012 London Games but there were two medals and a host of encouraging performances after the disappointment of Saturday.

Lizzie Armitstead succeeded where Britain's male cyclists had failed 24 hours earlier, claiming silver in a road race deluged by heavy rain. The 23-year Armitstead crossed the line a wheel's length behind Holland's Marianne Vos with Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia in third.

The 140km race finished on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace and Britain's new Queen of the road later expressed her delight in winning her country's first medal of the London Olympics.

"It is the most special thing I've ever experienced in my life," exclaimed Armitstead, who took up the sport aged 16 after a Talent Identification team had visited her school. "It's so crazy and so inspiring. It was absolutely amazing. I didn't even feel my legs, it was just so special."

Watching Armitstead on television in the Olympic Village was swimmer Rebecca Adlington, and she used the medal-winning performance as motivation when she raced in the final of the 400m freestyle a few hours later.

The defending Olympic champion finished third in 4.03.01, a fractionally faster time than she recorded four years ago in Beijing. "I saw Lizzie Armitstead take the silver in the road race and I just thought, 'girl power, come on the girls'," said Adlington. "Hopefully we can get the whole thing going now and more medals will follow for Great Britain."

In claiming bronze behind France's Camille Muffat and Allison Schmitt of the USA, Adlington became the first British female swimmer to win an individual medal in successive Olympic Games.

Asked if she was disappointed at not being able to emulate her success of 2008 when she won gold in both the 400 and 800m, Adlington replied: "'I have to be honest and say I wasn't expecting a medal. I was in lane eight and I haven't been focusing that much on the 400m in training or racing. The 800m is my race and this definitely sets me up for that."

Other notable performances from British athletes came in the men's tennis where Andy Murray made up for Saturday's disappointment of losing in the doubles by easing past Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round of the singles competition.

The women's gymnastics team were in fine form with Beth Tweddle qualifying for the Olympic uneven bars final and Rebecca Tunney – at 15 the youngest Briton at the Olympics - in Thursday's all-around final.

Meanwhile down at Weymouth Ben Ainslie began his bid for a fourth Olympic sailing gold medal in the Finn class. The 35-year-old Briton finished second in both the opening races to leave himself in contention when the competition resumes today.

In the Star class defending champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson lie in fifth place after two of the ten races.

From Weymouth to Wembley where the men's football team had a scare against the United Arab Emirates before recovering to post a 3-1 victory. Ryan Giggs opened the scoring for Team GB but early in the second half the visitors equalised through Rashed Eisa. Goals from substitute Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge calmed British nerves and now just a draw in their final group game against Uruguay on Wednesday will see them through to the last eight.

Not so Spain who crashed out of the tournament after they followed up their opening defeat to Japan with a 1-0 reverse against Honduras.
British hopes of further medals on Monday rest with the diving duo of Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield, who compete in the men's synchronised 10m platform final this afternoon, and the men's gymnastics team who qualified third for the final behind the USA and Russia. There is also the outside chance of a medal in the pool this evening when Gemma Spofforth and Liam Tancock race in their respective 100m backstroke finals.

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