Changing China

Giant on the move

India, Britain end long waits for Olympic gold

August 11, 2008

Adlington, JacksonIn all the excitement over Michael Phelps and his bid for eight golds it’d be easy to overlook a few other extraordinary achievements at the Games today.

Amid the gold rush at the Water Cube, Rebecca Adlington won Britain’s first Olympic women’s swimming title in nearly half a century with a victory in the 400 metres freestyle that was every bit as exciting as the American relay win that kept Phelps’s hopes of eight golds alive.

As Derek Parr writes, Adlington, fourth at the final turn, hurtled down the last length to overhaul American Katie Hoff and clinch the gold by a tiny 0.07 seconds in four minutes 03.22 seconds.

Hoff clung on to take the silver in 4:03.29 while Joanne Jackson provided Britain with a second medal when she finished third in 4:03.52.

No prize on offer, but if you know who the last woman gold medallist for Britain was in swimming, show off your knowledge in the comments.

It’s been a great start to the Games for Britain, who got their first gold with Nicole Cooke’s win in the women’s road race event in the cycling on Sunday. As hosts of the next Games there will be a special focus on the Brits. I wonder how many medals they can win in Beijing to give a boost to preparation for London 2012. 

BindraBut if you think 48 years is a long time to wait for a gold, how about more than a century?

India, current population around 1.1 billion, had never won a gold medal at the Olympics in any individual event before Abhinav Bindra won in the men’s 10m air rifle on Monday.

“I can’t describe how happy I am,” the ever-calm Bindra told journalists. “It’s the thrill of my life. That’s about it.”

And don’t forget the other world records at the Water Cube today. In the same race that gave Phelps his second gold, Eamon Sullivan claimed the individual world record when he led the Australian team off on the first lap.

Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima justified his pre-race hype by shaving 0.22 seconds off the world record to win the 100 metre breaststroke and Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry took 0.20 seconds off the world record for 100 metres backstroke during her semi-final.

All in all a belting morning, and we’ll be discussing it all later on our podcast.

PHOTOS (from the top): Rebecca Adlington (R) and Joanne Jackson hold up their medals from the 400 meters freestyle swimming final, August 11, 2008. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach; Abhinav Bindra of India looks at his gold medal after the men’s 10m air rifle final shooting. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan


Anita Lonsbrough, 200m breaststroke, Rome 1960, was apparently at the Water Cube watching Rebecca’s. win yesterday.

Posted by johno | Report as abusive

Two points to you, johno. Quite right. I would have guessed Sharron Davies myself, but I just looked it up and she won a silver in the 1980 Games in the 400m individual medley. I wonder what she’s up to these days.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Its a great moment of pride for India! Congrats Abhinav for making us proud of you!

Posted by J G Mathew | Report as abusive

I think Sharron Davies is working for the Beeb at the moment..You might bump into her in the next few weeks Kevin

Posted by Lee Woodgate | Report as abusive

If I did I don’t think I’d recognise her. Now, Adrian Moorhouse, maybe…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive



Sharron Davies is a member of the BBC team at Beijing, conducting poolside interviews with british competitors etc. She doesn’t seem to have changed all that much in the past 25 years or so.

Posted by johno | Report as abusive

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