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Relax! Britain's first gold medal due at 10.17am today

By Robin Scott-Elliot

It took two days in Beijing, five in Athens and a matter of hours in Sydney. The first four days of London 2012 have drawn an anxiously observed golden blank for Britain, which means we are halfway towards the horror show that was Atlanta 1996. When will Britain's first gold medal arrive?

A few flutters of alarm are understandable. Mark Cavendish was one of Britain's best prospects of winning gold throughout the Games, never mind on day one. Even when Lizzie Armitstead pedalled Britain on to the board with a thrilling silver and Rebecca Adlington followed that with a gutsy bronze, they were accompanied to the podium by a whispered if-only.

But in truth, apart from Cavendish, there is no just cause for widespread gnashing of sporting teeth quite yet. That first gold will arrive, barring catastrophe, at not long after 10.15am today. Trust me.

Britain have never won a women's gold medal in rowing, but in the pair of former PE teacher Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, a Royal Artillery captain, they have never had a better chance. They have won gold at all three World Cup events this season and cantered through the heats in an Olympic record time of just under 7min. The race gets under way at 10.10am. "This is our lake," is how Glover puts it.

The men's eight also row on the first morning of finals at Eton Dornay and while gold appears Germany's to lose, a medal for 40-year-old Greg Searle and Co is possible. If the rowers, Britain's most consistently successful Olympic team, do fail to break the golden drought, then there are always the road cyclists in the time trial. Bradley Wiggins has already enjoyed a golden summer with his Tour de France victory and Emma Pooley, runner-up in 2008, will be planning for a medal, possibly gold, in the women's event.

Do not dismiss chances of an all-round gymnastic medal or even one in the men's kayak.

A walk around the Olympic Park is enough tomake anyone optimistic, and if it all does go wrong today, there's always Sir Chris Hoy and his golden generation in the velodrome tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph


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