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Roundup: A British cycling empire rises in Beijing
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19:58, August 23, 2008


Riders pass the Tian'an Men Square during women's road race of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, August 10, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)


As the Beijing Olympic Games cycling dropped its curtain on Saturday, a new empire has been established by the Britons, who will host the next Olympics in London in 2012.

British cycling team only won two golds in Athens four years ago, which disappointed their people back home. In order to get a good result in Beijing and pave the way for London, the British government funded the team with 3.5 million pounds of lottery money during the past four years.

And, their investment got paid well.

A total of 54 medals had been awarded from the 18 finals in cycling's four disciplines of road cycling, track, BMX and mountain bike at Beijjing Games. Britain finally topped the medal table with eight golds, four silvers and two bronzes, leaving their arch rival France far back with two golds, three silvers and one bronze.

Nicole Cooke stunned the world to claim Britain's first gold in Beijing by wining the women's road race on the first day of the cycling event, while Emma Polley aggrandized British ecstasy in cycling by winning a silver in the women's individual time trial later on.


Britain's Nicole Cooke is excited after passing the finish line during women’s cycling road race of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, August 10, 2008. Nicole Cooke won gold in the event. (Xinhua Photo)


Britain demonstrated their overwhelming domination on the track, medalling in eight of the 10 events, only failing to claim a medal in the mass-start events, the men's and women's points races and the Madison, while traditional track rivals Australians, who collected a total of six golds on the track in Athens, only saved face at last day by winning a silver in women's sprint.

The British men's team made a clean sweep of the sprint events, even going one-two in the men's sprint and keirin. In fact, the Brits never lost a single heat in any of the sprint events.

Flying Scotsman Chris Hoy equalled a 100-year-old British Olympic record on his way to winning his third gold medal of the Games in the coveted sprint event, ahead of England's Jason Kenny.


Cyclists of the British team compete at the men's team sprint qualifying of the Beijing 2008 Olympic cycling-track event at the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing, China, Aug. 15, 2008. The British team ranked 1th with a total time of 42.950 seconds in the qualification and was qualified for the first round. (Xinhua Photo)


"It's pretty special," said Hoy, who becomes the first Briton to win three Olympic golds in a single Games since swimmer Henry Cotton in 1908.

"When I think multiple medals I think about (rower) Steve Redgrave and (swimmer) Michael Phelps," he added.

The 32-year-old Hoy has collected a total of five Olympic medals, four of them gold. In Athens he won the time trial crown on its last Olympic appearance and in Sydney four years earlier he claimed silver in the team sprint behind France.

Britain's record tally of medals was completed by Victoria Pendleton, who maintained her unbeaten momentum throughout the tough three-day sprint tournament to claim her first Olympic crown.

If it was no crash accident in the final of Olympic's newcomer BMX women's race, Shara Reade would add another gold to British lion's share on cycling.

The defending world champion was regarded as the best female BMX rider, and has dominated the race in last year's world championship and this year's world cup in Taiyuan, China.

Two French women Anne-Caroline Chausson and Laetitia Le Corguille were lucky enough to finish one-two on the podium, while Jill Kintner of the United States took the bronze.

Maris Strombergs, reigning world champion from Latvia clinched the gold in men's edition, dashing the hope of the United States to pocket all medals in the event. Mike Day and Donny Robinson has to be placed second and third, swallowing the bitter, even they kept their lead in from the first run.

As for the mountain bike, the only field that Britons has lagged behind, German's Sabine Spitz met no Briton-challenge to take the gold of women's cross country. Maja Wloszczowska of Poland took the silver, while the bronze medal went to Irina Kalentyeva of Russia.

French due Julien Absalon and Jean Christophe Peraud finished 1-2 in the men's edition, and Nino Schurter of Switzerland took the silver. The bronze went to Nino Schurter of Switzerland, and British Liam Killeen only finished eighth.

Chinese cyclists did not live up their promise to make a gold break through on home soil, finishing with one bronze medal took by Guo Shuang in women's sprint on the track.

Four year from now, Britain will hold the Olympics back home. Will British cycling armada keep on sailing far? We will wait and see.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 48 17 27 92/td>
2 USA 31 36 36 103
4 Russia 19 20 23 62
3 Great Britain 18 13 14 45
5 Germany 15 10 15 40
6 Australia 13 14 16 43
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