Lonsbrough is quick off the mark on the gold run

From Barry Newcombe, SJA Chairman
Beijing, Tuesday:
Paddler David Florence helped to preserve the notion that Brits are best at sport when sitting down.

Scotsman Florence took silver in the C1 slalom canoe today after a terrific second run, and maintained Britain’s daily momentum in picking up medals.

Florence, , who had his 26th birthday on the day of the Beijing Opening Ceremony, had started the day only fourth, but his second-run performance put so much pressure on his Czech and Polish rivals that they cracked, incurring costly penalties on their runs.

Only the early leader and last man to go in the competition, Michal Martikan, of Slovakia, the Olympic gold medallist in Atlanta 12 years ago when he was just 17, could deny Florence the gold. With a near 2sec advantage on first run, the Slovak kept his cool and was even able to incur a one-gate penalty but still clinch gold.

“I was fourth going into the final, so I knew I was in the mix,” said Florence. “The thing with slalom canoeing is there’s one opportunity to do it, one opportunity not to make mistakes.

“I hit a gate in my semi-final run and that cost me a two second penalty straight away, so I knew that if I could avoid that and have a good clean run then I was in with a chance.

“I feel like I’ve really earned my silver medal.”

â–¡ Rebecca Adlington might have been the first woman to win a swimming gold medal for Great Britain since 1960, but no one moved faster on the same day than 1960 200 metres breaststroke champion, now SJA member, Anita Lonsbrough as she chronicled her views for the Daily Telegraph and helped many others with her opinion on the new gold medallist.

Anita said: “When I swam my final in 1960 in Rome it was a beautiful hot day – the swimming was outdoors in a pool which has now been refurbished for international competition – and I enjoyed the conditions so much.”

But what now, Anita, with these morning finals for the swimmers? “I think you will find the majority of times will be slower, except perhaps for Michael Phelps, because swimmers are just not used to getting up at 4.30 and preparing to compete. You can see by the times that some of those who were expected to do well have been suffering.”

Adlington’s up and down years before she clinched gold left Anita hoping that her successor in the gold medal business will be able to build on the Beijing medal. “She will have to talk things through with her coach and work out her management but I think there is a lot more to come.”

â–¡ When her swimming career ended after the 1964 Games, Anita, of course, made a career in the media and PR, including working for BBC radio for more than 40 years. I am told by those back in Britain watching BBC television’s coverage of the Games that when it came to crediting Britain’s previous gold medal-winning women swimmers, the BBC managed to mis-spell her name Lonsborough.

□ The Bush show is over at the Beijing Games. President George W Bush has left town followed by father, President George H W Bush,who made a visit to a tourist site, the Silk Street market, to buy six gowns to a value of £125, one of which had an embroidered dragon on the back.

Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe bought pearls, clothes and silk, the President of Fiji, Josaia Voreque Bainimarama went for pearls, clothes and electrical products.

â–¡ Presldent Bush flew home in Air Force One having said that his visit to the Games was a “very uplifting experience”.

He said: “The whole thing is genuine, that’s the good thing about the Olympics. It’s been a lot of fun. The crowds were a very international mix with people coming to China to cheer for competitors from around the world.”

The president said he enjoyed mixing with the baseball teams of China and the United States when he threw out the first pitch in their practice match – a pleasure to be denied to Messrs Obama or McCain in London in 2012, whichever succeeds Bush as president, since baseball will not be on the Games programme after Beijing.

â–¡ Perhaps the story of these Games is Michael Phelps‘s pursuit of eight gold medals in the swimming. Phelps is up to three golds after this morning’s finals, but the whole enterprise nearly unravelled on leg two, the men’s 4×100 metres freestyle relay, which turned out to be one of the greatest races ever seen in an Olympic arena, in which the Americans were two metres down on France with less than 20 metres to swim. Only then did Jason Lezak, a 33-year-old swim veteran, eat into his rival’s advantage with the ferocity of something out of a Jaws movie.

We all take diffierent angles on our stories, but we found this headline interesting on an Israeli website.

â–¡ SMOG BLOG: Blue skies 2, Smog 8. At last. “Costa del Beijing,” as John Inverdale put it.

â–¡ BBC London’s Adrian Warner is in danger of becoming this blog’s food critic. Already complaining about the poor choice of beer at the London House, a visit to the basketball to witness the showdown between hosts China and the US Dream Team the other night left foodie Warner less than satisfied. At the public concession stands, “all they could buy was popcorn, a small sausage on a stick or biscuits and tasteless ice cream”, he writes.

But there was worse to come. “There is one media restaurant in the venue, I’m told, but you have to order your meal 24 hours in advance!

“London must set a new Olympic trend on catering and put on a decent service for fans in 2012.”

Click here to read: Differing fortunes for Britain’s tennis and diving pairs

Click here to read: Adlington makes British swim history by her fingertips

Click here to read previous blog entries from Barry Newcombe in Beijing

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