The water squelched through my toes and ran off the end of my nose as I leant over the barrier and strained to see the finish line 50 metres up the road.

For almost six hours we had stoically shivered under some of the most torrential rain I have ever experienced, waiting to see if Nicole Cooke could finally achieve her Olympic dream.

What a contrast to four years ago in Athens when the temperatures soared into the high 30s and Nicole found herself isolated among the dominant road racing nations who conspired to deny the Welsh cyclist a place on the podium.

That wouldn't happen in Beijing as Great Britain fielded one of the strongest teams on the start line with Emma Pooley and Sharon Laws joining Cooke to mount an heroic bid for glory.

The BBC team at the finish of the women's cycling road race

It was a supreme team effort and at one stage it appeared as though an early attack on the mountain circuit would catapult Pooley into a medal position but they were pulled back by the peloton.

As the race entered its final stages, five riders, including Cooke, were clear and now I was relying on the public address system at the finish line at JuYongGuan to keep me informed.

Hemmed into a fenced area for camera crews, built to accommodate thirty people and now straining to contain at least fifty of us, I squeezed against the barrier with some colleagues from BBC Wales to catch a first glimpse of the winner.

And then through the rain and spray came the ecstatic figure of Nicole Cooke - arms aloft and a smile a mile wide.

We roared and waved and wept and cheered as she was surrounded by a hoard of people out on the course, congratulating the new Olympic champion.

Finally Nicole was shepherded through the mixed zone and down to our camera position to give us her immediate reaction to her success: "It's a dream come true, I can't believe it, it's just a dream come true," she gasped before being ushered away for the medal ceremony.

Nicole's success is well deserved, she has consistently been one of the strongest women cyclists in the world for a number of years and British Cycling has now created an environment and a team that can help this tough competitor achieve her full potential.

It is fantastic to see the British team enjoy this success on the road after establishing themselves so strongly on the track.

If you are interested in learning more about British Cycling's remarkable success story, you could do worse than pick up a copy of Heroes, Villains and Velodromes, Chris Hoy and Britain's Track Cycling Revolution by cycling journalist Richard More.

It gives a fascinating insight into the emergence of Britain as a great track cycling nation and will have you on the edge of the seat as we look forward to the start of the track programme at these Olympics on Friday.

Jill Douglas is a BBC Sport presenter. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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