Olympic cycling: Nicole Cooke hails Armitstead's silver

Cyclist Nicole Cooke has relinquished the Olympic title she won in 2008, but praised GB team-mate Lizzie Armitstead, who won silver in London.

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Cyclist Nicole Cooke has congratulated team-mate Lizzie Armitstead on winning GB's first 2012 medal after her own bid failed to retain the Olympic title.

Armitstead took silver behind Dutch rider Marianne Vos in the women's road race, with Cooke finishing 31st.

Cooke, 29, who was the first GB athlete to win gold at Beijing in 2008, said Armitstead had a "fantastic ride".

Supporters in her home village of Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, praised Cooke's role in the team who pulled off the result.

Cooke could not keep up with the blistering pace in Sunday afternoon's race, was separated from the leading three and ended in the chasing pack. Russian Olga Zabelinskaya took bronze.

Start Quote

Lizzie did a fantastic ride - we were there backing her up but she didn't need it because she was superb”

End Quote Nicole Cooke Olympic cyclist

Afterwards, Cooke who rode as one of the team supporting Armitstead, said: "It feels great. We knew we were in with a serious chance and we did it.

"Lizzie did a fantastic ride - we were there backing her up but she didn't need it because she was superb."

Four years ago, Cooke became the first Welsh athlete in 36 years to win Olympic gold and her supporters back home had hoped she could triumph again.

Villagers watching Sunday's race at the Lamb and Flag pub in Wick included Pauline Thomas, who knows Cooke.

Ms Thomas said her 2008 victory had put the village on the map, and the cyclist would be "frustrated but determined to do her best" despite the setback.

Another villager said: "It was a fantastic result for team GB to get the silver medal, and Nicole was part of that team."

Marianne Vos celebrates as she crosses the finish, followed by Lizzie Armitstead Marianne Vos celebrates as she crosses the finishing line, followed by GB's Lizzie Armitstead

The exciting finish pleased another villager, who said: "I was trying to will her on and I'm sure she will be disappointed she wasn't nearer the front. But it was a great race."

Elsewhere, other Welsh competitors included swimmer Georgia Davies in the 100m backstroke heat, who qualified sixth fastest for the semi-final on Sunday night, as Australian Emily Seebohm set a new Olympic record.

But fellow swimmer Ieuan Lloyd missed out on a place in the 200m freestyle semi-final after he finished sixth in his heat and 19th overall.

'Overwhelmed by the occasion'

At the rowing at Eton Dorney, Victoria Thornley and the women's eight will compete in Tuesday's repechage after finishing third in their heat.

But there was disappointment for Elena Allen, who failed to qualify for the women's skeet shooting final.

Allen, the Russian-born 40-year-old from Newport, finished 14th and admitted she was overwhelmed by the occasion.

Cooke's supporters in Wick watched the road race in the Lamb and Flag pub Cooke's supporters in her home village of Wick watched the road race in the Lamb and Flag pub

She said: "Nothing seemed to go right today".

"I think after I shot first station on the first round and all the clapping started [it] just threw me," Allen added.

"I expected it could possibly happen. It was more likely to happen than not but I wasn't that well prepared for it."

Fred Evans cruised into the last 16 of the welterweight boxing tournament, beating Ilyas Abadi 18 points to 10.

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