Olympic cycling: Nicole Cooke's village cheers gold bid

Nicole Cooke in the women's road race Nicole Cooke bidding to retain her gold medal in the women's road race

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Neighbours in cyclist Nicole Cooke's home village have gathered together to watch her try to retain Olympic gold.

Cooke, 29, won the first of Great Britain's gold medals at Beijing in 2008 in the women's road race.

Since then, Lizzie Armitstead has taken over as team leader, meaning Cooke could have to sacrifice London gold to Armitstead on Sunday under team orders.

The race, over about 140km (87m), began at midday, and supporters in Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, believe she can win gold.

Start Quote

David and Emma Bullen in the Lamb and Flag in Wick

The village put on a fete last time when she won... they love a party in Wick”

End Quote David Bullen Landlord, Lamb and Flag

"I think her chances are exceptional," said David Bullen, landlord of the Lamb and Flag pub, before the race began.

"Look at her history - she has been exceptional in the past. We are all hoping for the best."

"We've got lots of people coming along to cheer Nicole on. They want to see her win.

"We are doing a little buffet. We've got the bunting up and flags and bits and pieces like photos of Nicole.

2008 fete

"All my locals have told me about the last Nicole Cooke win in 2008 and what they did then.

Nicole Cooke at the women's road race Nicole Cooke at the start of the race

"The village put on a fete last time when she won. They love a party in Wick."

Four years ago, Cooke became the first Welsh athlete in 36 years to win Olympic gold.

But while her parents stayed at home for her triumph in China, this time her parents Tony and Denise are in London to watch her.

Mr Bullen, who has been landlord of the pub since February, said they popped in before setting off for the Games.

"Her parents came in on Thursday to thank us for what we're doing," he added.

"It was lovely to meet them when they came in and gave us bunting.

"We've also hopefully got a video coming from Nicole to thank the Lamb and Flag for what we've done for her in the past."

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The road race began from The Mall before the riders head south-west through the city.

They then cross the River Thames at Putney Bridge and continue out through Richmond Park, Bushy Park and past Hampton Court Palace.

The Surrey section of the course incorporates two circuits of a challenging loop around Box Hill before the riders head north through Leatherhead, Esher, Kingston-upon-Thames, Richmond Park and finish back at The Mall.

Elsewhere, other Welsh competitors include swimmer Georgia Davies in the 100m backstroke heats while Ieuan Lloyd competes in the 200m freestyle.

Davies was impressive in her heat on Sunday morning at the Aquatics Centre, qualifying sixth fastest for the semi-final on Sunday night, as Australian Emily Seebohm set a new Olympic record.

Fellow Ieuan Lloyd missed out on a place in the 200m freestyle semi-final, after finishing sixth in his heat and 19th overall.

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

Sarah Thomas could feature for the GB women's hockey team's opening match against Japan.

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