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"What's Tianjin famous for?" we asked our local driver as we flew along the highway between Beijing and the coastal city to the east of China's capital.

"Lazy people and good restaurants," replied Tony.

That may well be the case, indeed the pace of life is definitely slower in Tianjin than Beijing and we enjoyed a decent lunch but the city has more to boast about than leisurely lunches.

It is also the birthplace of Eric Liddell, Britain's 1924 400m Olympic Champion who was immortalised in David Putnam's film "Chariots of Fire".

Continue reading "Liddell is Chinese hero"

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Chris Hoy said it would take a "special ride" to beat the British Sprint Team in Beijing and boy was he right! No-one was equal to the efforts of Messrs Staff, Kenny and Hoy over three laps of the track as the British cycling revolution rolled on.

I was slightly less confident than Hoy at the start of the evening after listening to the French broadcasters next to us talk up their own team's chances. The French had been half a second faster than the British trio (with Ross Edgar instead of Kenny) at the World Championships in Manchester.

But Hoy knew how the team were performing in the run-up to these Games and was less surprised than the rest of the velodrome when they smashed the world's best time in qualifying.

Continue reading "British cycling revolution rolls on"

The British cycling team was out on the track this morning, the riders taking their last opportunity to tread the boards before the competition gets underway on Friday.

All seems well within the camp, Mark Cavendish has now flown in to join the team after his heroics in the Tour de France and everyone is upbeat after the success of Nicole Cooke on Sunday and Emma Pooley's silver medal in the time trial.

It was another memorable day up on the road course at Juyoungguan with Pooley in such fantastic form that it took an American called Armstrong to deny her the gold.

Continue reading "Mood sky-high in GB cycling camp ahead of track finals"

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.

Continue reading "Cooke victory worth the wait"

I have been following the fortunes of the British Cycling Team for the BBC since 2003 and have been fortunate to witness the huge advances the team has made in recent years, culminating in the nine gold medals they won at the World Championships in Manchester earlier this year.

I've been lucky enough to travel the world covering the sport, from World Championships and Commonwealth Games in Melbourne to the World Roads in Italy and Germany.

It is a great privilege to be allowed so close to the action - my best sporting memory was seeing Chris Hoy win gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

I'm also a rugby presenter for the BBC and came from a news background in television and newspapers.

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