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When it comes to potential British medallists at the Beijing Paralympics, it is hard to go beyond swimmer Dave Roberts and wheelchair racer Dave Weir.

Both are at the top of their respective fields and are in China with key roles to play in ParalympicsGB's potential medal haul at the Games.

Roberts, who is at his third Games, has a chance to beat Tanni Grey-Thompson's haul of 11 Paralympic golds while Weir, who is also at his third Games, wants to cement his reputation as the world's top wheelchair racer when he chases five golds.

Roberts' gold tally currently stands at seven while Weir, despite dominating wheelchair racing for the past three years, only has Paralympic silver and bronze from Athens to his name - he seems certain to put that right that over the next 11 days.

Continue reading "GB Daves on gold trail"

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It seems a little unfair when you had 10,708 athletes competing for 958 medals in 28 different sports, but the Beijing Olympics will mainly be remembered for the deeds of just two young men - a 22-year-old sprinter from Trelawny, Jamaica and a 23-year-old swimmer from Baltimore, USA.

In the space of a few weeks here in China, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps transformed themselves from notable names within their own sports into global sporting superstars.

One was fuelled by chicken nuggets and yams, the other by fried egg and cheese sandwiches with extra mayo, but on track and in water, they each made the impossible seem easy.

Continue reading "Goodnight Beijing "

Now we can stop holding our collective breaths, the longest swimming programme in Olympic Games history has ended and there was drama and incident from the first event, the men's 400 metres Individual Medley, to the last the men's 10k Open Water race.

What has pleased me most is that people who wouldn't normally cross the road to watch a swimming event have become enthralled by something that captured my attention 15 years ago at the European Championships in Sheffield.

The talk in the BBC office was all about Phelps and Adlington, how to pronounce Cavic and how do they swim that fast over 10 kilometres?

Continue reading "Swimming success story"


Britain have won 39 medals at this Olympics - but have any of them been harder earned than David Davies' silver in the men's 10k open water race?

And is there a more deserving champion than the guy who beat him to gold?

Welshman Davies said he felt "violated" after his swim - he was kicked in the mouth, swum over, and had his goggles knocked off in the course of the one hour 51mins 51second race.

Wednesday's women's winner Russian Larisa Ilchenko said it had felt like "boxing not swimming".

And in today's race, pundit and former Olympic bronze medallist Steve Parry said it looked like Davies was having to practice the art of taekwondo at the same time as well as executing his strokes.

By the end of it he was tacking like Ben Ainslie as he flailed up the final 300m, his wayward line in part responsible for losing him his seven-metre lead to eventual winner Dutchman Maartin van der Weijden.


Continue reading "Marathon swim delivers another sensational finish - and inspirational champion"


A 13-year-old Michael Phelps was acting up after practice one day - squirting the girls with water bottles, splashing people, generally playing the goat. Bob Bowman, head coach at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, was unimpressed and called Phelps over to reprimand him.

"You shouldn't even have the energy to clown around," said Bowman, miffed that his session hadn't worked as intended. "That was the hardest practice we've ever done. Why aren't you tired?"

"I don't get tired," replied Phelps.

At that moment Bowman realised he had something special on his hands, and if he was going to unlock this kid's full potential he was going to have to become a much better coach. Trying to tire out Phelps would become his mission.

Continue reading "The secret to being like Mike"

Shunyi Lake

Open water swimming took its bow at the Olympics today - and what a debut it was!

The 10k race had everything from controversy to a fantastic sprint finish - and two more medals for Britain thanks to Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten.

I really had my eyes opened to what a tough physical battle it is.

The girls were getting bashed and kicked in the face - and by no means always by accident.

There was a lot of physical contact - but that made it all the more fascinating to watch. It was clear to me that Cassie Patten was pulled back by the German swimmer Angela Maurer with about 150m to go.

Continue reading "Was this swimming or boxing?"

Hi folks,

What a golden weekend for Team GB at the Olympics, unfortunately for me though I couldn't add to the 17 medals won by Britain in Beijing over the last few days.

I'm gutted I couldn't at least emulate my Athens bronze four years ago but swimming two world-class 1500m times in 36 hours was too much of an ask.

My qualifying swim of 14 minutes 14 minutes 46.11 seconds was me at the top of my game.

Continue reading "Thankfully I was Open to 10k war of attrition"

The swimming at the Water Cube may have come to an end, but that doesn't mean the swimming programme is over in Beijing.

For the first time in the Olympic programme, Open Water will be featured, or Marathon swimming as it is being called by some.

In the world championships there are three disciplines for men and women, the 5k, 10k, and 25k races. The IOC has opted for the middle one which is good news for British competitors involved.

Continue reading "All set for Open Water"

National Aquatics Centre, Beijing

Last night I watched Usain Bolt do the most remarkable thing I have ever witnessed.

I, like many around me, could only laugh when I saw Bolt's new 100m world record flash up on the scoreboard. I was laughing at the words-fail-me joy of it all.

This morning, I have just seen Michael Phelps claim his eighth gold medal of these Games and 14th of his career.

So which performance was better?

Continue reading "Let the great G.O.A.T debate commence! "

Ok, I'll admit it, my crystal ball had clouded over when I predicted that Michael Phelps would not, could not, achieve eight gold medals in Beijing.

He had some scares along the way, notably the 4x100 metres freestyle relay, when he was indebted to Jason Lezak for keeping him on track, and to the timing device for putting Phelps ahead of Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly. But, however you dress it up, seven world records and one Olympic record just takes your breath away.

Continue reading "Phelps, Mellouli and the best swimmers in Europe"

Ling Long Pagoda, Beijing

Let's start with the numbers.

She's 19 years old.

This was her first Olympics.

On Monday she became the first woman to win a British swimming gold for 48 years.

On Saturday she became the first British swimmer to win two golds at the same Games for 100 years (the last was Henry Taylor in 1908).

She is only the third British athlete since World War Two to win two golds at the same Games (the others being Kelly Holmes, 800m/1500m 2004 and Richard Meade, three-day eventing, 1972). [1308 BST UPDATE: And now Chris Hoy keirin/men's sprint, 2008].

Rebecca Adlington won her second gold in the 800m final with a winning margin of more than six seconds - in a new world-record time of 8 minutes 14.1 seconds.

It was a record which had stood for 19 years, the oldest record in the swimming book and she broke it by more than two seconds.

But let's look at some less sexy numbers. The ones that really matter, the real story behind Rebecca Adlington's double gold in the pool.

Continue reading "From Miss Nobody to greatest British swimmer for 100 years "

It doesn't happen very often that Michael Phelps gets reduced to second place in the headlines, especially after equalling Mark Spitz's seven gold medals from Munich in 1972.

But Rebecca Adlington's gold medal performance in the 800m freestyle was certainly the most astonishing swim I have ever seen from a Briton, and, arguably one of the greatest swims of all time.

To break Janet Evans's 1989 world record by over two seconds was immense in itself, but the margin between the 19-year-old from Mansfield and the rest was nothing short of astonishing.

What's more it couldn't have happened to a more popular member of the GB team. This teenager has charisma, is delightfully free of clich├ęs and has a winning smile that lights up any sporting event.

Continue reading "A great day for swimming"

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