As the sun began to rise on a scorching morning in Tokyo, one of Britain’s most popular athletes, Jonny Brownlee, stepped onto the podium rocking his first gold as a newborn after have finally put an end to his Olympic spell. As it was happening, Team GB’s biggest athletics star Dina Asher-Smith broke down after revealing her secret heartache. In between, another day of roller coaster drama unfolded again.
But once the dust settled, Britain proudly celebrated two more gold medals in triathlon and swimming, two more bronze medals in boxing and windsurfing, with the alluring promise of more riches to come.
The GB team now sit sixth in the medal table, with eight gold medals, and a short distance from the Russian Olympic Committee in fourth and the Australians in fifth – especially with several track cycling and boxing titles. , traditionally strong events, to be won in the final. the week.
Speaking to the Observer, British Olympic Association President Hugh Robertson said he was delighted the young British side are doing so well, especially given the administrative complications and lack of competitive preparation for most of them.
“So when you consider these three things, I’m absolutely thrilled, not only with the way the team played, but also with the way the athletes embraced the whole Tokyo experience,” he said. declared.
“I think we are exactly where we want to be. The medal forecast is always a bit of a minefield – it’s a bit like the weather forecast. You are generally correct, but some of the individual elements are much more delicate. So in terms of levels, we’re up in some areas and down in others, but it’s been a fantastic first week.
Surely there was no warmer sight on Saturday than seeing Brownlee, in his last Olympic race, finally emerge from the shadow of his brother Alistair. Brownlee, who won triathlon bronze and silver respectively behind his brother in 2012 and 2016, secured a full set of medals after inspiring the British mixed triathlon relay team made up of himself, Jess Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee to victory over USA by 14 seconds. And then he cried out: “The Olympics? Ended. It is absolutely unbelievable. This is my third Olympics and I finally have gold.
“It’s also the very first mixed team relay in triathlon, so we made history there too,” he added. “It crowned my Olympic career in an incredible way.”
His brother Alistair, who cheered him on, later revealed that Jonny never touched his gold medals because he believed it would bring him bad luck.
Later on a golden morning in Tokyo, Team GB swimmers won the first Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay in record time – with the quartet of Kathleen Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin delivering a dominant display to come home in the lead. from China and Australia.
British swimmers have now won four gold medals in Tokyo – the most in a single Olympics since 1908 – and with the men’s 4x100m medley relay coming overnight, a historic fifth title could yet to be obtained.
But there was pain too, especially as Asher-Smith relayed his secret injuries. Before tearing her hamstrings five weeks ago, the 25-year-old believed she was ready and ready to become the first British woman to win Olympic gold in the 100m. Instead, she had to think it over, after failing to qualify for the final. “It’s been a crazy, intense and heartbreaking time,” she said. “I was in the shape of my life. Without a doubt. I’m not trying to sound arrogant, but this is where I was.
After being diagnosed with a disturbed hamstring, Asher-Smith said she “ate it all – KFC, McDonald’s – because I thought I didn’t care.” However, a second opinion led her to see a German doctor, who managed to get her back to working order just 10 days ago.
“Obviously, I’m so disappointed not to make the final,” she added. “That’s all I’ve trained for the past two years. But the last two weeks of my life have been absolutely crazy.
However, there was better news on the water as Emma Wilson won bronze in the women’s RS: X to become only the second British Olympic windsurfing medalist after Bryony Shaw’s bronze in 2008.
Wilson’s mother Penny Way has competed in two Olympics, finishing sixth and seventh at the 1992 and 1996 Games in Barcelona and Atlanta. These accomplishments led her local council to rename the Christchurch Windsurf Club Road in her honor.
And then Wilson said, “My mom was a big influence, but there are so many other people too, my coaches and my training partners. This medal is not just for me but for everyone.
Elsewhere, British Army gunner Karriss Artingstall won Team GB’s first confirmed boxing medal with bronze in the women’s featherweight division, after losing to Japan’s Sena Irie on a split decision.
Pat McCormack, Ben Whittaker and Lauren Price are already assured of Olympic medals, while other boxers are also looking to reach the podium.
Looking back on a breathtaking seventh day of action, Robertson praised the new mixed relay formats, saying: “I think today is all that is great about the Olympics. . It’s a mixed event with male and female athletes contributing equally, and fantastic results for the GB team.
“I am delighted that the sport has taken over and that the athletes have been so positive. “