24 August 2008

The Queen has sent a message of congratulations to the British Olympic team which celebrated its 19th gold medal yesterday, won by James DeGale in the middleweight boxing.

She said she had followed the endeavours of the British and Commonwealth athletes who took part in Beijing “with great interest and admiration”. The Queen added: “The golden triumphs of the present British team can only serve as further inspiration to those who will be working hard over the next four years to make the London Games a shining example of Olympic success.”

Yesterday’s British medal haul saw Tim Brabants win a bronze in the 500m kayak and Sarah Stevenson getting a bronze in the taekwondo. It brought the tally to 19 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze – a total of 47 which put Britain in fourth place in the medal table.

DeGale, 22, defeated the Cuban Emilio Correa Bayeaux, who was penalised for biting the Briton in the opening round. DeGale seemed to take strength from the extraordinary collective confidence that has lifted Team GB ever since Nicole Cook braved torrential rain up towards the Great Wall on her road bike to gain the first British gold on the opening Sunday. Correa was docked two points for the biting and lost 16-14.

Brabants, the paddling doctor from Walton-on-Thames, can add his Kayak bronze to the gold he won over 1,000 metres on Friday. Stevenson had a rollercoaster day which saw her controversially eliminated at the quarter-final stage and then later declared the victor after the British team protested against the judges’ decision. The bronze she went on to take with a 5-1 victory over Egypt’s Noha Abd Rabo, was Britain’s first ever taekwondo Olympic medal.

At 25, with three Olympics behind her, Stevenson will have hopes of more success in 2012. So, too, will 31-year-old Brabants, who says the 18 months he will now take to continue his medical career will rest his body, to return even stronger in London.

By then, 14-year-old diver Tom Daley, from Plymouth, will be all of 18 and must be a good bet to go closer than the honourable seventh he clocked up in the 10-metre platform final yesterday.

British runners suffered a frustrating evening. In the women’s 1,500 metres, Lisa Dobriskey, from Ashford, Kent, narrowly missed bronze. In the 4×400-metre relay, the men’s team came fourth and in the women’s race, the British four came in fifth. Today, Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, was in the Bird’s Nest stadium for the Olympic flag handover. Having lost third place in the medal table to the Russians only yesterday, putting them behind us in 2012 must now be a minimum ambition.

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