Simply the best! Just a blur of perfection as Wiggins rides into history on day of glory
22:50 GMT, 1 August 2012
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It was beautiful, so beautiful. It
was brilliant, quite, quite brilliant. And it was British. Uniquely,
insanely, just joyously British.
There are points of reference in our
sporting history — Steve Redgrave in a boat, Sebastian Coe on the
track, but being a home Olympics, somehow this had more.
Do you know the film The Italian Job It was like that.
Glittering career: Bradley Wiggins shows off his gold medal with Tony Martin (left) and Chris Froome
What a feeling: Bradley Wiggins powers towards the finish line at the individual time trial
There is a perfect moment when the heist has come off and the news has reached home shores. Its criminal mastermind, Mr Bridger, played with impeccable bearing by Noel Coward, walks from the plushly appointed cell to the acclaim of his fellow prison inmates. As one, they bang their metal mugs on the balcony, in a showing of national pride. Rat-tat, rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat-tat: England.
The same rhythm, the same sentiment echoed around the grounds of Hampton Court Palace yesterday, except this time it was all for one man. The crowd beat their tattoo on the boards lining the last leg of his route. Rat-tat, rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat-tat: Wiggins.
Bradley Wiggins had brought home, not the first gold medal for Great Britain at these Games, but almost certainly the most memorable. Whatever happens from here it will be hard to top this.
And he's off: Bradley Wiggins starts his bid for time trial glory at Hampton Court Palace
What a setting: The time trial started and finished at Hampton Court Palace
Home support: British fans lined the streets to cheer on Bradley Wiggins in the time trial
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Here was a stunning display of strength,
speed and endurance, a performance of pure domination, Wiggins the
winner by a street, quite literally considering this was a road race. He
would not look out of place in The Italian Job, either. Not with those
He threw his head back on the podium and raised his arms in the air. His
medal total now makes him the most decorated Olympian in British
We have already had one debate this summer about whether
Wiggins is the greatest sportsman this country has produced; now there
is sure to be another. This time, however, he has the facts to make the
case, as much as individual opinions.
This was Wiggins’s fourth Olympic gold medal, to add to a silver and two
bronze. No British athlete has won seven. Redgrave claimed six. The
greatest Increasingly, the tag is irresistible.
Fittingly, the medallists at Hampton Court Palace were given seats on
purple and gold thrones. They were supposed to imply majesty, but looked
more like a reminder of David Beckham’s wedding. They did not seem
quite Wiggins’s style. Instead of resting, he set off back down the
course to find his wife, Cath, and his family, passing the rows of
spectators who had cheered him home. He had a lot of thank-yous to say.
Team spirit: Bradley Wiggins' fellow British rider Chris Froome
That's my boy: Bradley Wiggins gets a hug from his wife Cath after winning the time trial
Peace: Wiggins celebrates his time-trial triumph
Wiggins adores cycling, possesses a passion for it that has endured
since childhood. To see his sport, so long at the margins, now at the
heart of British life must fill his heart with joy. The feeling is
After so many near misses this week, so many stumbles and frustrations,
yesterday’s gold medals were emphatic. This time Great Britain’s coach
did not end up dangling over a cliff, the gold tantalisingly out of
reach. It was not like the ending of that film at all.
Rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover had triumphed in fine style at
Eton Dorney in the morning, and Wiggins won his 27.3-mile race by a
quite incredible 42 seconds.
Time it. Look at your watch and let that hand tick past. Imagine if the
riders had started together and you were standing at the finishing line
waiting for silver medallist Tony Martin of Germany to come through.
Some delay, isn’t it
Banished are the thoughts that this could be an anti-climatic Olympics
for Great Britain. If it is believed that one success inspires another,
then Wiggins is the nation’s catalyst. Already a hero as the first
winner of the Tour de France, his presence and better weather than
predicted brought out some people who risked considerably more than a
sportsman’s injury for the best vantage point on Hampton Court Road.
They clambered on to roofs and small balconies to cheer him down the
final straight and he did not disappoint. It had already been announced
to roars that Wiggins had closed the physical gap on Martin — not his
time differential, which was already well inside — to 800 metres and he
was fast approaching.
Sealed with a kiss: Bradley Wiggins celebrates his triumph
Feelgood factor: Fans watching on screens at the Olympic park celebrate as Bradley Wiggins wins
Martin came through, better than Chris Froome’s time to take silver, at
worst. Then, almost immediately, Wiggins arrived. Legs pumping, body
perfectly still, a slim frame on a slim frame.
Impossibly fast, given
the screaming resistance a time-trialist will feel from every muscle by
this stage in the race, he was a blur of Olympic perfection.
If the Queen has time to go parachuting with James Bond, she could have
done worse than to drop in here at that moment, sword at the ready.
Arise Sir Bradley Why even wait How comfortably that inevitability
will sit with a chap who was more thrilled to get a congratulatory text
from Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr than a royal blessing when he won the
Tour de France, it is hard to say.
Wiggins still goes out with a target on the front of his cycling helmet,
a nod to his status as King of the Mods. It is part of his charm, a
British fixation that few beyond these shores will understand. How to
explain to a European disciple of road cycling that your other bike is a
Vespa Not that he could go much faster on one, mind you.
Watching him, it is possible to forget that only last Saturday he
remained at the front of a strength-sapping peloton to try to get his
team-mate Mark Cavendish a medal in the road race, or that he had spent
his summer traversing France as Europe’s most successful cyclist.
‘We’ve not seen the best of him yet,’ said Sean Yates, one of his
coaches, but how can that be What can he do to out-strip the pure
emotion of yesterday Even Wiggins seemed confused.
‘I don’t think my sporting career will ever top this now,’ he said.
‘That’s it. It will never, ever get better. Incredible. It had to be
gold today or nothing. What’s the point of seven medals if they’re not
the right colour So, mainly it’s about the four golds.’ And then,
without missing a beat: ‘Now I have to go to Rio and go for five.’
That is what it is like, being Britain’s greatest Olympian, that is what
drives a man: an insatiable thirst, a quite incomprehensible desire to
achieve, and keep achieving, no matter how much it hurts.
For never forget that it hurts. It hurts a lot. It may look like fun, it
may be a moment we think we all share, but only one of us has broken
the pain barrier to cross that line. And do it again. And again. And one
more time. And then some more. And keep doing it until he has flown
past the markers set by every competitor in British Olympic history. /08/01/article-2182103-1453EE64000005DC-881_306x432.jpg” width=”306″ height=”432″ alt=”Take the weight off: Bradley Wiggins on his throne after the race” class=”blkBorder” />
Arise Sir Bradley Olympic and Tour de France hero Wiggins is now a 1/2 shot to be knighted
Mechanical failure: Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez Gil needed a new bike just yards from the start