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Come back safely! Glover"s wish as partner Stanning heads out to Afghanistan

Come back safely! Glover's wish as partner Stanning heads out to Afghanistan

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UPDATED:

00:46 GMT, 23 December 2012

The tears flowed when Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won Team GB's first gold medal of the London Olympics.

But it will be emotional for another reason when our first champion women's rowing partnership is forced apart by a different British calling.

Duty calls: Helen Glover resumes training - without friend Heather Stanning

Duty calls: Helen Glover resumes training – without friend Heather Stanning

For Glover is certain her tears will flow again when 27-year-old Stanning sets off for what is intended to be a year's break from the rowing lake to head for Afghanistan and do her duty at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province while serving as a captain in the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery.

Not only will Glover, 26, be fretting over the welfare of the woman who has become her close friend these past two years, she will also be concerned for the future of the partnership that was to win the London 2012 women's pairs gold.

'Heather is like a sister to me and I'll be worrying until the day she returns,' said Glover in a break during gruelling solo sessions at British rowing HQ at the Pinsent-Redgrave Lake.

Don't mess with her: Captain Heather Stanning off to Afghanistan

Don't mess with her: Captain Heather Stanning off to Afghanistan

'I've never had a family member going away as part of the armed forces on what is potentially a dangerous mission, but this feels like it.

'I'll miss her. I'm very proud of her and I'll probably cry the last time I see her, which will be very soon. I'm sure she'll be fine, of course, but I'll still worry about her and be relieved when she's back home safe.

'I also know that while we're apart for a year, our rivals will be training as pairs. Heather and I want to defend our title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but with her unable to practise with me until effectively 2014, we've handed the others a year's head start.'

Striking gold made both women switch plans dramatically.

Golden girls: Glover (left) and Heather Stanning pose with their gold medals

Golden girls: Glover (left) and Heather Stanning pose with their gold medals

Originally, Stanning envisaged London as both the beginning and end of her Olympic career, then it would be back to full-time Army commitments.

Glover, who had started to row only in 2008 after she joined the 'Sporting Giants' programme, could not see beyond 2012.

But after they were paired in 2010, their sights shifted after winning two silver medals in back-to-back world championships.

'Months before the Games, Heather and I talked about her returning to the Army and serving in Afghanistan because we didn't want it to become an issue in the final lead-up,' added Glover.

'She had no intention of carrying on in the sport, but as we got better and started winning medals – and then realising we stood a good chance of winning in London – she told me she was having too much fun to stop.

'I hadn't looked beyond August 1 and the Olympic final, but I realised afterwards that we were still a relatively new pair who could improve and I wanted to defend my title in Rio. So it's decided, assuming our coaches select us as a pair in 2016.'

Which makes 2013 a difficult prospect for Glover, both from a personal and professional viewpoint as she resumes her gruelling training schedule.

Double trouble: Glover (right) and Stanning on their way to victory

Double trouble: Glover (right) and Stanning on their way to victory

She added: 'Unusually for a pair, Heather and I are very close friends who have never fallen out. From a professional point of view I haven't needed to say anything to her about what being away means in terms of our partnership.

'I know she's been questioning herself about it enough. But I know how strong a person she is and how much she believes in what she's doing.

'It's not a decision she's taken lightly. Heather is confident she can spend a year with the Army, train on a rowing machine in Camp Bastion and then resume our partnership a year behind our rivals.

'That's how much she believes in what she is doing and in us as a pair.'

In the meantime, Glover has no idea how her year will pan out, with whom and in what.

Oarsome: Helen Glover and rowing partner Capt Heather Stanning, sporting her gold medal, after their success at London 2012

Oarsome: Helen Glover and rowing partner Capt Heather Stanning, sporting her gold medal, after their success at London 2012

'It's up to [women's chief coach] Paul Thompson to decide what to do with me. I'll have the challenge of a new partner in the pairs and aiming for the 2013 world championships in South Korea. Or I might even be in a different boat.

'It will keep me fresh, but I definitely want to get back with Heather after that, whatever happens.

'When Heather and I were teamed up in 2010, we just clicked. We produced times much faster than we should have and it was all on raw speed, not technique. That's what was so exciting. We knew that with technique we could become so much better.

'To be the first British female rowers ever to win an Olympic gold, the first by Team GB in 2012, was a huge bonus. Whatever else happens in the future, that can never be taken away from us.'

The race of our lives: Britain"s rowing four know they must defeat Aussies if they want to live up to the golden days

The race of our lives: Britain's rowing four know they must defeat Aussies if they want to live up to the golden days

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UPDATED:

21:12 GMT, 28 July 2012

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Pete Reed and his British rowing team-mates were watching a motivational film in London’s Olympic Village last week when a familiar face topped by his usual mop of unruly blond hair came into view with a typically bluff message.

‘Can we beat Australia’ asked London’s mayor, Boris Johnson. ‘Yes, I think you can.’

It was a moment, says Reed, that struck a nerve. ‘It really hit home with me personally,’ he said. ‘This will be the biggest race of our lives and we have a big job to do against Australia.’

Reed knows that if he, Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James and Alex Gregory are to continue the gold medal traditions of Britain’s coxless four and of men such as Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, they will, in all probability, be duelling with an Australian crew for a gold medal at Eton Dorney next Saturday.

Aussie bashers: Triggs Hodge, James, Gregory and Reed know they have a golden tradition to maintain

Aussie bashers: Triggs Hodge, James,
Gregory and Reed know they have a golden tradition to maintain

It is a prospect Reed, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and the man who will make the strategy calls from the No 2 seat, is relishing. ‘We love to hate each other and we love taking on the Aussies. It brings out something special in all of us,’ he said.

‘We have the right people to maintain the tradition of the coxless four and we will thrive on the pressure. Being part of history and, hopefully, being part of history in the making hasn’t passed us by.’

History, though, will have a seat in the Australian boat as well. For the crew who pose the biggest threat to Reed’s men, and who beat the British team in a World Cup race only weeks ago, also have links to an illustrious past. Drew Ginn, 37 and seeking a fourth Olympic gold medal, is back in the boat where he won acclaim as a member of the Oarsome Foursome in Atlanta in 1996.

Ginn admits to making a reckless introduction to rowing in Britain at the Henley Regatta in the summer after his first Olympic gold. ‘I got into trouble when we dropped into a pub for a beer after qualifying for the final of the eights,’ he said. ‘I was wearing an Australia blazer and some guy called me a convict. I’d never heard that before.

‘He had on a University of London blazer, I remember. When he kept on, I head-butted him. Then I asked him, “How are you going at the cricket” I didn’t know the score but, apparently, we were slaughtering the Poms. It went down marvellously well!’

On the water: Great Britain prepare for their likely showdown with Australia at Eton Dorney

On the water: Great Britain prepare for their likely showdown with Australia at Eton Dorney

Ginn tells the story without bravado, yet he does not deny that the sporting rivalry between the nations, fostered through the decades, will be a pertinent factor at London 2012. ‘Both sides like to stir the pot,’ said Ginn, whose wife, Melanie, and children, Kyra and Jasper, will be cheering from the shore.

‘Sure, we’d like to beat the Poms on home soil. But in Australia you don’t bag someone unless you have respect for them. I like the idea of there being some rivalry between us, in a respectful way. I want to be part of the greatest coxless four race in history; that’s what motivates me.

‘If you are part of the greatest race, and you produce your greatest performance, then whatever happens is whatever happens. If a little needling spurs people on, why not’

Ginn missed the Sydney Olympics, forever remembered in Britain for Redgrave’s fifth gold medal, through a back injury that needed surgery. But through his close friendship with James Tomkins he returned to the sport to win gold medals in Australia’s pair in Athens, then at Beijing, where he rowed the semi-final and final with a ruptured disc that required a second operation.

‘At the Sydney Games I met Steve on the beach at Bondi about to go for a dip,’ said Ginn. ‘No one there would have known that he was a five-times Olympic champion. Later, the full story of Steve’s diabetes came out and put his achievement into perspective, how hard it had been. I never forgot Pinsent hugging him in the boat after they’d won. It was an inspiring moment.’

Best of enemies: England and Australia

Undoubtedly, Ginn is behind the resurgence of Australia’s coxless four in the past 12 months, with Josh Dunkley-Smith likened to Pinsent in strength and size.

‘Josh is a horse,’ said Ginn. ‘We know that the British team will be inspired by competing at home. But the flipside is that it brings on a lot of pressure. The Australian rowing team didn’t win a single gold in Sydney. The Olympics tend to be a harsh mistress and she’ll make you pay a price. I have been fortunate to come out on the right side of her but that’s partially because I have processed the moment, stressed about it, become excited about it and stressed about it again. If I haven’t raced the race 100,000 times in my mind, I have done myself a disservice.’

Like all Australian athletes in London, he will also have reminded himself of the pain inflicted on the national psyche by Britain finishing ahead of them in the Beijing medal table. Reed acknowledged the threat the Australians pose, illustrated in Munich last month, when he said: ‘We know the Aussies are quick.’

Yet there is a sense of calm, an outward appearance of strong resolve within a British crew rejuvenated by a four-week training camp, split evenly between time at altitude in Austria and at sea level in Portugal. They ceased playing board games some time ago.

Golden boys: Reed, James, Andy Hodge and Steve Williams won in Beijing

Golden boys: Reed, James, Andy Hodge and Steve Williams won in Beijing

‘All of us hate losing, so it’s not worth risking any bad blood!’ said Reed, who met his German girlfriend, Frauke Oltmanns, when she managed the team hotel in Portugal. ‘Hodgy reads a lot, so does Alex, who is also fascinated by animals, while TJ is a cool thinker who plays guitar. I’m into photography; it’s a nice mix and the four of us get on well.’

Reed, who celebrated his 31st birthday with his crew-mates on the day the Olympic cauldron was lit, knows the scale of the mission ahead when the British team are primed to excel like never before.

‘Beijing was special for Hodgy, TJ and myself,’ he said. ‘But we have to take this chance of winning at a home Olympics. I back myself, and the others, to have more in reserve than the Australians.

‘We have talked through the race, thought of every possible situation when we have been out on the water paddling. We have made sure we can communicate without speaking if the noise is too loud. I have visualised over and over what can happen.’

And does the last reel in your mind show you winning

‘Always,’ said Reed.

London 2012 Olympics planner

The ultimate guide to the London 2012 Olympics: Sportsmail's day-by-day planner

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UPDATED:

08:37 GMT, 27 July 2012

Welcome to Sportsmail's day-by-day London 2012 Olympic Games planner. This is the place to find out what's going on during the morning, afternoon and evening every day of the games, as well as which Brits can win – and when.

Day 1: Saturday, July 28

Who could win gold for GB Mark Cavendish (cycling), Hannah Miley (swimming)

With your breakfast: There should be plenty of medals for our rowing team and Helen Glover and Heather Stanning are among the favourites in the women's pair. They begin in the heats at 9.30am.

Olympics 2012

Late morning: This could be Britain's first gold medal. Mark Cavendish, hopefully still fresh after his Tour de France exploits, is the favourite for the cycling road race. It runs from 10am till 3.30pm.

Over lunch: There are few more stunning backdrops than the London skyline behind the equestrian events at Greenwich. The British team, including Zara Phillips, should do well and the gold medal eventing hopefuls get under way in the dressage from 10am.

Afternoon delight: He came so close 20 days ago but can Andy Murray go one better at Wimbledon and win gold The action in singles and doubles gets under way from 11.30am.

Late-night feast: The master v the pretender as Michael Phelps (14 Olympic gold medals) takes on fellow American Ryan Lochte (just the three) in the 400m individual medley final at the Aquatics Centre at 7.30pm.

Brit of the day: Hannah Miley (swimming): Scotland's Hannah Miley is a world championship silver medallist in the 400m individual medley and wants to go one better. The final is at 8.09pm.

Three more Brits to watch: Adcock and Bankier (badminton) – from 8.30am, Anthony Ogogo (middleweight boxing) – from 3pm, Women's football v Cameroon – 5.15pm

Golden girl: Hannah Miley could win a medal

Golden girl: Hannah Miley could win a medal

Day 2: Sunday, July 29

Who could win gold for GB Rebecca Adlington (swimming)

With your breakfast: Alison Williamson is competing in her sixth Olympics – the archer won bronze in Athens in 2004 – and her bid for another medal begins at 9am in the women's team event, medal matches are from 5.30pm.

Late morning: Four years ago, Nicole Cooke won Britain's first gold medal. This time she might be helping fellow Brit Lizzie Armitstead cross the line first in the women's road race from noon. The pair haven't always got on but have patched things up for gold.

Over lunch: Ben Ainslie is already one of our greatest Olympians. Today he starts the quest for his fourth gold medal. The 35-year-old is the firm favourite in the Finn from noon.

Afternoon delight: The USA basketball team is already jam-packed with some of the most famous names in sport. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant's first test is at 2.30pm against France.

Late-night feast: She was the golden girl of the pool in 2008, winning the 400m and 800m freestyle. Now Rebecca Adlington wants more. It's the 400m first up for the 23-year-old. Expect a close race with the main challenge from Italy's Federica Pellegrini at 8.15pm.

Brits of the day: Women's hockey team: Four years ago they finished sixth – now they are favourite for gold. With Sportsmail columnist Alex Danson up front, they should win first up against Japan. (KO: 7pm).

Three more Brits: Georgina Geikie (shooting, 25m pistol) – 11.45am, Fred Evans (welterweight boxing) – from 3pm, Men's football v UAE – 7.45pm

Striker: Alex Danson from the women's hockey team

Striker: Alex Danson from the women's hockey team

Day 3: Monday, July 30

Who could win gold for GB Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield (diving)

With your breakfast: They start early in the badminton at Wembley Arena, with matches from 8.30am. Londoner Rajiv Ouseph will play in the men's singles while Scotland's Susan Egelstaff competes in the women's.

Late morning: Scotland's Katherine Grainger has endured Olympic heartbreak in the past three Games, winning silver each time. Now she and double sculls partner Anna Watkins are the favourites. Heats at 10.20am.

Over lunch: Starting out as a gymnast Zoe Smith switched to weightlifting when she was 12. Now 18, she broke six British records at the Olympic trials in May and starts her quest for a medal in the 58kg class at 12.30pm.

Afternoon delight: He's been arguably the most talked about Brit at the Olympics. Now it's about beating the Chinese and winning medals. Tom Daley and partner Pete Waterfield go in the synchronised 10m platform at 3pm.

Late-night feast: Gemma Spofforth almost quit swimming a couple of years ago. Tonight she hopes to go for gold in the 100m backstroke final (7.49pm). Liam Tancock (100m backstroke final, 7.56pm)is also set to be in action.

Brits of the day: Women's basketball: They are ranked a lowly 49 in the world but Britain's team will be desperate to get out of Group B. A win over world No 11 Canada is a big ask but you never know. Start 8pm.

Three more Brits: Men's hockey v Argentina – 7pm, Women's water polo v Russia – 6.20pm, Andrew Selby (flyweight boxing) – 1.30pm

Leap: Julie Page from the women's basketball team (right)

Leap: Julie Page from the women's basketball team (right)

Day 4: Tuesday, July 31

Who could win gold for GB Team eventing, David Florence (canoe)

With your breakfast: After winning four competitions on the spin, judo player Gemma Howell is a big medal hope. Her first bout will be at 9.30am. The final is 4pm.

Late morning: The Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips could be an Olympic champion in the final part of the team eventing – the showjumping from 10.30am.

Over lunch: Britain's David Florence has a great chance of winning gold in the canoe slalom. Semi-finals are at 1.30pm.

Afternoon delight: Tom Daley's best friend Tonia Couch is in the synchronised 10m platform with partner Sarah Barrow at 3pm.

Late-night feast: After silver medals at the past two Games, Brazil's women's football team want gold. They face Team GB at Wembley at 7.45pm.

Brit of the day: Rebecca Tunney (women's gymnastics team): Watch out for 15-year-old Tunney in the gymnastics team final at 4.30pm, she is the youngest member of Team GB.

Three more Brits: Richard Kruse (fencing, foil) – 10.30am start, final at 7.40pm, Women's hockey v Korea – 4pm, Alan Campbell (rowing, single sculls semi-final) – 9.30am

Young gun: Rebecca Tunney is Team GB's youngest

Young gun: Rebecca Tunney is Team GB's youngest

Day 5: Wednesday, August 1

Who could win gold for GB Helen Glover and Heather Stanning (women's pair rowing), Men's eight (rowing), Bradley Wiggins (cycling)

With your breakfast: Helen Glover and Heather Stanning could be the first Britons to win gold in rowing's women's pair. Final at 10.10am.

Late morning: George Nash and Will Satch compete in their first Olympics as a pair in the 11am rowing semi-final.

Over lunch: Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins is seeking his gold medal hat-trick, this time in the men's road time trial. Starts 2.15pm.

Afternoon delight: Daniel Purvis, three-time national champion, has high hopes in the artistic gymnastics at 4.30pm.

Late-night feast: Ellen Gandy is set to be in the 200m butterfly final at 8.09pm.

Brit of the day: Fran Halsall (swimming): Fran Halsall could win three gold medals if all goes well. Her 100m freestyle semi-final is at 7.38pm.

Three more Brits: Men's eight (rowing final) – 10.30am, Women's water polo v Australia – 7.40pm, Men's football v Uruguay – 7.45pm

Triple: Fran Halsall could take three golds

Triple: Fran Halsall could take three golds

Day 6: Thursday, August 2

Who could win gold for GB Fran Halsall (swimming), Men's and women's team sprint (cycling), Men's lightweight four (rowing)

With your breakfast: Richard Faulds won gold in double trap shooting in 2000. Standing in his way is team-mate Peter Wilson. Starts at 9am, continues until 4pm.

Late morning: The lightweight four in rowing are out to beat the Australians at 10am.

Over lunch: David Florence and Richard Hounslow can win a rare canoe slalom medal from 1.30pm.

Afternoon delight: Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton lead the respective team sprints from 4pm.

Late-night feast: Fran Halsall in the 100m freestyle final at 8.34pm. B

Brit of the day: Lizzie Neave (kayak): She won bronze at last year's Euro Championships and hopes to be in for another medal at 3.57pm.

Three more Brits: Oliver and Folkard (archery) – 9am, Men's team pursuit (cycling) – 4.42pm, Men's basketball v Spain – 8pm

On the up: Lizzie Neave won bronze at the 2011 Euro Championships

On the up: Lizzie Neave won bronze at the 2011 Euro Championships

Day 7: Friday, August 3

Who could win gold for GB Men's team pursuit (cycling), Rebecca Adlington (swimming), women's pair (rowing)

With your breakfast: The face of the Games, Jessica Ennis, begins the heptathlon with the 100m hurdles at 10.05am.

Late morning: If Kath Grainger and Anna Watkins have come through the double sculls heats watch their bid for gold at 10.30am.

Over lunch: Ennis continues in the high jump, starting at 11.15am.

Afternoon delight: Victoria Pendleton bids for her least likely medal in cycling's keirin at 4pm.

Late-night feast: Rebecca Adlington defends her 800metres freestyle crown at 7.45pm.

Brit of the day: Dai Greene (athletics): The world 400m hurdles champion should easily win his 11.15am heat.

Three more Brits: Fran Halsall (50m freestyle) – 8pm, Larry Godfrey (archery) – 9am, Bankier and Adcock (badminton finals) – from 9am

If all goes well: Dai Greene should win his heat

If all goes well: Dai Greene should win his heat

Day 8: Saturday, August 4

Who could win gold for GB Jess Ennis, Mo Farah, Women's team pursuit (cycling), Men's four (rowing), Helen Jenkins (triathlon)

With your breakfast: Briton Helen Jenkins, who has won world championship and a multitude of other titles, will start as favourite for the triathlon – a 1.5km swim in the Serpentine, followed by cycling 40km around London's landmarks and, finally, a 10km run. Should keep you occupied for two-and-a-half hours, from 9am.

Late morning: Usain Bolt and Yohan 'the Beast' Blake, Jamaican training partners, make their first appearances in the Olympic Stadium and begin the most anticipated rivalry of the Games. But the 100m first round at 12.30pm should be a stroll in the Park for them and all the other serious contenders, including fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell and American Justin Gatlin.

Over lunch: Could we see a repeat of the Wimbledon's women's singles final today with Serena Williams lifting Olympic gold to emulate the achievement of sister Venus in Sydney 12 years ago Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka will be among those hoping to stop the American on the new-look colourful Centre Court from noon.

Afternoon delight: A youthful British team of Laura Trott, 19, Joanna Rowsell, 21 and Dani King, 23, set a world record to win the world cycling team pursuit title earlier this year. But the Australia quartet has also set a world record in 2012 and will be serious rivals for the first Olympic gold in this new event. Their moment of destiny should be in the finals at 5.42pm.

Late-night feast: Could we have a golden British trio to cap off Super Saturday Fran Halsall is set for the 50m freestyle final at 7.30pm, poster girl Jessica Ennis completes the heptathlon with the 800m at 8.35pm and then Mo Farah goes in the 10,000metres at 9.15pm. It could be the best day yet for Britain.

Brit of the day: Kat Driscoll (gymnastics): Kat Driscoll is not only Britain's No 1 trampolinist, she also has a very good chance of a medal. The 26-year-old from Kent comes in under the radar but is a world silver medallist. Qualification is at 2pm with the final at 3.26pm.

Three more Brits: Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson (long jump final) – 7.55pm, Holly Bleasdale (pole vault) – 10.20am, Men's football quarter-finals (we hope) – from midday

Enlarge

Olympic venues guide

Day 9: Sunday, August 5

Who could win gold for GB Louis Smith (gymnastics) Ben Ainslie (sailing), Andy Murray (tennis)

With your breakfast: A leisurely start, seeing as it's Sunday: the women's marathon starts in The Mall at 11am, with the winner expected to pass Buckingham Palace and cross the line at around 1.15pm. Is Paula Radcliffe fit enough to end her Olympic hoodoo at last

Late morning: The men's singles gold-medal match starts at Wimbledon at noon. Andy Murray came so close in the all-white of The Championships earlier this month and will be looking to go one better in the red, white and blue of Team GB. But Roger Federer may stand in his way once again on Centre Court.

Over lunch: London 2012 welcomes the first women's boxers to the Olympic Games from 1.30pm. Britain's ground-breaking trio of Nicola Adams, Natasha Jonas and Savannah Marshall are all in with a chance of winning a historic first medal in the ring.

Afternoon delight: Split your time between the North Greenwich Arena, where there are gold medals to be won in the men's floor exercises (2pm) and the pommel horse (3.41pm), and Weymouth. Britain's Ben Ainslie goes for gold in the Finn from 2pm.

Late-night feast: At 9.50pm, it's the one everyone's been waiting for and the hottest ticket in town: the men's 100m final. Can the Americans stop a Jamaican 1-2-3 Can Yohan Blake repeat his victory over Usain Bolt in the Jamaican Olympic trials

Brit of the day: Christine Ohuruogu (athletics): The defending Olympic 400m champion was born just around the corner from the Olympic Park and has an uncanny knack of peaking at the right time for major championships. While Jess Ennis has been the poster girl of the Games, Ohuruogu has been quite happily preparing under the radar. The women's 400m final is at 9.10pm.

Three more Brits: Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (Star class sailing) – 1pm, Yamile Aldama (triple jump) – 7.35pm, Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison (synchronised swimming) – 3pm

Peak: Christine Ohuruogu (right) always seems to come good at the right moment

Peak: Christine Ohuruogu (right) always seems to come good at the right moment

Day 10: Monday, August 6

Who could win gold for GB Dai Greene (athletics), men's sprint (cycling)

With your breakfast: ‘Plastic Brit’ Tiffany Porter gets her campaign underway at 10.05am in the 100m hurdles.

Late morning: Britain’s David Florence, a silver medallist in Beijing, begins his bid for gold in the men’s canoe single (C1). The heats are at 9.54am and the semi-finals at 11.14am.

Over lunch: The equestrian team jumping final, including Team GB’s Nick Skelton, begins at 2pm. This will be his sixth Olympics.

Afternoon delight: Beth Tweddle, 27, may be almost a decade older than some of her competitors but the Briton is the world champion on the uneven bars. Her final is at 2.50pm, while cyclist Jason Kenny bids for gold in the men’s track sprint final at 5.43pm.

Late-night feast: World champion and Sportsmail columnist Dai Greene bids to win gold on the track in the men’s 400m hurdles final at 8.45pm.

Brit of the day: Paul Goodison (sailing): Goodison defends his title in the Laser class at 2pm.

Three more Brits: Holly Bleasdale (pole vault) — 7pm, Men’s basketball v China — 4.45pm, Women’s hockey v Holland — 7pm

Current holder: Paul Goodison will defend his title

Current holder: Paul Goodison will defend his title

Day 11: Tuesday, August 7

Who could win gold for GB Victoria Pendelton and Laura Trott (cycling), Team dressage (equestrian), Alistair Brownlee (triathlon)

With your breakfast: Sir Chris Hoy begins his bid for gold in the men’s keirin (the one where the sprinters all cluster for position behind a motorbike) from 10am.

Late morning: The men’s triathlon starts at 11.30am, with British brothers Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee strongly fancied.

Over lunch: British windsurfers Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw go for gold at 1pm and 2pm.

Afternoon delight: A cycling bonanza with Sir Chris Hoy in the men’s keirin final (5.50pm), Laura Trott in the women’s omnium (4.53pm) and Victoria Pendleton in the women’s sprint (5.26pm).

Late-night feast: Britain’s Robbie Grabarz will hope to feature in the men’s high jump final at 7pm.

Brits of the day: GB dressage team (equestrian)Team GB go in the dressage final at Greenwich Park from 10am.

Three more Brits: Phillips Idowu (triple jump heats) — from 10.45am, Men’s hockey v Spain — 7pm, Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison (synchronised swimming) — 3pm

Biggest stage: Charlotte Dujardin could be in the dressage final

Biggest stage: Charlotte Dujardin could be in the dressage final

Day 12: Wednesday, August 8

Who could win gold for GB Perri Shakes-Drayton (athletics), Tim Brabants (canoe)

With your breakfast: Dr Tim Brabants defends his kayak single 1,000m title at 9.30am and medal hopeful Mo Farah runs in a 5,000m heat at 10.45am.

Late morning: New world record-holder American Ashton Eaton bids for gold in the men’s decathlon. The 100m starts at (10.10am), long jump (11.10am) and shot put (12.50pm).

Over lunch: The sailing 49er skiff medal race, featuring Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, starts at 1pm.

Afternoon delight: Shanaze Reade, one of Sportsmail’s Magnificent Seven, can put the memories of crashing in Beijing to bed as the BMX begins at 3pm.

Late-night feast: A very good night on the track with the finals of the women’s 400m hurdles (8.45pm), women’s 200m (9pm) and men’s 110m hurdles (9.15pm).

Brit of the day: Perri Shakes-Drayton (athletics): The 400m hurdler clocked a massive personal best recently. The final is at 8.45pm.

Three more Brits: Nick Skelton (equestrian jumping final) — from noon, Monique Gladding (diving) — 7pm, Women’s hockey semi-final —3.30pm

Top form: Perri Shakes-Drayton set a huge personal best recently

Top form: Perri Shakes-Drayton set a huge personal best recently

Day 13: Thursday, August 9

Who could win gold for GB Savannah Marshall and Nicola Adams (boxing), Keri-Anne Payne (swimming)

With your breakfast: World silver medallist Jade Jones begins her bid for taekwondo gold in the -57kg class at 9.00am.

Late morning: Sprint canoeist Rachel Cawthorn is in the K1 500m final at 10.08am.

Over lunch: All eyes on Greenwich Park from 12.30pm where Britain have an embarrassment of riches in equestrian dressage.

Afternoon delight: Boxing finals that should include Nicola Adams (flyweight, 4.30pm), Natasha Jones (lightweight, 4.45pm), and Savannah Marshall (middleweight, 5.15pm).

Late-night feast: Ashton Eaton could be crowned decathlon No 1 after the 1,500m at 9.20pm.

Brit of the day: Phillips Idowu (athletics): We will know at last whether Idowu’s fit when the triple jump final starts at 7.20pm.

Three more Brits: Keri-Anne Payne (open-water swimming) — from noon, Goldie Sayers (javelin) — 9pm, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell (470 sailing) — from 1pm

Up in the air: Phillips Idowu's fitness is being hotly debated

Up in the air: Phillips Idowu's fitness is being hotly debated

Day 14: Friday, August 10

Who could win gold for GB Shanaze Reade (BMX), women's hockey

With your breakfast: Can Lutalo Muhammad shrug off the controversy around his selection over world No 1 Aaron Cook and start his -80kg taekwondo campaign with a win at 9.15am World and European champion Sarah Stevenson has her first bout in the -67kg at 9am. Medal fights are later, from 8pm.

Late morning: Former K1 200m world champion Ed McKeever and K2 200m European champions Liam Heath and Jon Schofield go in the canoe heats from 9.30am with semi-finals from noon.

Over lunch: A veritable banquet on offer as four of Britain’s male boxers could be in semi-final action. Win and it is silver at least; lose and a bronze is for sure. Bantamweight Luke Campbell, light welterweight Tom Stalker and middleweight Anthony Ogogo should fight from 2pm onwards.

Afternoon delight: Threetime world BMX champion Shanaze Reade should race in the semi-finals at the Olympic Park from 3pm, then the final at 4.30pm.

Late-night feast: The basketball tournament gets serious for Kobe, LeBron and the rest of the all-stars on the USA team. They no doubt will be show boating during the group stages but the day’s second semi-final at 9pm should prove a sterner test for USA.

Brit of the day: Hannah England (athletics): Dame Kelly Holmes’s protege was off the pace on her recent return to competition from an achilles injury but she won silver at the world championships last year in the 1500m and should be a threat if fit. The final is at 8.55pm.

Three more Brits: Tom Daley (diving, 10m platform) — from 7pm, Daniel Fogg (open-water swimming) — from noon, Women’s hockey final (hopefully!) — 8pm

Potential: If fit, Hannah England could be a threat

Potential: If fit, Hannah England could be a threat

Day 15: Saturday, August 11

Who could win gold for GB Mo Farah (athletics), Ed McKeever (canoe), Tom Stalker (boxing), Tom Daley (diving), Sarah Stevenson (taekwondo)

With your breakfast: The oddest sport at the Games begins at 8.45am, as men in the modern pentathlon fence each other in the first of five events. Later they swim 200m freestyle, showjump and finish with a combined shoot and run. Brits Nick Woodbridge and Sam Weale are the ones to watch.

Late morning: Tom Daley should be in the 10m individual platform semi-final between 10am-noon, where he will get a good look at Chinese arch rival Qiu Bo before the final at 8.30pm.

Over lunch: Britain should be represented in the women's Elliott 6m final by the self-named Match Play Girls – a trio of sailors in one boat. The race starts at noon and lasts six hours, so put your feet up and hope Lucy Macgregor, her sister Kate, and Annie Lush can ride the Weymouth waves to victory.

Afternoon delight: Whoever is playing, you will want to watch the men's football gold medal match at Wembley from 3pm. It could be Ryan Giggs leading Team GB to glory or the talented samba boys of Brazil dancing their way to the top of the podium. Who would want to miss either

Late-night feast: /07/26/article-2179484-1427B4C1000005DC-355_634x405.jpg” width=”634″ height=”405″ alt=”Punchy: Anthony Ogogo (left) is one to watch” class=”blkBorder” />

Punchy: Anthony Ogogo (left) is one to watch

Day 16: Sunday August 12

Who could win gold for GB Mhairi Spence (modern penthathlon), Andrew Selby (boxing)

With your breakfast: How about a bit of freestyle wrestling with your cornflakes The men in the 66kg and 96kg classes begin their competitions at 8.30am, with finals from 12.45pm.

Late morning: Kenyans and Ethiopians will rule London's streets for a little over two hours when the marathon starts at 11am. Such is their strength, the two nations lay claim to 29 of the fastest 30 marathon athletes this year.

Over lunch: Our rhythmic gymnastics team hit the headlines earlier this year when they won an appeal against their exclusion from the Games, claiming qualification criteria had not been made clear enough. The group will want to prove a point by making the final, which runs from 1.30pm until 3pm.

Afternoon delight: It could be a boxing gold rush if all goes to plan for the team led by Rob McCracken. Medal prospects Andrew Selby (flyweight), Josh Taylor (lightweight), Fred Evans (welterweight) and Anthony Joshua (super heavyweight) will want to be in fights for gold from 1.30pm until 3.30pm.

Late-night feast: The final medals of London 2012 will be won in the women's modern pentathlon, which starts at 8am but doesn't end until 6.20pm. World champion Mhairi Spence and world bronze medallist Samantha Murray will be looking to finish with a flourish.

Brits of the day: Men's water polo team: Team GB have a men’s side at the Olympics for the first time since 1956 and they have targeted making it out of the group stage. Should they manage that they will likely be in the seventh-place play-off at 10.20am.

Three more Brits: Liam Killeen (mountain bike) — from 1.30pm, Scott Overall (marathon) from 11am, Lee Merrien (marathon) — from 11am

Leader: Mhairi Spence is the current world champion

Leader: Mhairi Spence is the current world champion

London 2012: Grainger and Watkins hope close friendship can help them triumph

First mates! Grainger and Watkins hope close friendship can help them triumph

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 25 July 2012

Olympics 2012

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins
teamed up more than two years ago as rowers in GB's double sculls boat
and have been unbeaten since, winning at the World Championships for
the past two seasons.

They are arguably the rowing team's firmest hope of a gold medal, and among the strongest contenders in any sport for GB.

Theirs would be a first rowing gold
for British women, which they are hoping to claim next Friday. Outside
the boat Watkins, 29, originally from Leek, Staffordshire, is married
while Aberdonian Grainger, 36, is single. But until the Olympics finish
they are the most significant partner in each other's life . . .

Making a splash: Watkins (left) and Grainger relax in Henley

Making a splash: Watkins (left) and Grainger relax in Henley

Grainger: I suppose we are a bit like a married couple . . .

Watkins: Yes, one that's been together for 20 years! Actually there are a lot of similarities and at the moment I see more of Katherine than I do of my husband. We are working towards a common goal, we need each other and it's in our interests to look after each other's physical and mental wellbeing.

Grainger: The good thing is we aren't just in this because we need to be but because we want to be. I think you could do this if you weren't close in a personal sense, but I do think it's a stronger partnership because we get on well.

Watkins: Katherine is the first person I turn to if I am having a hard time with something. She knows me the best of anyone in the rowing squad and I know she wants the best for me.

Grainger: The nature of what we do is that there are a lot of ups and downs, with things like injuries, selections or things happening away from the boat. It's nice that I've got the experience which means others will come and see me for a chat, although I don't know if I'm always much help!

Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger

Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger

Watkins: When I joined the team Katherine was already the top person, already a world champion and I was in a four for the GB Under 23s while she was preparing for Athens (in 2004). /07/25/article-2178973-0D345A8C000005DC-930_468x327.jpg” width=”468″ height=”327″ alt=”Golden girls: Watkins and Grainger” class=”blkBorder” />

Watkins: We've never got as far as a fallout, have we We've had good days, and bad days when we've said what do we need to fix Is it one of us or both of us And then there's Paul (Thompson, the coach). If there's a problem one corner of the triangle will sort it out.

Grainger: Technically we make a good team because we are a similar height, similar build, we have a similar length of stroke and we have a similar power output – we are both at the top end of the team on the physical side. Once you've got all those things matched up then the boat should go well, but there's an X-factor that makes a boat go really fast.

Watkins: From the start we've had this understanding of the mental side and technical side. I can shout something in the middle of the race that might sound really vague like 'feel the hull' and Katherine will know what I mean, even if nobody else would.

Grainger: We've done two World Championships and six World Cups together and woken up in the same room every time, so we know a bit of what to expect when we wake up on the morning of the Olympic final. Of course there will be massive nerves and adrenaline, but there's something really comforting about knowing the person that you are about to go out and tackle this thing with, you know you aren't facing the world alone. At that point it will feel like the two of us against the world. We won't need to say anything, it will just be a look at each other.

Watkins: It's more of a knowing look, the eye contact. We will both see it in each other's eyes, there won't be the need to discuss how we're feeling.

Lewis Hamilton leads F1"s open championship

Hamilton happy to be leading the way in competitive season

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UPDATED:

23:20 GMT, 11 June 2012

With seven different winners from the first seven races, the battle for the 2012 Formula One drivers' championship remains wide open.

All a far cry from last year, when, after yet another win for Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in round eight of the championship in Valencia, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton threw in the towel and conceded the title to the German.

Hamilton held onto his towel after registering his first victory of the year in the Canadian Grand Prix. He needed it after jumping into the rowing lake in celebration.

Head over heels: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win by jumping into a rowing lake

Head over heels: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win by jumping into a rowing lake

The win means Hamilton heads to Valencia topping the championship table, delighted to be narrowly ahead of two giants of the sport in Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

And if the title race did indeed turn out to be a battle between two double world champions and one striving to match their achievement

'That would be an amazing tussle,' conceded Hamilton who is desperate to add the drivers' title he won in 2008. 'I have an incredible amount of respect for the both of them.

'The two strongest drivers in Formula One at present, two double world champions, incredible drivers. To be in the mix with them gives me great pleasure.'

On top of the pile: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win in Canada

On top of the pile: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win in Canada

The other thing that gave Hamilton great pleasure in Montreal, other than his stunning win, was the ability to drive his car as fast as it would go as McLaren finally adopted an aggressive strategy to suit his driving style perfectly.

'I drove the a**** off it, particularly in that last stint,' said Hamilton. 'I was flat out when I was trying to catch them (Vettel and Alonso). Being able to take a bit more of a risk, that is what I love. It is probably when I am at my best.'

As for Hamilton's teammate, Jenson Button, finding a way to get back to his best is proving to be a perplexing and highly frustrating mystery.

Button has picked up just two points from the last four races, a run which is reminiscent of his dark days battling down the order while driving for Honda.

Leading the way: Hamilton is first in the driver's championship after seven races

Leading the way: Hamilton is first in the driver's championship after seven races

Did he ever contemplate such difficulties while driving for a team with McLaren's heritage in Formula One 'No, not really, and this is a real weird one,' said Button after coming home 16th at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

'I don't understand it. I'm not taking a holiday right now. I'm driving my heart out, but it just isn't working – something isn't working for me.

'Being lapped by your team-mate – he obviously won the race and did an amazing job – but it's a strange one more than being disappointed. It's not like we made mistakes or I crashed. I was just slow and I finished 16th.

'Is the championship over or not I don't know. I think we can still have some great races; we just have to sort ourselves out. I'm not giving up, but I'm not thinking about the championship anyway.

'When you've had a race like this you don't think about the championship, you think about solving your issues and getting back to the form where you expect to be fighting for wins.'

'When you've had a race like this you don't think about the championship, you think about solving your issues and getting back to the form where you expect to be fighting for wins.'

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Rowley Douglas appeals over non-selections for rowing team

Douglas appeals over non-selections for Team GB rowing team

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 19 April 2012

Rowley Douglas has formally appealed to British Rowing over his non-selection as cox in the Eight boat.

Appeal: Rowley Douglas

Appeal: Rowley Douglas

Sportsmail understands he has faxed over the relevant papers to the team’s current training base in northern Italy. Under British Rowing rules, a three-person panel must now be appointed to take evidence in what becomes a quasi-legal process.

Should they find in Douglas’ favour, a retrial — which will spill into next month — is likely, meaning preparations for the Games could be disrupted.

Douglas believes he should replace Phelan Hill, who has been picked for next month’s World Cup event.