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Friday, August 3, 2012

Victoria Pendleton, Gong Jinjie, Guo Shuang - disqualified to give Germans the Gold

One cannot explain fate – sometimes, it chases people as Germans would have found out in the manner in which Gold medal came after them at  Pringle !

The dominance of Chinese is so high that they seem to be winning everywhere.  At London Olympic velodrome,  Chinese pair Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang sped round like lightning in the qualifying and first round, notching world best times of 32.447 and 32.422 seconds. They were slower in the final but it was still good enough to beat Germany.  The pair - Guo Shuang and Gong Jinjie finished a victory lap and started celebrating but soon it turned to dismay when they found out they were not Olympic champions.

The Gold medal went to Germans in the Olympic women's track cycling team sprint on Thursday after original winners China were relegated to second for a takeover infringement having earlier broken two world records.  Earlier, Hosts and medal hopefuls Britain had been disqualified in the first round for another illegal changeover.

Thus it was Gold for Germans and China relegated to Silver amid angry remonstrations between their team and International Cycling Union officials.  Australia took bronze by beating Ukraine and by the time of the medals ceremony, the Chinese duo had calmed down and accepted the warm applause of the slightly bemused crowd before Germany's Gold medals were handed out.

The posture girl of Britain Victoria Pendleton had erred in taking the lead over too son.  The Britain team were not afforded the luxury of being dropped a position as Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish were disqualified altogether in the first round. We're talking about one hundredth of a second of a mistake there," Pendleton told reporters.

For the Chinese pair of Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang it was dismay as they had beat the record twice in the qualifying and first rounds and beat all their opponents, still the Gold remained elusive.  Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish of Britain were the first to improve on the previous mark of 32.549 set by Germany in April at the world championships, clocking 32.526 seconds over the two laps of the Velodrome in qualifying.  Their performance ignited loud applause and whistles in the stands packed with fans holding Union Jacks, but the British fans were quickly silenced by the Chinese pairing of Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang. The Chinese produced an even faster effort on the track made of Siberian pine wood to establish a world record of 32.447 seconds. They then posted another record of 32.422 to qualify for the final.

During the two-lap race, the leadoff rider is required to give way to the second rider at a certain point on the track.  Victoria Pendleton was a trice too early and the team was disqualified. The crowd of 6,000 fans booed when it was announced the British team had been relegated. Victoria Pendleton is set to retire after the London Games and was bidding to add new medals to the Olympic sprint title she won in Beijing. 

The team sprint is the most explosive event of the Olympic track program. The women's competition has been introduced this year.  Unlike the team pursuit, where riders have to ride in a perfect line, the sprint is all about speed and power. Each rider completes a lap at the front as fast as possible, and medals can be won or lost in a thousand of a second.  At the Olympics, each nation sets a qualifying time to decide the fastest teams. The top eight nations ride against each other in the first round with the fastest two teams reaching the final and the slower two competing for the bronze medal.

Now the German pair of  Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte  are the champions and took the Gold.  The Chinese pair after celebrating their win were quickly disqualified for a lane change in the final. The Chinese rushed to the officials table, next to the paddocks in the center of the track, and shook their heads in disbelief while looking at the amended results on a computer screen. Vogel and Welte checked a computer screen several times and erupted in laughter and happiness as they were proclaimed winners in a time of 32.798 seconds.

Guo, a former world champion in the track cycling event of keirin, and Gong ended with the silver medal and managed a smile on the podium, but their eyes were still red with tears as the Germans waved to the crowd.

Pringles is a brand of potato- and wheat-based snacks originally developed by Procter & Gamble. Pringles are sold in more than 140 countries including India.  North of Olympic Park, an arena looms in the distance, its roof curved in an odd and yet unmistakable slope. The roof reaches its highest point at either end and sags in the middle, until it forms what architects call a truncated hyperbolic paraboloid.  The podium at the Herne Hill Velodrome, the last remaining competition site from the 1948 Games. Translated into less technical terms, the arena, the Olympic Velodrome, is shaped like a Pringles potato chip.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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