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Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 15:26 UK

Olympic great Davies hails Cooke

Nicole Cooke looks overjoyed with Olympic gold
Nicole Cooke is overjoyed with Olympic gold

Welsh Olympic legend Lynn Davies has hailed Nicole Cooke's road-race cycling gold as one of the nation's greatest sporting achievements.

The 1964 Tokyo Games long jump gold medallist said: "It's up there with any sporting achievement I can think of.

"But words can't describe the strength of her achievement.

"Wales has had an incredible sporting year with Joe Calzaghe, the Welsh rugby Grand Slam, Cardiff City in the FA Cup Final and now Olympic gold."

Davies also praised Cooke's determination and was able to compare conditions on the day he struck gold to the 25-year-old's triumph.

He said: "A 75-mile road race in those conditions of driving rain, lightning and with the Swede and Italian alongside her, who were favourites with her, and then to out-kick them in the last 200m to win the Olympic gold for Wales was incredible .

"I also won on a rainy Sunday and as I was watching I thought about what it must have been like for people back home in Wales, listening to the fact I'd won Olympic gold in Tokyo in very similar wind and rain and horrendous conditions.

"Listening to that I was quite emotional.

"This moment will change her whole life. She will be recognised for the rest of her life for winning the very pinnacle of sporting achievement.

"Those memories live with you forever and people will recall this in 30 years, the fact that Nicole Cooke, a 25-year-old from South Wales, beat the rest of the world at the Beijing Games.

"It's very hard to sum up what it means. She's based herself in Italy and trained with professional cyclists.

It's fantastic for Wales and will lift the rest of the team

Lynn Davies
"She's one of the most dedicated sportspeople I know and you have to be that to be a cyclist and particularly to be an endurance cyclist.

"She's had knee surgery and what incredible strength of character and mental toughness to come back and win the Olympic title in Beijing."

Davies says Cooke's gold is great news for Wales and that her triumph will instil confidence in her Great Britain team-mates.

"It's fantastic for Wales and will lift the rest of the team," said Davies. "They'll be thinking 'If Nicole can do it, we can do it' and the cycling team promises to win more golds.

"She really has made a huge contribution, not just to Wales and herself, but to the rest of the team in Beijing."


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