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Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 14:41 UK

Rower James secures Olympic gold

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Video - Britain strike gold in coxless four

Tom James began Wales' weekend Olympic medal bid in style as the rowing ace guided the coxless four crew to gold.

The 24-year-old secured Wales' second gold at the Beijing Games as he helped Team GB's flagship boat to victory.

Swimmer David Davies bids to better his Olympic bronze from 2004 in Sunday's 1500m freestyle final (0305 BST).

Rower Tom Lucy goes for gold in the eight-man boat on Sunday (1030 BST) as cyclist Geraint Thomas and triathlete Helen Tucker start their Olympic bid.

Welshman Thomas is part of Great Britain's Team Pursuit squad that is favourite to add Olympic gold to their back-to-back World Championship titles in the Velodrome.

Edward Clancy, Paul Manning, Bradley Wiggins and 21-year-old Cardiff star Thomas begin their qualifying on Sunday (0300 BST) before Monday's hugely-anticipated finale (1115 BST).

Tucker, meanwhile, is hoping to cap an incredible 2008 by adding Olympic glory to her World Championship victory secured in Vancouver earlier this year.

Bridgend athlete Tucker will line-up alongside GB team-mate Hollie Avil in Monday's final (0300 BST).

Lucy, 20, is the youngest man in Team GB's rowing squad and his eight-man crew are tipped for a medal in his debut Olympic Games.

The man from Monmouth will certainly draw inspiration from James' heroics.

The Wrexham rowing hero won Wales its first Olympic rowing medal since Albert Gladstone, son of former British Prime Minister William Gladstone, struck gold at the Olympic Games in London 100 years ago.

James' victory follows Nicole Cooke's golden ride in the Olympic road race - and this is the first Olympics since the 1920 Antwerp Games where two separate Welsh athletes have won gold.

"This could become Wales' best Olympics," hailed James. "And I'm proud to be a part of it."

James and his team-mates Andy Hodge, Peter Reed and Steve Williams came from three-quarters of a length down to beat Australia in Saturday's thrilling final as Britain won the Olympic title in this event for the third successive Games.

"I can't believe it," said James.

"I haven't won any international races before but we knew beforehand we can do it.

"A lot of people wanted to knock us down and no-one made the race easy for us but we had so much belief.


"We were obviously behind but I started to think we might do it when I looked across to the Aussies with 100m to go.

"I can't believe how happy I am, no-one can ever take that away from me. But I've got no energy left!"

The Team GB four only raced their first-choice line-up for the first time at the start of the Olympic regatta as James and Hodge suffered back injuries in the build-up.

Williams is the only remaining member of the coxless four - led by Matthew Pinsent - that triumphed in Athens in 2004.

And he admitted: "We had a very tough four or five months.

"Our coach Jurgen Grobler kept telling us no one could beat us but sometimes it was hard to believe him."

But James said: "I always thought I'd get back into the boat for Beijing.

"We didn't have much time to prepare but we've done it! Now all I want to do is chill out!"

Wales won four golds in 1920 as Paulo Radmilovic and Christopher Jones were part of the victorious water polo team while Cecil Griffiths and John Ainsworth-Davies were in the 4x400m team that won gold.

see also
British four win thrilling gold
16 Aug 08 |  Rowing
David Davies Olympic blog
13 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Lucy helps GB eight reach final
11 Aug 08 |  Rowing
Wales' Olympic roll of honour
13 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Welsh schedule for Beijing 2008
31 Jul 08 |  Olympics

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