Nicole Cooke

Britain's Nicole Cooke (R) celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold with a time of 3 hours, 32 minutes and 24 seconds in the women's road race cycling event for the the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games near the Great Wall in Juyongguan, 78 kms north of Beijing, on August 10, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s 15 Years Since Nicole Cooke Earned Olympic Glory

sportswales

By Hannah Blackwell

It’s 15 years to the day since Nicole Cooke won Great Britain’s first medal of the Beijing Olympics when she took gold in the women’s road race in 2008.

The Welsh rider overcame the competition and heavy rain to cross the line first at the end of the 126km route from the city centre to a section of the Great Wall of China.

It was the first Olympic gold medal won by a British female cyclist, the country’s 200th Olympic gold across all sports and the first by a Welsh athlete since 1972.

Cooke, 25, had stated her intentions when she formed a breakaway with four other riders 6km from the finish.

She went on to beat Sweden’s Emma Johansson and Tatiana Guderza of Italy in a sprint for the finish. Her winning time was three hours 32 minutes 24 seconds.

“It’s just like a dream come true, and I hope everyone one can share in this dream,” said Cooke, who took up competitive cycling at the age of 11 and had finished fifth in Athens in 2004.

Cooke went on to win World Championship gold later in 2008, becoming the first racer to achieve the world and Olympic double in the same year.

She also won the Tour de France twice in her career and retired in 2013.

Coke set the standards in Welsh women’s cycling and Emma Finucane confirmed the future s shining brightly after claiming her maiden world title in Glasgow on Wednesday night.

The 20-year-old announced herself as one of the sport’s breakout stars on the track with a sparkling performance in the sprint to add yet another gold to Great Britain’s medal tally in Glasgow.

The Carmarthen rider was part of the British team who claimed team sprint silver before crashing out in her keirin quarter-final last week, but it was third time lucky as she required only two of the three match sprints to oust Germany’s Lea Freidrich.

“Everything happens for a reason and I think this was meant to happen for me. It’s super special, I can’t believe it,” said an ecstatic Finucane, who admitted she had channelled the frustration from her keirin misery into fuel for gold.

“I used it as motivation to give everything and show everyone I could do it. Sprinting over three days is really long so you really have to focus for a long time, but I definitely set my mindset. I knew I could.”

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