With each of these posts that goes by we become increasingly aware that Wandsworth is, in fact, the epicentre of London's Olympic effort. Windsurfer Bryony Shaw was born there, Andy Murray lives there (occasionally) and Judoka (yup, we just learned that one, too) Winston Gordon was born there and trains at the local Lightning club, though home is now Tooting. Gordon, who, like boxer James DeGale fights at middleweight (90kg limit) was on the verge of a medal at Athens in 2004, but lost points stepping off the mat in his semi-final and less than ten minutes later was defeated by the Dutch defending champion in the bronze medal contest. He did, however, become Commonwealth champion in 2002 and was a bronze medallist at the European Championships two years ago as well as at this year's Prague world cup. His fascination with the martial art began when, aged 13, he couldn't escape from a demonstration hold his then PE teacher, and current Director of World Class Programmes for British judo, Margaret Hicks, put him in. Millwall FC eventually passed on the opportunity to take him on their books, he won a British Schools Judo trophy, became a black belt at 16 and the path to an international career opened up. Now 31 and uncertain about staying the course for 2012, Gordon recently told South West magazine:
I ‘d love to get a medal in Beijing. The 90KG category is open, so as long as I am fit, ready and mentally strong I can beat anybody on my day.
The competition starts at 5am (all times BST) and just four and a half hours later Gordon will know whether or not that elusive Olympic honour is his.
A man who could tell Winston a thing or two about the Olympic last chance saloon is fencer Richard Kruse who, weakened by an injury layoff, originally failed to qualify for Beijing by a solitary point before weeks later being granted a reprieve when the Chinese didn't need the entire generous allocation of wild cards Olympic hosts receive for fencing events. Kruse won silver in the 2006 European Championships, the first major Championship medal in the discipline for a Briton in 40 years, has beaten the world number two this year and reached the last eight in Athens. He starts his quest to go just that little bit further around 3am, by 6am he'll know if he's reached the last four and those final bouts will be played out between 11am and 1:30pm.
The aforementioned Mr Murray, having redeemed himself with a late flourish in round one of the men's tennis doubles, doesn't find life getting any easier today as late morning should find him and brother Jamie taking to the court against French duo Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra, who just happened to win Wimbledon together last year. The men's hockey team, triumphant against Pakistan on Monday, will also find the opposition stiff in their second match against the Netherlands, who are ranked third in the world, at 2pm. At least captain Ben Hawes, recently returned from a few years club play in hockey-mad Holland, should be very familiar with their opponents. Emma Pooley, having helped Nicole Cook overcome the field to gain her glorious gold at the weekend, will also know a lot about hers, but won't see much of them on one lap round the same road circuit in her challenge for individual glory in the women's time trial between 4:30 and 6am.
The rowing continues apace with the last berths in the weekend's medal races going fast. Single sculler Alan Campbell (8:50am), double sculls pair Stephen Rowbotham and Matthew Wells (9:30am) and the men's four (9:50 am) all feature in semi-finals while the heavily Londonised women's eight's repechage at 10:40 is a semi-final in all but name. Yesterday both Louisa Reeve and Hester Goodsell performed well enough respectively in their one and two oared pairs repechages to progress, Goodsell to the semis and Reeve to the final.
Bryony Shaw dropped back to fifth in the windsurfing, but is still handily placed with a long way to go, while shotgun specialist Steve Scott was sadly unable to reach the final of his event. We doubt, however, that anyone outside their immediate families and close friends was more chuffed than us to see the women's hockey team's spirited fightback to claim a draw having been 2-0 down to the well-fancied Argentinians. Captain Kate Walsh tried to play down to us recently the significance of their 4-2 victory over the same team earlier this year, but it looks like it was a good marker after all. Hopefully the result will well and truly draw a line under the disappointing loss to Germany.
Picture of part of the London 1908 Olympic mural in the Westway underpass near the BBC at White City via graham's Flickr stream.