As we pen this latest despatch from the land of Olympia we are hunched over our table, bracing ourselves for the avalanche of must-see denouments and prospective medals set to sweep us away on this middle Saturday of the Games. So far London can lay claim only to a share in Emma Pooley's road cycling silver, but over the next few hours the medal chances come thick and fast, not least in the rowing where almost every final features a British boat with a Londoner on board.
Hester Goodsell is cast in the role of warm up act as she finishes her lightweight double sculls campagin in the 'B' final at 7:30am (all times BST). But then it's medal races all the way with single sculler Alan Campbell from Richmond leading off at 8:50. Campbell qualified second from his semi-final and claims to be positively thriving on the heat and humidity at Shunyi. At 9:10 it's the turn of Louisa Reeve, basking in the surprise success of the women's pair who many thought were predominantly here to gain valuable experience ahead of London 2012. They're not expected to gain a podium finish, but then again they weren't supposed to reach the final. Forty minutes later Athens 2004 bronze medallist Elise Laverick gets her shot at glory in the double sculls in what is almost certainly the third and last Olympics for the trainee solicitor who once studied music at the Guildhall School. At 10:10 the men's double scullers, Putney's Matthew Wells, also in his third Games, and Stephen Rowbotham from Shepherds Bush in his first, look to fire on all cylinders for what they feel would be the only (and best) time this season. The duo won world bronze in 2006 and then came fourth at that level last year so have a realistic chance of taking another honour here.
Finally, at half past ten, the men's four try to step out of the shadow of Redgrave and Pinsent with the help of Steve Williams, a member of the victorious Athens 2004 crew. Royal Navy lieutenant Peter Reed, known as "Commander" to his team-mates, and Andy Triggs-Hodge, both from Chiswick, were successful as a pair before joining the four and will be hoping to hand on the thread of pre-eminence in this popular event lit by their illustrious predecessors to those tasked with carrying on the tradition at the London games.
In the velodrome, another Athens 2004 rowing medallist, Carshalton born Rebecca Romero who claimed a silver in the quadruple sculls, begins her bid to gain a second Olympic medal in a completely different sport in an event at which she is the reigning world champion. Echoing Emma Pooley's move to cycling from running during convalscence, Romero went the same route after retiring from rowing when approached by the admirably pro-active British cycling setup. Her first round ride in the women's individual event goes off at five past ten.
By the seaside at Qingdou our sailors, limited to only one race each yesterday courtesy of the backlog and continuing dull conditions, will be hoping for a brisker day in many senses. Windsurfer Bryony Shaw's frustrations were exacerbated by her disqualification for jumping the start, though the setback still leaves her in fifth place. Three races are optimistically scheduled for most classes today including the multihull Tornado where Will Howden's first race put him in sixth while the keelboat Star of Andrew Simpson dropped from third to seventh in the final run of his race. Today's action is once again scheduled to take place between 6am and lunchtime whenever conditions appear good enough.
The women's hockey team play a crucial match against Japan at 1:30pm, a whole hour earlier than the start time we've become used to this week. The men made hard work of their encounter with South Africa who had conceded an average of seven and a half goals in their first two games, but a late goal eventually sealed a valuable 2-0 win to keep them in contention for a semi-final place.
Even with all this on offer many observers will be almost hypnotically attracted to events at the Bird's Nest where a trio of women sprinters from the capital lead things off for us in the first round of the 100m at 3:50am, with the second round to come at 1:35pm. Blackheath and Bromley Harrier Montell Douglas was born in Lewisham, is a European 100m silver medallist at Under 23 level and is also a qualified silver service waitress. Jeanette Kwakye, who hails from Walthamstow, finished fourth in the 60m at last year's European Indoor championships and Laura Turner of Northolt, a talented wind musician in her spare time, reached the semi-final of last year's outdoor world championship 100m.
Between 5 and 6am Christine Ohuruogu, the current 400m world champion, should make short work of her first round opponents at the end of today's first athletics session, while Marilyn Okoro, impressive in yesterday's 800m heats, is one of the first competitors in action in the second session starting at around 12:30. Our lone survivor in the men's 100m, Tyrone Edgar, goes at five past one and, should he make it through, will bask in the glow of probably the single most watched event of every Games, the 100m final, scheduled for half past three.
Apologies to showjumper Enfield born Ben Maher who we missed beginning his first Olympic campaign in Hong Kong yesterday. He rode supremely well to pick up only one time fault leaving himself in an excellent position for the rest of the event.
Picture via fiverlocker's Flickr stream.