Britain's Nicole Cooke weathers storm to take Olympic gold
Great Britain’s Nicole Cooke didn’t raise her arms in glory after uncorking a winning sprint at the end of Sunday’s rain soaked Olympic road race. The blonde Welshwoman, 25, instead let fly with an ear piercing shriek that echoed throughout the Juyongguan Pass area of China’s Great Wall.
“I just came over the line and there was so much in me; there were so many emotions that all came out at once,” said Cooke after taking the biggest win of her already decorated career. “I was not composed enough to take my hands off the handlebars. So much came out because that’s just the person I am.”
Cooke’s winning kick came against four other riders who were part of a breakaway that rode away in waning minutes of the 126.4km road race. Emma Johansson of Sweden crossed the line in second, several bike lengths behind the Brit, with Tatiana Guderzo of Italy winning bronze. Christine Soeder of Austria, who led out the bunch, had to settle for fourth with Linda Serup of Denmark in fifth.
The victory marked milestones for Cooke, British cycling and the country of Wales. With her win Cooke became Britain’s first-ever female to claim gold in the sport of road cycling, and Wales’ first Olympic champion since 1972. And before the victory Cooke had taken four junior world titles and two World Cup overall titles, but had never won a major singe-day international championship. Cooke was fifth in Athens, and owns a drawer filled with world championship silver and bronze medals.