Poor weather matches British Games outlook

NZ Newswire Updated July 30, 2012, 1:36 am

Heavy rain fell at the Olympics on Sunday drenching spectators and competitors alike, with the dismal weather outlook matching the mood of the host nation.

A day after the much-hyped British road cycling team - containing Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins - failed to propel Mark Cavendish to a medal, the hosts were lucky when another big name squeezed into a final.

Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington grabbed last spot in the 400m freestyle final, while teammate and Beijing bronze medallist Jo Jackson failed to qualify.

The mood at the Games was not helped after complaints to organisers that stands were not full on the first day of competition and some tickets were not being used.

And the cold wet British weather was keeping crowds at bay on Sunday with a number of open-air events across the capital, including tennis, archery and beach volleyball enduring wet spells.

London Games boss Sebastian Coe said troops, students and teachers could all be asked to fill gaps in empty stadiums caused by Olympic family members and sponsors not turning up.

"It's not easy to ask people (in the accredited Olympic family) at the beginning of the Games to ask people exactly how, where and when they're going to be in those seats," Coe said.

"We can clearly sell more tickets, which we did yesterday. We sold something like 1,000 tickets over three sessions.

"The other thing is we can tactically upgrade and move people."

In other disappointing news for the Games, a female gymnast from Uzbekistan was provisionally suspended after failing a drug test, the second doping case of these Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee said Luiza Galiulina - a lesser-known name with no medal hopes - tested positive for the banned diuretic furosemide in a pre-games urine control in London on Wednesday.

On a brighter note for the host nation and organisers, the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips had royal fans in the stands as she made her Olympic equestrian debut, earning a respectable score in the eventing dressage competition despite a slight mistake.

Phillips' grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as her mother, Princess Anne, were in the VIP seats at Greenwich Park as Phillips rode her horse, High Kingdom, through the paces of a standard dressage test to demonstrate the horse's obedience.

Cheers and applause broke out as she rode into the stadium and erupted again when she finished with a solid 46.10 penalty points, despite a slight mistake toward the beginning of her canter.

The only medal to be decided by early afternoon on Sunday was the women's 10m air pistol won by China's Guo Wenjun.

She showed nerves of steel to come from behind on the very last shot to successfully defend her Beijing title and keep China comfortably on top of the medal tally.

On Saturday young swimmers Ye Shiwen and Sun Yang sent China to the top of the table with record-breaking gold medal performances in the pool.

The powerful Chinese team also claimed top honours in women's weightlifting to show they will not easily give up their ascendancy over the US gained in Beijing 2008.

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