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Loughrey leads the way in Adver Olympic contest
6:00am Tuesday 7th August 2012 in Sport
THE opening ceremony consisted of a brief chat in a car park, no world records were in danger of being broken, nor will any iconic images be beamed around the globe, but the Swindon Advertiser Olympic Challenge still produced its fair share of memorable moments.
The Games have captured the hearts of the entire nation over the last 10 days, with the talents of athletes of all shapes and sizes coming to the fore in a diverse list of sports ranging from athletics to handball, and from fencing to archery.
While the town’s real Olympians, including swimmer Grant Turner and gymnast Jade Faulkner, have been busy in their quest for medals, the Advertiser was keen to show what other sportsmen from Swindon had to offer in a range of events including track and field, swimming and rowing.
Swindon Robins manager Alun Rossiter, Swindon Rugby Club fly-half Adam Westall, England golfer Ben Loughrey, Swindon Storm American Football head coach Steve Bennett and boxing coach Islan Eltuyev, as well as Steve Butt and Andy Warren from the Adver sports desk, took up the challenge and competed in a range of Olympic sports in a bid to crown the town’s very own gold medalist.
After watching Cirencester’s Pete Reed become a two-time gold winner in the lobby of Next Generation at Kembrey Park, our local ‘Olympians’ got the chance to see how they matched up against the heroes from Eton Dorney, albeit on the safety of dry land.
And while they may not have reached the heights of Great Britain’s medal winners over the last week, the chase for Adver gold over a shortened 500 metre course was just as tight, with the competitors looking as exhausted as the true Olympians despite only travelling a quarter of the distance.
In the first group to row, Westall posted an early time of 1:38 to take the lead, while Swindon Storm coach Bennett trailed him by only one second.
The second group knew what they had to do, and after Butt faded away in the closing stages, Loughrey stepped it up to record exactly the same time as Westall to earn a share of the gold, with Bennett taking the bronze.
“Having only done a quarter of what the athletes actually do really puts into perspective how high their anaerobic fitness and strength actually is,” Westall said.
“We row quite a bit for our pre-season training, and it is one of the toughest things we do in terms of endurance.“
Loughrey added: “The rowing was really brutal, and I am still hurting now.
“I really wanted to do a good time, and I just went for it and fortunately I did well.”
Table tennis has been part of the Summer Olympic programme since 1988 with Great Britain yet to claim a medal, but the sport has experienced something of a revival in this country in the last two or three years.
Butt went into the challenge as the overwhelming favourite having played in local leagues for years, and didn’t disappoint as he won all of his games with ease, leading up to a winner takes all clash with the also unbeaten Loughrey for the gold medal.
After a tight affair, it was the Adver sports editor who took the victory as he scored his first points of the competition.
“I expected to win going into the event because I had that little bit of experience, and I would have been very disappointed if I didn’t come out on top,” he said.
“But the guys pushed me hard, and I didn’t have things easy.”
Boxing trainer Islan Eltuyev claimed third place, a feat made even more impressive with the fact he is currently observing Ramadan.
The women’s Olympic badminton tournament has been tainted after pairs from China, South Korea and Indonesia deliberately tried to lose their matches in a bid to earn an easier draw, a crime for which they were all eventually disqualified.
The longest rally in the first set of the game between China's Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na was a pitiful four shots, and while at times our local athletes couldn’t even manage that, there were some impressive performances.
Golfer Loughrey won all of his matches to claim top spot, but in second place was Swindon Robins manager Rossiter, who rolled back the years to his school days when he used to play the sport regularly.
“I was always pretty good at school and I enjoyed it which was helpful, but I hadn’t played it for years before this,” he said.
“Seeing some of the other guys I thought I would struggle, but I did well in my matches and only lost one game, which I think I should have won in honesty.”
At the end of the first round of events Loughrey leads the way after a solid performance in all three disciplines, with Westall and Butt close behind.
Following a shocking display, Adver sports writer Andy Warren is at the bottom of the table having yet to trouble the scorers.
DAY ONE RESULTS
ROWING: 1, Westall; 2, Loughrey; 3, Bennett.
TABLE TENNIS: 1, Butt; 2, Loughrey; 3, Eltuyev.
BADMINTON: 1, Loughrey; 2, Rosco; 3, Westall.
1st: Ben Loughrey - 8 points
2nd: Adam Westall - 4 points
3rd Steve Butt - 3 points
4th Alun Rossiter - 2 points
5th Islan Eltuyev - 1 point
6th Steve Bennett - 1 point
7th Andy Warren - 0 points
PICK UP TOMORROW'S ADVER TO SEE HOW OUR OLYMPIANS GOT ON IN THE SWIMMING POOL.