Swiss win three medals in one day in Beijing
Switzerland won a gold and two bronze medals at the Olympic Games on Wednesday, while Roger Federer reached the quarterfinals of the men's tennis singles event.
In cycling races against the clock, Fabian Cancellara claimed the first gold medal for Switzerland while Karin Thürig won bronze.
In judo, Sergei Aschwanden took the bronze medal in the finals of the men’s 90kg category.
It was the first time Switzerland won three medals in one day since the summer Olympics of 1952.
The country now has a tally of four medals after Cancellara took bronze on the first day of competition in the cycling road race.
The Swiss sport minister, Samuel Schmid, congratulated the three and their support teams for “outstanding performances”.
Cancellara took one hour, two minutes, 11.43 seconds to complete the 47.3km course in the men’s individual time trial.
The two-time trial world champion came in 33 seconds ahead of Gustav Larsson of Sweden and more than a minute ahead of American Levi Leipheimer, who finished third.
“It was a really, really tough race. Now is the moment to be happy and proud that I won,” the 27-year old Swiss said.
Cancellara – a mean machine on the road with a gladiatorial physique and nerves of steel – has been nicknamed “Spartacus” by his teammates.
Thirty-nine riders from 29 countries took part in the competition, which consisted of two laps of a hilly circuit between sections of the Great Wall of China.
In the women’s cycling individual time trial, 36-year-old Thürig finished third almost a minute after Kristin Armstrong of the United States who posted a time of 34 minutes 51.72 seconds. Britain’s Emma Pooley, who lives in Zurich, won silver in the 23.5 kilometre race.
While Cancellara was last to set off in his race, Thürig had the disadvantage of starting early in the event so that her rivals knew what time they had to beat. But the former triathlon athlete fought hard for her medal.
“My strategy was not to go right to the limit in the climbs, so that I could push on the descents,” Thürig said.
Not yet finished
Thürig is not yet finished with her Olympics hopes – she is competing in the individual pursuit event on Friday. She came fifth in this discipline four years ago in Athens.
In judo Aschwanden managed to win four of five bouts he fought during the day to secure his medal.
The Swiss mounted an effective counter-attack to beat Russia’s Ivan Pershin, twisting him around his waist for an ippon.
Aschwanden made his decisive move one minute and 44 seconds before the bout was due to end.
In his previous Olympic appearances in 2004 and 2000 he dropped out in the first round.
In tennis, Federer erased the memory of his last Olympic experience by beating the Czech Tomas Berdych who made headlines four years ago by ousting the Swiss in the second round in Athens.
But he had to survive a second set scare to record his 6-4 6-2 win. After trailing 3-0, he fought back to force a tiebreak which he ended with an 11th ace.
“I know the difficulty of winning a medal here – winning six matches in seven days, plus doubles. But that’s the way it is,” Federer told reporters.
Federer and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka also qualified for the quarterfinals of the doubles competition.
They beat Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny 6-4 6-3 and will now meet Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes of India in the next round.
swissinfo with agencies
Olympic gold medal winner Fabian Cancellara was born in Bern in 1981, and became a professional road bicycle racer in 2001. Cancellara joined Team CSC in 2006.
He has two UCI World Championship Time Trial rainbow jerseys to his name (2006 and 2007).
Born in July 1972, Thürig is a former national league volleyball player, fitness instructor and competes in extreme triathlons. She is also a keen horse rider.
The athlete won a previous cycling bronze in the 2004 Games in Athens and was world time trial champion in 2004 and 2005.
Son of a Swiss father and Kenyan mother, Sergei Aschwanden was born in December 1975 in Bern.
In addition to winning the Swiss Championships eight times, Aschwanden has also claimed two European Championship titles (2000 and 2003), three European bronze medals and a bronze and silver at the World Championships (2001 and 2003).
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