Olympics: Blatter adds to Swiss silverware
Switzerland's Barbara Blatter has won the Olympic silver medal in the women's mountain-bike race. One of the pre-race favourites to win gold, Blatter appeared to have peaked too soon, after leading for more than half the distance.
On the third lap of the course Blatter was overtaken by the Spanish rider, Margarita Fullana. Then with around 14 kilometres to go the Swiss cyclist was pushed back into third place as the defending champion Paola Pezzo raced past.
A collision between the two leaders gave Blatter a chance to get back in the race. With one lap to go she was able to pass Fullana but was unable to close in on Pezzo.
As the Italian pressed on for her second successive Olympic gold, Blatter found herself pitted against Fullana in a hard fight for silver. Competing almost tyre to tyre the two women slugged out the last few hundred metres with the Swiss rider just ahead.
Finally, on the last flat stage before the finish line, Blatter was able to extend her lead, and assure herself of the silver medal at least.
There was no such compensation for the other Swiss rider involved. Chantal Daucourt had sets her sights somewhat lower, aiming for one of the diplomas that go to athletes finishing in the top eight. The cyclist from canton Vaud could only manage 11th place however.
Blatter's achievement marked an important milestone for the Swiss delegation as a whole. By winning the seventh Swiss medal of the Sydney Games, she completed a haul to match the number of medals won by the Swiss in Atlanta.
But although the Sydney squad have matched their Atlanta contemporaries in quantity, they still have work to do in matching the quality. While the Atlanta tally included four gold medals, the Swiss in Sydney have so far managed just the one gold.
Following Brigitte McMahon's victory in the triathlon on the opening day of the Games, the Swiss have enjoyed something of a silver rush. In total, five silver medals have now been won by the squad (two in fencing, and one each in shooting, rowing and mountainbiking), with Magali Messmer's bronze in the triathlon completing the honours.
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