Nicole Cooke made history in winning gold for Great Britain in the women’s cycling road race at the Beijing Olympics on this day in 2008.
Circling the Great Wall, the then-25-year-old Cooke sprinted across the finish line to secure the coveted gold medal, the first from a female British cyclist in the discipline.
The record-breaking gold was Great Britain’s 200th Olympic gold overall and the first from a Welsh athlete since 1972, however conditions on the day were far from ideal.
Despite the iconic setting, heavy rain was a prominent feature of the 126 kilometre route from the city centre to a section of the Great Wall, and Cooke made a good call to form a breakaway with four others 6km away from the finish line.
The Welsh athlete had taken up competitive cycling aged 11, before she went on to win her first national junior title at the age of 16 and was a four-time world junior champion.
After turning professional, Cooke became the youngest rider to win the Giro d’Italia – aged 21 – in 2004 following on from triumph at the 2003 World Cup.
Having finished a disappointing fifth in the previous Games in Athens, Cooke went into the competition in 2008 in good form. She had won her eighth consecutive British Road Race Championship, having fought back from knee injuries in the previous years.
After the Olympics, she claimed the 2008 World Championship gold, becoming the first cyclist to finish first in the Olympic and World finals in the same year.
Cooke retired from cycling in 2013, having competed in professional cycling since 2002.
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