There was golden glory for the British team today as Victoria Pendleton became queen of the velodrome, its cyclists smashed a world record and rower Katherine Grainger finally realised her Olympic dream.
But, despite battling bravely, Rebecca Adlington could only manage a bronze medal as she tried to make history by becoming the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title.
Pendleton made up for the bitter disappointment of being relegated from the team sprint and produced a storming finish to take the gold medal in the women’s keirin.
Pendleton said: “I can barely believe it. The crowd have been fantastic – they really helped me tonight.”
And with cycling hero Bradley Wiggins looking on, the men’s team pursuit squad added gold with an emphatic performance which shattered the world record leaving rivals Australia trailing in their wake.
The golds pushed Team GB to fourth in the medals table with 22 – eight gold, six silver and eight bronze.
At the same point in the hugely-successful Beijing Games Britain had won just eight medals.
Adlington admitted there had been pressure and expectation on her to win gold in the 800m freestyle, but declared: “I gave it my absolute all.”
The atmosphere in the Velodrome was electric as Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh and Steven Burke stormed to victory in the pursuit.
Thomas told the BBC: “The crowd is unbelievable. My ears are ringing. It’s too loud.”
After three consecutive silver medals Grainger had feared she would always be the bridesmaid at the Games, but she put those days behind her as she stormed to victory with her double sculls partner, Anna Watkins.
She raised her arms to the heavens as she crossed the line and bowed to a packed stand.
The scene could not have been further removed from the devastating defeat in Beijing four years ago when Grainger missed out on gold.
Then, she was left distraught and contemplating retirement.
She told the BBC: “It was worth the wait. I feel this medal, of all of them, is the people’s medal. I feel so many people have been behind me and supported me and wanted this for me as much as I have.”
There was more rowing triumph for Team GB when George Nash and William Satch took bronze in the men’s pair and Alan Campbell took bronze in the men’s single sculls.
Another bronze went to veteran British judo heavyweight Karina Bryant, who finally claimed an Olympic medal in a fight against Iryna Kindzerska of Ukraine.
Another gold medal hope, Jessica Ennis, made a sensational start in the heptathlon, setting a new record in the 100m hurdles.
In the first day of athletics at the Games, only a handful of seats in the 80,000-capacity Olympic stadium were empty as the 26-year-old recorded the fastest time ever for the 100m hurdles, smashing her personal best with an exhilarating run of 12.54 seconds.
Ennis admitted she was stunned by the size of the crowd and her achievement in the hurdles.
“Stepping into the stadium before the hurdles, it just blew me away to be honest,” she told the BBC.
“The crowd and how they got behind me was amazing. It was a great start to the day.