Published July 29, 2012
LONDON – Heavy rain drenched the women's road cycling race Sunday and strong winds rattled through tennis courts and the equestrian arena as the London Olympics faced its first encounter with Britain's often tempestuous weather.
Thousands of fans braved downpours along the 87-mile (140-kilometer) Olympic cycling route, while the riders themselves battled to keep control as they flew across pools of rainwater.
In London's Greenwich district, wind and rain forced a brief delay at the equestrian events and pulled loose the roof of an enclosure housing tournament judges.
To the south at Wimbledon, play in the Olympic tennis tournament was delayed for almost three hours amid repeated showers, and the arena's Center Court roof was rolled out to allow some matches to continue.
The archery competition — taking place at the capital's storied Lords cricket ground — was also blighted by downpours during a women's team quarterfinal between Denmark and South Korea.
Claps of thunder had announced the start of the women's road cycling race, close to Buckingham Palace, but spectator Simon Ashmore, 29, said the soaking conditions hadn't dampened the crowd's spirits.
"It was a fantastic atmosphere despite the rain. People were still jolly and everyone was sharing brollies," said Ashmore, using a British term for umbrellas.
At the Olympic Park, Molly Wilson, from Michigan, wrapped her U.S. flag around her head in an attempt to fend off the rain.
"I know London is rainy so this doesn't surprise me, though I will bring an umbrella next time," she said.
British horse rider Kristina Cook insisted the wind and rain hadn't put her — or her horse — off their stride as they competed in the equestrian events at Greenwich.
"Obviously I would love the sun shining down on me now, it would have been brilliant, but that's England for you isn't it?" said a philosophical Cook.
But she said she did get concerned when strong winds yanked off part of a roof on a temporary enclosure where the judges were based.
"When the judges' roof came up and down as he (my horse) was doing his extended trot, I really hoped that he wasn't going to spook," she said.
Despite the showers, some Olympic venues escaped the poor weather.
Soccer matches in central and northern England went ahead unaffected, the beach volleyball tournament in central London continued unscathed, and there was actual bouts of sun at the Weymouth sailing venue in southwest England.