After a few days of reports chronicling his conspicuous non-appearances at the velodrome, there were sarcastic sighs of relief when Cavendish finally turned up.
Jessica Ennis-Hill wasn’t going to die wondering. As she lined up for the 800m, the final event of the women’s heptathlon, she knew she needed to overturn a 142-point deficit to surpass Nafissatou Thiam, the brilliant young Belgian – nine years her junior – if she was to retain her Olympic title. That equated to 9.47 seconds: the exact difference between their two personal bests.
Gold medals never come easy, but Mo Farah’s third was harder than most. First Farah fell, and then he found himself in a fierce final sprint with Kenya’s Paul Tanui.
The record books tell everything about the cliff face Jessica Ennis-Hill will have to climb when she begins the defence of her Olympic heptathlon title on Friday morning.
Few teams personify that hoary old saw about the fleeting nature of form compared to the permanence of class than the British men’s track cycling sprint team.
Fiji are celebrating their first ever Olympic medal after they outplayed Great Britain from start to finish to win gold in the first Olympic men’s rugby sevens tournament with a 43-7 victory in the final at the Deodoro Stadium in Rio.
This just was not Jo Konta’s day.
Team USA’s Simone Manuel and 16-year-old Canadian Penny Oleksiak have spoiled the party for Australia’s Campbell sisters in a dramatic final of the women’s 100m freestyle.
Simone Manuel made history in the pool on Thursday night, as she became the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold in an individual swimming event.
Bungs and secret bank accounts; shadowy figures on the take and make; the bidding process for major sporting events shown to be as transparent as an oil slick.
Jessica Ennis-Hill believes she is fitter now than at any time since winning heptathlon gold at London 2012 and she showed her Olympic defence is on track by scoring an impressive 6,733 points to win the IAAF Combined Events Challenge in Ratingen, Germany.
The running shorts were long, the swimming pool went green, and some of the winning athletes were helped along both by friends and alcohol, yet London's first Olympics, held in 1908, set the template for the modern international event.
The greatest Olympian in the history of the modern Games, Michael Phelps, swam his last ever individual race on Friday, and won his 17th gold medal and 21st overall, claiming victory in the 100m butterfly at the Aquatics Centre.
Manny Pacquiao has said he is up for it, and Amir Khan has sensationally suggested he would compete for Pakistan, but voices in British boxing from the grassroots to the top-flight have ridiculed plans to allow professionals to compete against amateurs in the Rio Olympics this summer.
Jo Pavey has admitted that time is running out on her dream of becoming the first British track athlete to compete in five Olympic Games, and fears that a prolonged chest infection could wreck her ambitions to retain her European 10,000m title in Amsterdam next month.
Jamaica’s Olympic gold-winning sprinter Kemar Bailey-Cole has revealed that he is suffering from the Zika virus.
Adam Gemili described it as the “best feeling in the world” after straining to a narrow victory in the men’s 200m at the UK trials. There were smiles, too, for Danny Talbot, a hair’s breadth behind in second, who also secured his Olympic place. But at least one top British sprinter will shortly find his Rio ambitions shattered after a day of intrigue and drama in Birmingham.
The years and opponents might change, but for Mo Farah some things remain ever present: that feeling of accelerating through the gears, the thrill of leaving his rivals clutching at his slipstream, the joy of kissing the track knowing another gold medal is in the bag.
Well, the Olympics have turned up. What a night this was in the Maracaña, as Brazil’s long-nursed dreams of a first Olympic football gold medal were stretched thin, wrung out a little more and then finally delivered via Neymar’s winning kick in the decisive penalty shootout.
“That piaffe was exquisite,” I said, awed, to my girlfriend. Her eyes rolled upwards in long-suffering torment at my confidently professed knowledge of a movement in the dressage event.