By MITCHELL TILLER.
For those who decided to pull an all-nighter, the second day of the London Olympics certainly provided a night of entertainment that was enough to keep this reporter from nodding off. Team sport events provided most of the action early on, but swimming was the major event of the day, with four medal events late on the schedule.
Day two highlights
Australia had a mixed day at the pool yesterday, with the highlights being the efforts of Alicia Coutts and Christian Sprenger; both swimmers claiming medals for the green and gold in their events.
A fast finishing Alicia Coutts managed to snare bronze for Australia in the 100m Butterfly final, adding to her gold medal from yesterday’s 4x100m relay. The race was taken out in world record time by America’s Dana Vollmer, with Chinese swimmer Lu Ying grabbing the silver.
In the 100m Breaststroke, Christian Sprenger was brilliant as he claimed silver in the men’s event while fellow Australian Brenton Rickard came through in sixth place. South African Cameron Van Der Burgh claimed gold and a new world record, while American Brendan Hansen took out bronze. In the women’s event, Olympic veteran and crowd favourite Liesel Jones progressed through to tomorrow’s final with the fifth fastest time.
However, the biggest and most media-thrashed disappointment of the night was the highly rated men’s 4x100m freestyle team, who failed to claim a medal. After a fast opening leg from medal hopeful James ‘The Missile’ Magnussen, Australia struggled to a fourth place finish behind France, USA and Russia.
Emily Seebohm qualified with the fastest time in the 100m Backstroke and will be joined in tomorrow’s final by Belinda Hocking. In the men’s competition, Hayden Stoeckel also managed to earn himself a spot in tomorrow’s final.
The Hockeyroos’ medal hopes have been dealt a harsh blow following a 1-0 loss in their opening game against New Zealand. The ‘Black Sticks’ warmed up the score board early on, with Cathryn Finlayson hitting the back of the net from a penalty corner in the third minute.
Australia struggled throughout the match to create scoring opportunities. New Zealand held strong to clinch their first ever Olympic victory over Australia in this event.
Australia now faces an uphill battle to progress past the group stage, with the top-four ranked Germany and Argentina awaiting them.
In the other matches, the Netherlands ran over Belgium 3-0, China comfortably defeated Korea 4-0, Argentina were too good for South Africa, winning 7-1, Great Britain enjoyed a 4-0 victory over Japan and the Germans won their match against USA 2-1.
Women’s Cycling – Road Race
In a race marred by terrible weather and a series of punctured tyres, there could not have been a tighter finish. A hectic scramble to the line ended with the British having to wait for their first taste of gold these games. Dutch rider Marianne Vos just managed to hold off the British rider Elizabeth Armistead for a gold medal finish and Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya took out the bronze, after leading for much of the final stages of the race.
Australia’s highest finisher was Shara Gillow, who came through in 39th place, two minutes behind the leaders.
A fast finishing Australian outfit was just held off by Brazil in a nail-biting encounter yesterday. Facing a 10-point deficit early in the final quarter, the Boomers managed to fight their way back to within one goal, largely thanks to some inspired offensive work from Joe Ingles and David Andersen. However, the Australian charge was left too late with Brazil remaining composed to take out the game 75-71.
Fluorescent-shoed point guard Patrick Mills was electrifying for the Boomers, leading the scoring with 18 points, while also topping the list in assists and rebounds. For the Brazilians, Leandro Barbosa was impressive in scoring 16 points while Marcelinho Huertas was damaging with his passing skills.
Australia has a strong challenge ahead, facing off with the highly favoured Spanish outfit in their next group stage match.
The seemingly unbeatable USA “Dreamteam” lived up to their hype, disposing of a competitive French outfit 98-71. Kevin Durant topped the scoring for the US with 22 points while France was led by Ali Traore with 12 points.
In other results, Nigeria defeated Tunisia 60-54, Spain got up over China 97-81, Russia beat Great Britain 95-75 and Argentina ran over Lithuania 102-79.
Argentina proved too strong for a spirited Australian side, cruising to a three sets to none victory. Thomas Edgar, a 6’11” giant from Bundaberg, put on a powerful display for Australia, leading the scoring for either side with 16 points. Australia will meet the Brits in their next match, who also suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of Bulgaria.
In the other matches played today, Russia disposed of Germany 3-0, USA enjoyed a 3-0 win over Serbia, Poland got up over Italy 3-1 and Brazil dominated Tunisia for a 3-0 victory.
Australia’s horror run on the tennis court continued into day two, with Bernard Tomic bowing out in his opening round clash against Japan’s Kei Nishikori in straight sets (6-7, 6-7). Lleyton Hewitt is now Australia’s last hope, after his match against Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine was postponed due to poor weather.
In Other News…
- Cult hero table tennis player Miao Miao was unfortunately eliminated in her second round match against Taipei’s Li-Hua Huang. William Henzell is the last Australian still in the hunt, playing his third-round match tonight against Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.
- After two days of competition, the British are still without a gold medal. One can only hope that this trend continues in any competition against Australia over the coming weeks.
- China has skipped away in the medal count with six gold, four silver and two bronze; sitting ahead of the USA with three gold, five silver and three bronze; and Italy, with two gold, three silver and two bronze.
- In equestrian, Australia is currently sitting in second place after solid performances in the dressage event. They will be hoping to close the gap on Germany in the coming cross-country event.
Photo courtesy of Paul Farmer, Creative Commons.