By TOM SYRMAS.
It was a day of near misses for the Australians in London, taking three silvers in and on the water, but still not adding to that solitary gold. For Team Great Britain it was a different story, as they broke their gold medal bogey to take the honours in both rowing and cycling events.
Almost every seat was occupied in the host city, during what proved to be a blockbuster day of swimming, gymnastics, rowing and more.
Australia’s first medal opportunity came in the 200m Breaststroke, with Brenton Rickard coming up against a high flying field of Brits, Japanese and Americans. However it was the Hungarian Daniel Gyurta who came up trumps, taking the gold in a world record time of 2:07:28, ahead of Jamieson of Great Britain and Tateishi of Japan. In doing so, Gyurta achieved Hungary’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the pool.
At 4:54am (local time), James “the Missile” Magnussen stood on the lane four block at the London Swimming Centre, waiting for the starting bell to signal the beginning of the Men’s 100m Freestyle Final. Tipped as the hot favourite to win gold for his country, the world’s eyes gazed on Magnussen as he dived in and sat in fourth for the first 50m. A superb turn and dazzling second stanza propelled him in to first, half a stroke ahead of American Nathan Adrian. But for all his good work, it just wasn’t enough. A longer stretch from Adrian on the final stroke allowed him to touch the wall one hundredth of a second faster than Magnussen, demoting the Australian hero back to second; a small consolation for a man who has had the hopes of his nation constantly weighing over him for the last three days.
There was still hope for Australia in the pool though. The final medal event for the morning was the Women’s 4x200m Freestyle. In a race full of twists and turns it was the French who got out in front early, but after one leg it became a two horse race between Australia and the USA. The two swimming powerhouses were inseparable until the last 100m, when Allison Schmitt managed to get a body length ahead of Alicia Coutts. From there the Americans were unstoppable, taking the gold by one and a half seconds. Australia, for the second time this morning, had to settle for silver.
In Tonight’s events, Melanie Schlanger will contest the Women’s 100m Freestyle final, and young Mitch Larkin put up a brave performance to qualify for the Men’s 200m Backstroke final.
The badminton world has been rocked in the last 36 hours after eight competitors from China, Korea and Indonesia, were disqualified for trying to lose their doubles matches in order to alter the draw for the knock out section. The farce does have its positives though, as it allows the Australian pair to return to the competition as quarter-finalists.
The disqualified nations have appealed the verdict handed out by badminton’s governing body.
The rowers were the first out for medals last night, and the Australians competed in all three events on show. Team Great Britain won their much-anticipated first gold of the Games after Helen Glover and Heather Stanning lead from start to finish in the Women’s Pairs. The Australian pair of Sarah Tait and Kate Hornsey grabbed a hard-earned silver medal each after a storming finish in the last 200 metres, edging out New Zealand who took the bronze.
The Women’s Quadruples Sculls event had Australia finishing fourth, with the Ukraine completing a dominant win.
Overwhelming favourites Germany won the Men’s Eight over Canada and Great Britain. Australia finished last.
38-year old American Kristin Armstrong took a satisfying 16 second victory in the Women’s Road Time Trials over German Judith Arndt and Russian Olga Zabelinskaya, who finished second and third respectively.
Armstrong entered the competition as the defending Olympic champion, after a 35 second victory in Beijing four years ago.
Australian Shara Gillow finished thirteenth, almost three minutes off the pace of the leader.
In the men’s event, Le Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins took the gold for Great Britain, ahead of German Tony Martin and fellow Brit Chris Froome.
Australian Michael Rogers finished sixth, over two minutes behind Wiggins.
The Opals were out in force against Brazil in their group match, and controlled most of the match. However things started to turn pear shape midway through the final term, and with just 16 seconds to go, their lead of 13 had fallen to just four points. However, when Brazil fouled, captain and Aussie flag bearer Lauren Jackson was able to step up and net a couple of free shots, giving our girls an important six point win.
The men’s Individual All-Around final was a tightly contested affair, with only 8.5 points separating first and last. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura took the gold, whilst the Germans were again in the medals with Marcel Nguyen taking second. American Danell Leyva snatched bronze from Mykola Luksenkov of Ukraine.
Each medal was up for grabs up until the last rotation, and an error on the floor from Japanese gymnast Kazuhito Tanaka saw his medal chances disappear, and with it, the chance of an all-Japanese one-two.
Australia’s representative Joshua Jefferis put on a solid show in the final, but ultimately didn’t do enough, and found himself in 19th place, nearly six points off the lead.
China has continued its dominance in the diving, taking gold in the men’s Synchronised 3m Springboard. Russia took second and the USA took third.
It was China v China in Women’s Singles Table Tennis final. Li XiaoXia defeated Ding Ning 4 sets to 1 during a tense affair, which ended in tears. There will be high interest when they appear on the same side of the table during the Women’s Doubles.
South Korean Dae-Nam Song defeated Cuban Asley Gonzalez in the Men’s 90kg Judo final, with Japan’s Masashi Nishayima taking bronze.
The Australian Men’s Hockey Team thrashed Spain 5-0, continuing their good form after their previous win against South Africa.
In fencing, Ruben Limardo Gascon of Venezuela defeated Bartosz Piasecki 15-10 in the Men’s Individual Epee final. This was followed by Jinsun Jung taking the bronze for South Korea in a tense bout that went in to overtime against the unorthodox American Seth Kelsey.