By SAM HUSSEY
Day Eight of the London games was one for the ages, with various new Olympic and world records set across the field in London’s ‘Super Saturday’. Track and Field events moved into full swing as the swimming events drew to an end.
Olympics Day 8 Highlights
The United States continued to assert their dominance in the pool, claiming their 25th gold in the final of the Men’s 4×100 medley relay, while Michael Phelps secured his place as one of the greatest Olympians of all time by winning his eighteenth Olympic gold. Australia’s hunt for that elusive second gold medal went unrewarded once again last night as London officially concluded the swimming portion of the Olympics. The women’s 4×100 medley team were able to claim silver, while the men added another bronze to the tally. However, James Magnussen was unable to attain a much-anticipated gold medal and concludes his London tour with one silver and one bronze.
Team GB was however unable to carry its hot form onto the basketball court, falling to Australia in round four of the men’s preliminary matches. Boomers point guard Patrick Mills broke a record for the most individual points in an Olympic game, scoring 39 to help Australia take a comprehensive 31-point victory over their hosts and keep their medal hopes alive. Australia will meet Russia in its final preliminary match on Sunday night.
Across the board in Group A, Lithuania took on the gold medal favourites, USA. The all-star American line up had breezed past their first three opponents, taking an average winning margin of 53 points into round four. However, while Lithuania are currently listed fifth in FIBA’s annual rankings, they seemed completely unintimidated by their American counterparts, and always managed to stay in the game. In the dying stages of the fourth period Lithuania took the lead and looked destined to upset the gold medal favourites, as they did in Athens, 2004 – but NBA superstar LeBron James asserted his class, scoring seven points in quick succession to retake the lead and hand the USA a five-point victory.
Olympic stadium gave an incredibly warm reception to cult figure Usain Bolt as he commenced his Olympic campaign. Bolt, the world’s fastest man, was under increased pressure to perform in his heat after losing to countryman Yohan Blake just weeks earlier. Defending his Olympic title, Bolt made light work of his heat, cruising to a comfortable victory. Although it was Blake who again qualified faster, leaving the door open for a showdown between the two Jamaicans on Sunday night.
USA, China and Great Britain continued to build on their already impressive medal tally as the day progressed. After performing well below expectations in the pool, it was up to Mitchell Watt to try and bring home a medal in the men’s long jump. Competing in his first Olympics, Watt snatched second place from American Will Claye with his final jump to claim a silver medal. However, once again it was Great Britain and world number one Greg Rutherford proving too strong, cruising to gold.
Australia will continue to search for gold in the final week at London to build on an impressive collection of silver. There are high expectations for Sally Pearson in the 100m Hurdles, while the Opals and Hockeyroos are both considered genuine contenders for gold. The Boomers are still in medal contention, though even their route to a bronze playoff could be a challenging one – they may face the United States in the next round.
Other Fun Facts:
- Super Saturday was a good one for Great Britain; the host nation recorded the most successful individual day in Olympic history, claiming six gold medals, and climbed to third position on the overall medal tally. It now trails only China and the United States.
Image by Flickr – SmokeGhost