Tuesday's Olympics wrapup
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Tuesday’s Olympic roundup…
LONDON — Michael Phelps lingered on the blocks, not wanting to make another shocking blunder. The 19th medal was his. All he had to do was avoid a DQ, then set off on what amounted to four victory laps.
Down and back, then down and back again, the roars getting louder with each stroke.
When Phelps touched the wall, he finally had gold at his final Olympics.
And a record for the ages.
Phelps swam into history with a lot of help from his friends, taking down the last major record that wasn’t his alone. He took the anchor leg for the United States in a gold medal-winning performance of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay Tuesday night, earning the 19th Olympic medal of his brilliant career, and the 15th gold.
A more appropriate color.
“I’ve put my mind to doing something that nobody had ever done before,” Phelps said. “This has been an amazing ride.”
About an hour earlier, Phelps took one of his most frustrating defeats at the pool, blowing it at the finish and settling for silver in his signature event, the 200 butterfly.
That tied the record for career medals held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, but it was hardly a triumphant moment. Phelps slung away his cap in disgust and struggled to force a smile at the medal ceremony.
But any disappointment from that race was gone by the time he dived in the water on the relay, having been staked to a huge lead by teammates Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens.
Before the race, they all huddled together, fully aware of their role in history.
“I thanked those guys for helping me get to this moment,” Phelps said. “I told those guys I wanted a big lead. I was like, ‘You better give me a big lead going into the last lap,’ and they gave it to me. I just wanted to hold on. I thanked them for being able to allow me to have this moment.”
Berens handed off a lead of nearly 4 seconds to Phelps, who was extra cautious with the exchange, knowing the only way he could ruin this one was to get disqualified.
Lochte stood on the deck, waving his arms. Dwyer and Berens pumped their fists. And Phelps touched the wall for his first gold of the London Games with a cumulative time of 6 minutes, 59.70 seconds.
No one else was close. France’s Yannick Agnel swam a faster final leg than Phelps, but it wasn’t nearly good enough, his country taking silver in 7:02.77. China was far back in third at 7:06.30.
Phelps might have backed into the record a bit by failing to win any of his first three events at these games, but there’s no denying his legacy as one of the greatest Olympians ever — if not THE greatest.
“The legacy he has left behind for swimming is fantastic,” said South African Chad le Clos, the guy who beat him in the butterfly. “Even in Africa, everyone knows Michael Phelps.”
Phelps has 15 golds in his career, six more than anyone else, to go along with two silvers and two bronzes. After failing to medal in his only race at the 2000 Sydney Games, he won six golds and two bronzes in Athens, followed by his epic eight gold medals in Beijing. And now the swan song, not nearly as epic but enough.
The team of Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber lived up to all the hype, winning the first U.S. Olympic title in women’s gymnastics since 1996.
American Allison Schmitt won the 200 freestyle with a dominating performance that left everyone else, including teammate Missy Franklin, battling for the other medals. It was her first career gold medal, to go along with a silver in the 400 free and a bronze in the 4×100 free relay. The 17-year-old Franklin was denied her third medal in London, one night after her gutsy victory in the 100 backstroke earned her a tweet-out from pop star Justin Bieber.
Chinese teen swimming sensation Ye Shiwen now has two gold medals — but all anybody wants to talk about is whether she’s doping. She shattered the world record in the 400 individual medley, then broke her own Olympic record to take the 200 IM title. The head of the American Swimming Coaches Association was among those openly questioning Ye’s legitimacy, but Olympic organizers resolutely defended her, and she replied “Absolutely not” when asked if she had ever doped.
Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love scored 16 points apiece to lead the U.S. basketball team to a 110-63 victory against Tunisia and help the Americans improve to 2-0 in the tournament.
Abby Wambach scored to lead the U.S. women to a 1-0 win over North Korea in soccer — a victory that gave the Americans first place in its group.
Beijing gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the United States improved to 2-0 in the preliminary round of the beach volleyball tournament by beating Spain in three sets. The win against the only other unbeaten team in their pool virtually assures the Americans of a trip to the knockout round.
With golds in swimming, synchronized platform diving and fencing, China built its Olympics-leading total to 13, with the United States second with nine golds. Both countries are tied with 23 medals overall.
NOT THEIR FINEST HOUR
Water polo power Hungary, which has won three straight Olympic gold medals, lost to Montenegro 11-10, two days after dropping its opener in London to Serbia. The Hungarians next face Romania and Britain before closing out the preliminary stage against the United States.
The queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips added to the family silver, helping team Britain to a second-place finish behind Germany in equestrian eventing. And her mother, Princess Anne, presented the medal.
— Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, a female judo fighter from Saudi Arabia, will be allowed to compete Friday wearing a form of headscarf. A compromise was reached after several days of IOC-brokered talks between the International Judo Federation and the Saudi Olympic Committee.
1:WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS
—Swimming: gold medal finals in men’s 200-meter breaststroke, men’s 100-meter freestyle, women’s 200-meter butterfly, women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
—Men’s gymnastics: all-around gold medal final.
—Women’s beach volleyball: May-Treanor/Walsh (U.S.) vs. D. Schwaiger/S. Schwaiger (Austria).
—Men’s diving: synchronized springboard gold medal final.
There was a familiar sister act at Wimbledon on Monday, with Serena and Venus Williams each advancing in the singles tournament, then combining for a doubles win.
Other major champions to advance in singles included Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, top-seeded Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick.
Venus Williams waited an extra day because of rain to begin her bid for a record fourth gold medal in Olympic tennis, then defeated recent French Open runner-up Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-1. Serena completed a July sweep of Poland’s Radwanska sisters by beating Urszula in the second round, 6-2, 6-3. She defeated Radwanska’s sister, Agnieszka, in the Wimbledon final this month. Federer also reached the third round, beating Julien Benneteau of France 6-2, 6-2.