Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympics started off with a bang!
First up, the 10m Air Rifle, where the shooters are awarded points for hitting a target 10m away while in a standing position. After the qualifying round, the most points won in the final determines the winner.
And the first medals of the Rio 2016 Olympics were handed out in Shooting, Women’s 10m Air Rifle. 19 year old Virginia Thrasher of the US sets a new Olympics record, earning 208 points from an incredible performance, delivering a bull's-eye to start the final round, shooting her way to gold, the first gold medal awarded at the Rio Games.
China's Du Li, scored 207 points, earning her the silver. Li won gold in this event 12 years ago at Athens 2004, & she set a new Olympics record in the qualifying round, earning 420.7 points, beating the previous record of 400, set by Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic back in the Beijing 2008 Games where Emmons won gold. Yi Siling of China, defending London 2012 gold medalist, shoots her way to bronze with a score of 184.5.
Over on the men's side, Shooting, Men’s 10m Air Pistol: Hoang Xuan Vinh of Vietnam scores 202.5 points, winning his country its first ever gold medal! And he did it by outlasting the crowd favorite, Brazil's Felipe Almeida Wu, who scored 202.1 points, giving Brazil it's first medal of the Rio Olympics, a silver. Pang Wei of China, the gold medalist the 2008 Beijing Games, captured bronze with 108.4 points.
Meanwhile in Judo:
Judo, Women’s 48kg, Paula Pareto won Argentina's first ever judo gold medal at the Olympics by beating South Korea's Jeong Bo-Kyeong, who settles for silver. It didn't look good for Pareto, Beijing 2008 bronze medalist, who was struggling in the match early on, & then the match was halted briefly so she could receive treatment, when she took an unintentional hit to the face from Jeong. But she rallied & executed a move that won the match.
Japan's Ami Kondo and Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh of Kazakhstan took bronze. That's right--they each won a bronze. This is one of those events where they have two bronze matches. And a bronze is so much better than getting nothing at all! Just ask defending London 2012 gold medalist Sarah Menezes, who didn't medal in her home turf of Brazil.
On the men's Judo, Men’s 60kg event, the biggest surprise of the day is 16th-ranked Russian Beslan Mudranov, pulled off one of the day's biggest upsets when he defeated top seed Kim Won-Jin of South Korea.
So you think you can dance?
Mudranov, 30, defeated Yeldos Smetov of Kazakhstan in the final, becoming Russia's first gold medalist at the Rio Games. His win offers hope to the Russians, whose legions of athletes have been banned from the Rio Games for extensive drug doping! Entire teams have tested positive for performance enhancers & have been banned from competing! Those cheaters!
The entire Russian judo team is the only team still intact, whereas their comrades in other sports have been all banned entirely or have one or a few members cleared for competition.
Yeldos Smetov of Kazakhstan settles for silver, while the bronze medals were won by Japan's Naohisa Takato and Diyorbek Urozboev of Uzbekistan.
Over in Men's Team Archery, Kim Woo-jin, Ku Bon-chan and Lee Seung-yun roared to a 6-0 win, restoring South Korea's prestige, after settling for bronze in London 2012. This gold marks their fifth team win since archery returned to the Olympics in 1972, & it's the fourth team win in the last five Olympics. It is a fine victory for the young rookies.
The Americans settle for silver, as they did in London 2012. Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski and Zach Garrett performed well, but could not match the South Koreans who dominated the event.
Meanwhile, Taylor Worth, Alec Potts and Ryan Tyack of Australia scored the bronze, the first medals of the Rio Games for Australia, & they are Australia's first archery medals since Athens 2004, & make history as the first ever Archery team event medal win for Australia. Congrats on a job well done, beating off China to get that bronze.
Big upset over in Fencing, Women's Epee! Hungary's Emese Szasz, ranked seventh in the world, rallied to win the gold medal in women's epee, stunning two-time world champion, fourth ranked Rossella Fiamingo of Italy, who settles for silver. Szasz was behind 4 points, but managed to work herself to a 15-13 win over Fiamingo. China's Yiwen Sun won bronze, beating Lauren Rembi of France. The big surprises were that the first, second, & third ranked athletes were knocked out before the medal rounds! It's the Olympics. Anything can happen!
And anything did happen in the most dangerous & thrilling event of the day, Cycling, men's road race! 241.5km (152.2mi) long, the race length, sharp turns, steep ascents, & twisted descents on rough loops & uneven climbs made for a challenging, dangerous race. Several of the racers, including the heavily favored, crashed hard in one of the toughest, grueling races in Olympics history.
|Nibali & Henao crashing at the Rio Olympics cycling road race 6 Aug 2016|
|Australia's Richie Porte was tipped to win a medal in the men's road race, but suffered a crash like many others on the dangerous cycling road race course 6 Aug 2016 Rio Olympics (AFP)|
Over in Weightlifting, women's 48kg, Thailand’s Sopita Tanasan wins Thailand's first gold with a total lift of 200kg and silver was won by Sri Wahyuni Agustiani of Indonesia, who lifted 192kg. Japan’s Hiromi Miyake won the bronze with a total lift of 188kg.
Bow before my powerful snatch!
|Sopita Tanasan of Thailand competes in the Women's 48kg Group A Final on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 2 on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. |
(Aug. 5, 2016 - Source: David Ramos/Getty Images South America)
Sopita Tanasan was able to snatch & lift her way to gold. There is some behind the scenes drama in the event. The sudden withdrawal of favorite, 19 yr old Hou Zhihui of China, predicted by many to win the gold, left Rio with what was described as a "knee injury". But there are rumors that the injury — whatever its severity — helped China decide to replace her on the team with over-75kg lifter Meng Suping. With the Russian weightlifters banned from participating, Meng became a favorite to win gold in the heavier division. And when confronted by the press, the Chinese coaches admitted that the Russian ban did have an effect on how they changed their own team's composition & plans for success.
Now we come to the most exciting events of the day: Swimming. After a disappointing showing back in London 2012, Australia is on the rise again.
Swimming, Men’s 400m IM
In the men's 400 individual medley, the swimmer swims 100m first with the butterfly, then backstroke, then breaststroke, & finally freestyle. Long has this event been dominated by Americans, with Michael Phelps since Athens 2004; then Ryan Lochte won it from Phelps in London 2012.
This time, Phelps, 31, chose not to compete in the event, & Lochte, 32, due to hamstring injuries, did not qualify to compete in this event at the Rio Games. Japan has been dominating this event in the past two years, & there were doubts that any other American can meet the challenge of medaling in the event.
But Chase Kalisz, 22, met the challenge in the hard fought race, earning him a silver. Japan's Kosuke Hagino, the heavy favorite & London 2012 bronze medalist, edged out Kalisz for gold. And Japan's Daiya Seto won bronze. Chase Kalisz is Phelps training partner & both share the same coach, Bob Bowman.
Swimming, Men’s 400m Freestyle
My favorite event of the night was the action packed men's 400m freestyle. Some background: China’s Sun Yang, the London 2012 defending gold medalist, was heavily favored to win. But he's a pretty controversial person. He intentionally splashes water onto his competitors during warm ups & practice to rile them up. He even harassed a female swimmer at a previous year's world swim meet, which led to filing a formal complaint against him. He's been suspended for driving without a license & banned for using stimulants. And he's been made to apologize for making offensive remarks about Japan's national anthem, calling it "ugly". I don't know the guy, but he just seems like a messed up bully to me, & I hate bullies.
Maybe he was just trying to get attention. Maybe he never learned courtesy & the social skills to deal with people. Or maybe he's just a jackass. All I know is that most of the commentators were saying that China’s Sun Yang, 24, defending London 2012 gold medalist & current world champion in the event, was sure to win gold. I, on the other hand, was rooting for Australia's Mack Horton, 20.
And my support for Horton only multiplied when it was revealed that Sun Yang tried to rile Horton up during a practice session this week, splashing water at Horton to mess with him. But Horton wasn't distracted nor took the bait. And when they faced off for the 400m freestyle race, I was rooting for the Aussie to win.
And right from the start, the two competitors kept pace with each other, letting others take the lead in the early laps. You could feel that they were both saving up their energy for the final lap. And as soon as it was the last lap, both exploded with speed, leaving the competition behind! At the last turn, Horton was ahead by a head! But Yang started to close the gap. And when they were just inches from the finish, it looked as if Yang would surge ahead, but Horton powered through & claimed the top spot, winning him the gold! Italy’s Gabriele Detti placed third to take home bronze. Sun Yang settles for silver.
Women's 400M Individual Medley
The most spectacular win of the night went to Katinka Hosszu of Hungary. The "Iron Lady", Hosszu, who is coached & trained by her husband, led the field, then left them all behind as she burst forth in the final lap.
|Rio 2016 Olympics 6 Aug 2016 - Hosszu, Katinka - Swimming - Hungary - Women's 400m Individual Medley - Women's 400m Individual Medley Final - OAS - Olympic Aquatics Stadium |
Credit: Getty Images - Al Bello
There is rampant speculation about the way Hosszu's husband speaks (yells) at her during swim meets, but she insists that is the reason why she has improved her swimming dramatically. There is a difference between how her husband treats her when he's just her husband & how he acts when he is in coach mode. And that difference has made it possible for her to improve so dramatically well. She set a new world record time of 4:26.36, a full 4.79 seconds far ahead of silver medalist, United States' Maya DiRado, who finished at 4:31.15. Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain took bronze with her time of 4:32.39.
Women's 4x100M Freestyle Relay
And the women keep breaking records, as Australia's Emma McKeon, Brittany Elmslie, Bronte Campbell and Cate Campbell, recorded times under 54 seconds in each of their 100 meters, leaving the rest of the field behind to battle for silver & bronze. Successfully defending their London 2012 champion title, Australia's women set a new world record of 3:30.65. The American team of Simone Manuel, Abbey Weitzel, Dana Vollmer, & Katie Ledecky finished at 3:31.89, earning silver.
|Australia's Cate Campbell starts her final leg of the 4 x 100m freestyle championship final swimming competition ahead of USA's Katie Ledecky at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.|
(Credit: AP / Morry Gash)
Sandrine Mainville, Chantal van Landeghem, Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak swam for Canada, finishing at 3:32.89. This bronze is Canada's first medal at the Rio 2016 Games. It is also the first women's swimming medal for Canada since Marianne Limpert won silver in the 200m individual medley at Atlanta 1996, twenty years ago! And the first medal in this event since Canada's Becky Smith, Gail Amundrud, Barbara Clark and Anne Jardin won bronze at the Montreal 1976, forty years ago! Congratulations ladies on a fantastic race!
And so ends a spectacular first day of competition at the Rio Olympics. It was a wild & unpredictable ride where some rose above the rest & made their dreams come true, while others fell in their attempt for glory. No one is guaranteed a medal, but they're all given an opportunity. Anything can happen. And anything did happen. And those who prepared, seized the moment, took a risk, & made the right moves won the day & achieved their Olympics moment. Today, champions were made, & more will be forged in the days to come. Good luck, Olympians!