It was another day of action & amazing feats on Day 11 of the Rio Olympics.
First up, the behind the scenes news.
The Brazilians were dealt a tough day today, as their women's soccer team & one women's beach volleyball team were knocked out of gold medal contention.
In women's soccer, the scoreless game was decided by penalty kicks. And Sweden wins with penalties 4-3, with Lisa Dahlkvist making the winning penalty shot. Brazil will play for bronze while the Swedes play for gold for the first time ever.
Pia Mariane Sundhage coached the US team from 2008-2012, to two Olympics gold. Now she has an opportunity to do the same for her home country of Sweden.
In women's beach volleyball, the German team of Laura Ludwig & Kira Walkenhorst upset top-ranked Brazilians Larissa and Talita. The Germans will play for gold, while the Brazilians must battle for bronze.
But good news, the other Brazilian beach volleyball team of number two ranked Agatha Bednarczuk & Barbara Seixas defeat Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings & April Ross, denying Kerri Walsh Jennings an opportunity for a fourth Olympics gold. The Americans will now face off against the top ranked Brazilian team of Larissa Franca & Talita Antunes for bronze.
Over on the men's side, Americans Phil Dalhausser & Nick Lucerna have been ousted by top ranked Alison Cerutti & Bruno Schmidt of Brazil in the quarterfinals.
In more positive news, a spectacular crash happened in the women's 5000m race qualifier led to an even more astonishing action. Abbey D’Agostino of the U.S. & Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand weren't expected to medal. But when Hamblin slowed down to avoid crashing into the runner ahead of her, D’Agostino, who was right behind, crashed hard into Hamblin, causing both distance runners to fall.
At first, Hamblin was dazed, didn't understand how she ended up on the ground. Then D’Agostino shook Hamblin's shoulder & told her to get up, they had to finish the race.
Hamblin then realized that D’Agostino was right. This was the Olympics. They had to finish. D’Agostino helped Hamblin up. But D’Agostino was suffering a lot of pain. At first Hamblin tried to help her to make the finish line, but D’Agostino convinced Hamblin to go ahead & finish first. Hamblin crossed first, then waited for D’Agostino to hobble across the line. The two competitors hugged before D’Agostino was hauled off in a wheelchair.
Hamblin told reporters that what D’Agostino did for her was amazing, in keeping with the true spirit of the Olympics. They didn't know each other, but at the most crucial time when she was down, D’Agostino was able to get Hamblin to pick herself back up, get it together, & finish the race.
A protest launched resulted in both Hamblin, D’Agostino, & Jennifer Wenth of Austria, who was also affected by the crash, to advance to the final on Friday. Best of luck to these ladies who exemplified the cooperative & sportsmanship spirit of the Olympics. As wonderful as it is to win medals & break records, it's how you treat people that means more & separates the great heroes from mere champions.
And now, to the games that were contested.
Men's canoe single 1,000-meter sprint
In the exciting men's C1 1000m sprint, Germany's Sebastian Brendel successfully defended his London 2012 title, taking gold. He started the race off strong & never let up.
Home crowd favorite, Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos of Brazil, earns the silver, the first canoeing medal for Brazil at the Rio games. And Moldova's Serghei Tarnovschi takes the bronze, the first Rio medal for Moldova, the second canoe sprint medal in its history. Serghei Tarnovschi represented Ukraine in 2013, but in 2014, he started representing Moldova.
Women's kayak double 500-meter sprint
It was a sensational women kayak double 500 meter sprint that needed a foto finish to determine the winners! And when the officials analyzed the foto finish, Gabriella Szabo & Danuta Kozak of Hungary defeat London 2012 champions Tina Dietze & Franziska Weber of Germany. The Hungarians take gold; the Germans, silver. Karolina Naja & Beata Mikolajczyk of Poland take bronze, repeating their London 2012 bronze win.
Gabriella Szabo & Danuta Kozak have been on the teams that won a K4 500m Beijing 2008 silver, & a K4 500m London 2012 gold. Danuta Kozak won an individual gold at London 2012 in the K1 500m event.
Tina Dietze & Franziska Weber, London 2012 champions, also were on the K4 500m London 2012 silver medalists team.
Karolina Naja & Beata Mikolajczyk of Poland are London 2012 bronze medalists, with Beata Mikolajczyk winning silver at Beijing 2008 with a different partner.
Women's kayak single 200-meter sprint
Despite a slow start, New Zealand's Lisa Carrington successfully defends her London 2012 title, taking gold. Marta Walczykiewicz of Poland takes silver. And London 2012 silver medalist (for Ukraine) Inna Osypenko-Radomska claims bronze for Azerbaijan, that country's first canoe sprint medal in any event.
Inna Osypenko-Radomska has a long history of medaling for Ukraine since an Athens 2004 bronze in K4 500m, a gold at Beijing 2008 for K1 500m, & two silvers for London 2012 in K1 500m & K1 200m. Due to difficulty in getting funding & support for training, she & other top athletes accepted Azerbaijani aid to support their training & families in exchange for becoming Azerbaijani citizens & representing Azerbaijan at Rio 2016.
It was a very difficult situation. But it was a necessary one for these athletes to achieve their Olympics dreams & look out for their family's & their own future. Sometimes, you make the hard choices to survive.
Men's kayak single 1,000-meter sprint
In the men's 1000-meter kayak, Spain's Marcus Walz, 21, put in a stunning late burst of speed to go from fifth to first, & claiming gold in 3:31.447, finishing 0.698 seconds ahead of the Czech Republic's Josef Dostal in another tight race. Russia's Roman Anoshkin, 28, was third for bronze.
Marcus Walz was born in Oxford, England to an English father & German mother, who relocated & established residency in Majorca when Walz was 3 months old. Walz wasn't sure he was good enough for Olympics, but his hard training leading up to the games paid off in gold.
Josef Dostal, 23, is a London 2012 bronze medalist for the K4 1000m event.
Men's Individual parallel bars
In men's parallel bars event, Oleg Verniaiev, Ukraine, was the only gymnast to score over 16 when he posted 16.041 on the scoreboard. He won gold.
Danell Leyva, United States, who fell during the team event on the high bar, redeems himself with a silver.
And David Belyavskiy, Russia, takes bronze.
Germany's Fabian Hambuechen, Beijing 2008 bronze medalist & London 2012 silver medalist, has upgraded to gold in the high bar. Now he has a medal of every color from three Olympics.
Danell Leyva, US, the London 2012 all around bronze medalist, wins a silver to add to his parallel bars silver he won earlier the same day on Tuesday. Leyva came as an alternate, activated at the last minute when John Orozco tore his anterior cruciate ligament in training for the Games back in July.
And Nile Wilson wins Great Britain's first medal in high bar, a bronze. It is the first time Great Britain has won a medal in high bar & the first time a British gymnast has qualified for the high bar.
Women's Individual floor exercise
Simone Biles, United States, won her fifth medal, a fourth gold, in floor exercise at the Rio Olympics. Aly Raisman, United States, defending London 2012 champion, settles for silver. And Amy Tinkler, Great Britain, pulls off an amazing performance to win a surprise bronze, stunning the competition.
Women's Laser Radial
Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands, London 2012 silver medalist, has won the gold in women's laser radial. What is a laser radial? It's a small sailing dinghy, sailed by one person.
Annalise Murphy takes silver, a second medal for Ireland at the Rio games, having won silver last week in lightweight men’s double sculls by rowers Paul & Gary O’Donovan.
Anne-Marie Rindom, Denmark, takes bronze.
Men's Laser Dinghy
Over on the men's side, Tom Burton, Australia, wins gold. The Australian underdog took a spectacular gamble, starting behind leader Tonči Stipanović, Croatia, then sailing down wind in front of Tonči Stipanović, hoping that Stipanović would make contact, earning a penalty for Stipanović. It worked. Stipanović made contact, Burton protested, then Stipanović had to make a penalty turn.
To secure the gold, Burton had to put five boats between him & Stipanović. He needed to pass New Zealand’s Sam Meech to make that happen. Meech was in third, but in an incredible stroke of luck, Meech slows down, allowing Burton to pass him & race his way to gold!
Tonči Stipanović, Croatia, takes silver. And Sam Meech, New Zealand, claims bronze.
In another dinghy class race, Finn, Giles Scott has won gold, continuing Great Britain's fifth consecutive Olympics win in the event, a dynasty that started at Sydney 2000.
Vasilij Žbogar, Slovenia, adds a Finn silver to his Laser bronze at Athens 2004 & Laser silver at Beijing 2008.
And Caleb Paine wins the bronze, the first sailing medal for the US since Beijing 2008.
Mixed Nacra 17 (multihull)
In this catamaran race with male & female sailors, Sydney cousins, Jason Waterhouse & Lisa Darmanin sailed themselves to silver, one point away from gold, winning a tie with Austria by crossing the final race finish line in second place, ahead of Austria. The second place finish in the final race wasn't enough to win gold, but it was just enough to get silver.
Argentine helmsman Santiago Lange & crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli, a veteran of three Olympics, won gold in the Nacra 17 mixed-sex catamaran class at the Rio 2016 Olympics through a brilliant strategy. As the race started, they pulled away from the fleet, opting to catch the fiercer winds on the outer edge of the bay. And it paid off, when halfway through the race, the Argentinians cut back into the race, driven by the faster winds, crossing the finish line with enough of a lead over the 12 preliminary races to claim gold.
Austria's Thomas Zajac & Tanja Frank claim bronze, marking their country's first medal of the Rio 2016 Games.
54 year old Santiago Lange credits his sons Yago & Klaus, representing Argentina in the men's 49er two-person skiff, for helping him build his strength & confidence to compete again. Santiago Lange won bronzes at Athens 2004 & Beijing 2008 in the discontinued tornado class. This was his first time racing in a new class & with a female partner. And it paid off.
But his biggest battle of all was losing half a lung to cancer last year. Having his sons at the medal ceremony for the first time makes this moment the best of his Olympics career. As he crossed the finish line in 6th, the minimum needed to keep their gold medal standing alive, his son Yago & Klaus swam out to meet him, & the sailor broke down into tears, grateful to be alive.
His sailing partner Cecilia Carranza Saroli says that Santiago Lange's positivity is infectious. Santiago Lange hopes that his accomplishment can inspire other cancer patients to see what is possible & give them hope. What he has accomplished gives everyone hope. Congratulations!
Men's open water marathon 10-kilometer
Ferry Weertman, Netherlands, wins the rough & tumble open water 10km swim, by out touching two time world champion & eldest swimmer competing at the event, Spyridon Gianniotis,36, of Greece. A foto finish determined the winner & order of finish for the mad rush across the finish line.
France's Marc-Antoine Olivier barely outreached China's Zu Lijun & Great Britain's Jack Burnell for the bronze.
Tunisian Oussama Mellouli--Beijing 2008 gold medalist in the 1500m freestyle & London 2012 1500m freestyle bronze & 10km open water gold medalist--the first person to ever stand on the podium in both indoors & open water events at the same Olympics, London 2012, ended up 12th--after a near finish line tussle with Jack Burnell of Great Britain. It was Burnell's second yellow card in the race, consequently, he was then disqualified to 25th, last place.
American Jordan Wilimovsky, 22, reigning world champion, was fifth.
Russia's Natalia Ishchenko & Svetlana Romashina successfully defend their London 2012 title, & they deliver Russia's fifth consecutive gold in the duet.
Huang Xuechen & Sun Wenyan of China won silver. And Japan returns to the Olympics podium--after a disappointing failure to medal at London 2012--with a bronze win by Yukiko Inui & Risako Mitsui.
Credit must be given to Masayo Imura, the legendary Japanese synchronized swimming coach, who led the Japanese teams to a team bronze at Atlanta 1996, & took silvers in Sydney 2000 & in Athens 2004. They also won duet bronzes from the Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, & Barcelona 1992, with silvers in Sydney 2000 & Athens 2004.
At Beijing 2008, Japan took bronze in duet, & China, now under Imura's guidance, took bronze. At London 2012, China would repeat a bronze for duet but achieve a team silver, while Japan failed to make the podium in either event, causing furor in Japan over Imura's supposed betrayal.
In 2014, Imura was lured back to Japan, the immediate pay off was Japan winning bronze in duet & team at the world championship last year.
Track & Field
Men's triple jump
It's a one, two repeat for Americans Christian Taylor, world champion, & Will Claye, successfully defending their London 2012 titles, winning gold & silver respectively. Indoors world champion Dong Bin of China jumps to bronze.
Women's discus final
Sandra Perković, 26, of Croatia successfully defends her London 2012 title. After failing her first two throws, she was about to be eliminated when she made that last winning throw. She sees her colleagues like Melina Robert-Michon as an inspiration to keep going.
Melina Robert-Michon, 37, France's eldest track & field medal winner, wins a well earned silver. And Cuba’s Denia Caballero, world champion, takes bronze.
Women's 1,500-meter final
22 year old Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Kenya, claimed gold when she overtook world record holder, Genzebe Dibaba, 25, of Ethiopia in the final lap. Dibaba settles for silver.
And 23 year old Jennifer Simpson, United States, takes bronze & becomes the first American woman to medal in the 1500m event.
A cloud of suspicion hangs over the 1500 meter race, as so many competitors from London 2012 have been banned for doping, including Asli Cakir Alptekin, the winner who was stripped of her gold. Gamze Bulut, the second place runner, is also under investigation for doping from the London 2012 games. Plus two months ago, Genzebe Dibaba's coach, Jama Aden, was arrested on suspicion of having performance-enhancing drugs. The banned athletes all face losing medals & being stripped of all records they established during the doping period. There's a good chance the doping will also affect the results here in Rio.
Men's Lightweight 60kg
Robson Conceicao, born in poverty in Bahia, delivered Brazil's first ever Olympics boxing medal in the lightweight 60kg division. He credits Bahia & the Cuban coaches who teach Cuban boxing to help the impoverished youth escape the slums. The 27-year-old three-time Olympian blends Cuban boxing with Brazilian martial arts to successfully win the first two rounds. Sofiane Oumiha, France, tried to rally back in the final round, bit it was too late. Robson Conceicao clearly won the match 3-0, & it was celebrated by the huge Brazilian crowd. They might not understand boxing, but they appreciate it now & respect the sport, whose strongest base is Bahia.
After he was announced as the winner, Robson Conceicao fell to his knees, then got up to jump on the turn buckle to wave at the ecstatic singing, cheering crowd before he climbed out of the ring to kiss his young daughter, Sofia, & his wife, Erika Mattos, who is also a boxer.
Sofiane Oumiha takes the silver for France. And the bronzes were won by Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu, Mongolia, & Lázaro Álvarez, Cuba.
Davor Stefanek won Serbia's first gold of these Olympics on Tuesday when he defeated Armenian Migran Arutyunyan in the 66-kilogram division of the Greco-Roman wrestling. He was very happy. Stefanek joined Milica Mandic, who won gold in taekwondo in 2012, as Serbia's only Olympic champions.
And silver medalist Migran Arutyunyan of Armenia is not happy. He launched an unsuccessful protest, then spoke to reporters saying that the judges for some reason, refuse to give him the top spot he deserved, like they did at the European & world championships.
I'm going to be honest. I don't get the scoring system in Greco-Roman wrestling. Most times, it looks like two men dry humping each other. And every time they make a throw or take down that I recognize from other martial arts, somehow, it's ruled illegal or it results in penalties, not rewards. So I'm not the best person to judge.
The bronzes went to Shmagi Bolkvadze, Georgia, & Rasul Chunayev, Azerbaijan.
In the 98kg division, Armenia's Artur Aleksanyan beat Cuban opponent Yasmany Lugo Cabrera for gold. Yasmany Lugo Cabrera takes silver for Cuba. Artur Aleksanyan, 24, celebrates Armenia's first wrestling gold in 20 years.
Aleksanyan raised eyebrows at the medals ceremony by wearing a shirt featuring a portrait of an Armenian soldier who was killed during fighting with neighboring Azerbaijan in April 2016. I have to be honest. I wasn't aware of the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan & Armenia. It seems terrible & costly for both sides. I hope they work out a peaceful solution & stop the ethic cleansing.
Celk Ildem of Turkey & Ghasem Rezaei of Iran won the bronzes.
Men's 105+-kilogram final
In a surprising upset over the heavily favored defending London 2012 champion Behdad Salimi of Iran, Lasha Talakhadze, 22, of Georgia has set a new world record in the over 105-kilogram weightlifting division with 473 total kg, taking the gold.
Salimi set the world record for the snatch with 216 kilos. But he could not complete any of his three attempts on the clean and jerk. He protested the judges decision rulings on but first two tries, but failed to complete a third & final attempt.
Gor Minasyan of Armenia won silver with 451kg & Georgia's Irakli Turmanidze took home the bronze with 448kg.
China once again dominates table tennis, easily defeating Germany on the gold medal match 3-0. Ning Ding, Shiwen Liu, & Xiaoxia Li take gold.
And Germany's Ying Han, Xiaona Shan, & Petrissa Solja settle for silver, the best result so far for Germany in table tennis.
15-year-old Mima Ito of Japan became the youngest ever Olympic table tennis medalist, helping her team of Ai Fukuhara, & Kasumi Ishikawa beat Singapore's Mengyu Yu, Tianwei Feng, & Yihan Zhou 3-1 for bronze.
China has won 26 out of 30 golds awarded in table tennis since the sport joined the Olympic program in 1988, claiming gold & silver in both singles events in Rio so far. China is favored to win the men’s team title, too.
There will be no China medal sweep in badminton!
China missed out on Olympic women’s doubles badminton gold for the first time since the 1992 Barcelona Games on Tuesday when Tang Yuanting & Yu Yang lost in the semi-finals to Denmark’s Kamilla Rytter Juhl & Christinna Pedersen. The Danes will face Japan's Misaki Matsutomo & Ayaka Takahashi in the upcoming gold match.
China's Tang Yuanting & Yu Yang will play Jung Kyung-eun & Shin Seung-chan of South Korea in the upcoming bronze match.
More badminton bad news for China in the mixed doubles. Zhang Nan & Zhao Yunlei had to beat fellow Chinese compatriots Xu Chen & Ma Jin for the bronze Tuesday.
It was a shocking loss in the semifinals to Malaysia & Indonesia that sent top ranked London 2012 champions Zhang Nan & Zhao Yunlei against Chinese London 2012 silver medalists Xu Chen & Ma Jin.
Malaysia's Chan Peng Soon & Goh Liu Ying defeated Xu Chen & Ma Jin to reach the gold medal final against Indonesia's Tontowi Ahmad & Lilyana Natsir, who in turn defeated Zhang Nan & Zhao Yunlei. The gold medal match will take place Wednesday.
Men's 3-meter springboard
21 year old Cao Yuan wins the 3 meter springboard dive easily, delivering China's fifth gold medal of Rio. It is his first individual gold, having won London 2012 gold in the 10 meter synchronized diving, & a bronze at Rio 2016 in the 3 meter springboard synchronized diving.
|Yuan Cao of China competes in the Men's Diving 3m Springboard semi final at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Aug. 15, 2016 - Source: Adam Pretty/Getty Images South America)|
The 3 meter springboard synchronized diving Rio 2016 champion Jack Laugher, Great Britain, gets a silver. And Patrick Hausding of Germany, Beijing 2008 10m synchronized diving silver medalist, gets an individual bronze.
After two false starts, Jason Kenny, Great Britain, wins his third gold of the Rio games in the keirin. He adds to his Rio 2016 individual & team sprint golds. He has two golds from London 2012 in the individual & team sprints, & another gold for team sprint from Beijing 2008. Now he has six golds. His fiancee, Laura Trott, won the women's omnium, making it her fourth gold, added to a Rio 2016 team pursuit & two London 2012 golds for omnium & team pursuit.
Matthijs Buchli, Netherlands, takes silver. And Azizulhasni Awang, Malaysia, takes the bronze.
It was a spectacular race in women's sprint, when Germany's Kristina Vogel lost her bike seat as she raced across the finish line, taking from Rebecca James, Britain, the gold. Kristina Vogel has a gold in team sprint from London 2012 & a bronze in team sprint at Rio 2016.
Rebecca James adds silver to Rio 2016 silver.
And Katy Marchant, Britain, beats Elis Ligtlee, Netherlands, the Rio 2016 keirin champion, for the bronze.
Laura Trott, Great Britain, successfully defends her London 2012 omnium title, winning gold. She adds to her Rio 2016 team pursuit gold & her London 2012 omnium & team pursuit golds. She becomes the first British woman to win four golds!
Bronze went to Jolien D'hoore, Belgium. And silver went to Sarah Hammer, United States, silver queen, with two silvers from London 2012 in team pursuit & omnium, & another Rio 2016 silver in team pursuit!
Track & Field
Men's high jump final
26 year old Derek Drouin won Canada's third Rio 2016 gold in the high jump. Canada has golds from Rosie MacLennan in women's trampoline & Penny Oleksiak winning a tied gold in the 100m freestyle. Derek Drouin was in a three way bronze tie at London 2012 & is the current world champion.
|Derek Drouin of Canada competes during the Men's High Jump Final on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Aug. 15, 2016 - Source: Ian Walton/Getty Images South America)|
Mutaz Essa Barshim, 25, of Qatar, in a three way tie for bronze at London 2012, upgrades to silver.
And 26 year old Bohdan Bondarenko, Ukraine, takes bronze.
Men's 110-meter hurdles
Finally, in men's 110 meter hurdles, world indoor champion Omar McLeod wins Jamaica's first gold in the event.
Orlando Ortega, the Cuban defector representing Spain, gets silver. France's Dimitri Bascou takes bronze, ahead of compatriot Pascal Martinot-Lagarde.
Fifth was USA's Devon Allen. It was a great effort by the first time Olympian. With the exception of the 1980 Moscow Games, which the US boycotted, this is the first time the United States didn't have a medalist in the 120-year history of the 110 meter hurdles at the Olympics.
Out of all the track events, I think that hurdles (& steeplechase) are the craziest & most dangerous. Why, for gawd's sake, would you want to risk smashing your sensitive reproductive parts against hard obstacles as you run & try to jump over a bunch of them? It's not worth a gold medal! It's just asking for trouble & a whole lot of pain. And someone always crashes painfully hard.
And so ends another rollercoaster day of competition as the athletes thrill us & surprise us in their quest for gold & glory. It's winding down now. The games will be over by the weekend. Until then, best of luck to those still competing!