There were some great action Friday as the Olympics winds down. The Closing Ceremony is Sunday.
First up, the news.
Ryan Lochte has issued an apology over how he & his swim mates mishandled a local dispute in a gas station after a night of partying. They got drunk, stopped to use a gas station restroom, but the outside restroom door was locked, so they break down the door & damage a soap dispenser. The gas station employees stop them from leaving, security even using a gun to keep them from leaving, then they all negotiate a settlement of about $50 with the help of a customer interpreting, & the matter is considered settled before the police arrive. The swimmers return to the athletes village.
That would've been the end of the matter, except the swimmers sensationalize the story & embellish it to the point where they claimed that they were robbed by armed imposters wearing security uniforms who pulled their taxi over on way way back to the athletes village. This caused a furor as local law enforcement & Rio Olympics organizers scrambled to find the alleged armed robbers & issued an apology to the swimmers for the "robbery".
The investigation has now revealed the facts, & two of the swimmers Gunnar Bentz & Jack Conger, returned to the U.S. after being prevented from leaving Brazil 24 hours earlier. Ryan Lochte was all ready in the US before a judge served a warrant for the swimmers passports to be seized so that they remain in a Brazil while the investigation continues. Jimmy Feigen, remains in Brazil & reached an agreement to pay a fine of 35,000 reals, about $10,800, for falsely reporting a crime. The money will go to charity.
The US swim federation & the USOC have apologized for the actions of the swimmers & are reviewing the matter for further possible sanctions. The IOC & the Rio organizers have accepted the apologies & want to move forward & not let the focus be on this terrible judgement call of drunk idiots but instead, the focus should be on the athletes & their accomplishments.
In athletes related news,Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, the pole-vault world record holder, says she is retiring from competing in the sport. Isinbayeva, who has never failed a doping test, was elected by the athletes to be an athletes' representative on the International Olympic Committee on Thursday.
Yelena Isinbayeva is the world record holder & double Olympics champion for Athens 2004 & Beijing 2008, bronze at London 2012, & has never tested positive for prohibited substances. Unfortunately & unfairly, she was banned along with the majority of the Russian track team (with one lone exception out of the 68). She tried to appeal, but her appeal was unjustly rejected. Her ban was not because of a doping violation, but collateral damage against Russia's state wide doping system.
It is a tragedy & injustice to ban such a talented athlete just because the governing authorities are making a point & flexing their powers. If you're going to ban people, do it because they're guilty, don't hurt the innocent & law abiding athletes in your war against the criminals. It damages credibility & breeds dissension & causes further conflicts.
Yelena Isinbayeva is well regarded by her peers & other athletes. Her election to the IOC athletes commission to serve 8 years as the liason between athletes & Olympic organizers is a testament to the faith & high regard the athletes have in her. Along with Yelena Isinbayeva, Britta Heidemann from Germany (fencing), Seug-min Ryu from Korea (table tennis), & Daniel Gyurta from Hungary (swimming) were all elected by the athletes to represent them on the IOC athletes commission to speak on behalf of the athletes.
Italy has ended America's run for gold in men's volleyball. It was back & forth over four sets but in the fifth & final set, the Italian squad was more organized & sharper in their defense & attacks, taking advantage of the Americans scattered & sluggish response. In the end, the Italians outlasted the Americans & the Italians win the match.
And now to the games.
Women's singles gold medal match
Top ranked Carolina Marin of Spain has beaten number ten ranked Pusarla Venkata Sindhu of India for the gold in women's singles badminton. Sindhu has had a spectacular run, defeating players like Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the semifinals. Sindhu claims silver for India. Marin takes gold.
In the first set, Sindhu rallied to tie the game at 19. Then, in rapid succession, she took two points to stun the Spaniard, 21-19.
An aggressive Marin fights back to win the second set 21-12. In the deciding set, Sindhu came back from a deficit & tied the match at 10 after a long, exciting rally that saw repeated smashes and several lunging saves. But Marin opened another lead & Sindhu couldn't repsond fast enough, losing the final set 21-15. It was a magnificent match.
Men's doubles gold medal match
China's Fu Haifeng & Zhang Nan win gold in the men's doubles badminton event, coming from behind to beat Malaysia's Goh V Shem & Tan Wee Kiong, 2-1. China wins their first gold on badminton in Rio, salvaging a bit of a disappointing showing at Rio. Malaysia takes silver.
Meanwhile, Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei has beaten two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China in Olympic Badminton, avenging his last two losses to Lin in the Beijing 2008 & London 2012 Olympic finals. Lee will now face Chen Long of China, the second ranked player who defeated Lee at the world champions in 2014 & 2015. It will be a fantastic showdown!
|Team Italy competes in the Teams Free Routine final during the synchronised swimming event at the Maria Lenk Aquatics at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, 2016. / AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Aug. 18, 2016 - Source: AFP)|
China took the team event silver, adding it to the silver won in the duet Tuesday. Japan beat Ukraine to team bronze to add to their duet bronze, making it their first synchronized swimming team medal since Athens 2004.
Drama in the jump off!
The competition was so fierce that six riders tied for number one! A jump off was used to break the six way tie & determine who would end up on the podium & in what order.
Nick Skelton, 58, of Britain went first. He has a metal left hip, once broke his neck, & his back aches so much that he needs a stepladder to mount his horse, Big Star. But he was able to put in a clean run, cleared all his jumps, & finished at 42.82 seconds. His was the time the rest of the field would try to beat. He rode clean & fast, forcing the rest of the field to run faster & likely make mistakes.
Peder Fredricson, Sweden, went second & cleared all his jumps, but he finished in 43.35 seconds, earning him the second spot.
Eric Lamaze of Canada took bronze. The Beijing 2008 gold medalist caught a post late in his round but finished in 42.09 to earn a medal. After that, the rest of the field hit the posts in their jumps, ending any medal contention.
Defending London 2012 champion Steve Guerdat of Switzerland finished fourth. Fifth was Kent Harrington of the U.S., & sixth was Sheik Ali Al Thani of Qatar.
Nick Skelton wins Great Britain's first individual jumping gold. Peder Fredricson delivers Sweden the silver. And Canada's Eric Lamaze takes bronze.
Field Hockey (women)
In women's field hockey, Germany outscores New Zealand 2-1 to claim the bronze.
In the close gold medal match, the score was tied Great Britain 3 & the Netherlands 3. They had to go to a shootout, & Great Britain wins 2-0 over the Netherlands. Great Britain wins their first women's field hockey gold. The Netherlands, defending London 2012 & Beijing 2008 champions, settle for silver.
It was another fast & furious day of racing as BMX riders dashed & crashed on their races to the top of the podium.
In the women's race, defending London 2012 champion Mariana Pajón, Colombia, successfully defends her title to win the gold. Pajón took the lead from the start all the way to the finish line. Everyone else was playing catch up.
Alise Post, United States, takes silver. And Stefany Hernandez, Venezuela, claims the bronze.
On the men's side, the Americans lead the field from the start. And halfway through, Connor Fields takes the lead & holds it all the way to the finish line.
Jelle van Gorkom, Netherlands, surges ahead for silver. And a foto finish analysis was needed to determine that Carlos Ramirez, Colombia, takes the bronze, edging out the United States' Nic Long, who ends up fourth.
South Korea's Oh Hye-ri, 28, beat top ranked France's Haby Niare in the women's 67-kilogram division on Friday, giving South Korea its second gold medal of the Rio de Janeiro Games. Kim So-hui earned the first Taekwondo gold for South Korea in the women's light flyweight division on Wednesday. South Korea has also earned two bronze medals in taekwondo in the Rio games.
While she didn't score until the second round, Oh quickly landed numerous head shots within about 30 seconds to win 13-12.
Ruth Gbagbi of the Ivory Coast & Nur Tatar of Turkey won the bronze medals on Friday.
In the men's event, Cheick Sallah Sisse won the 80-kilogram division by beating London 2012 bronze medalist, Lutalo Muhammad of Great Britain, in the final, giving the Ivory Coast its first Olympic gold medal. Heartbreak for Muhammad, who was surprised by Sisse's last minute reverse turning kick that took gold for the Ivory Coast, leaving Great Britain the silver.
The bronzes went to Oussama Oueslati, Tunisia & Milad Beigi Harchegani, Azerbaijan.
Women's lightweight (60kg)
On her 24th birthday, Estelle Mossely of France gave herself the most awesome birthday present when she won gold in women's lightweight 60kg boxing division.
Mossely won over China's Junhua Lin by split decision. Each fighter won a scorecard 39-37, & one judge scored the fight 38-38. The Puerto Rican judge, who scored it a tie, got to choose the winner. And with the push of a blue button, picked Mossely, the first French woman to medal in Olympic boxing.
Tony Yoka, 24, Mossely's fiancee, was present to celebrate Mossely's gold. He himself just won his bout on two of three scorecards against Croatia's Filipto Hgrovic, which advances him to the super heavyweight final on Sunday against Britain's Joe Joyce.
Junhua Yin, China, takes silver. And Finnish fighter Mira Potkonen takes the first bronze. While Russian fighter Anastasii Beliakova, her left arm in a sling because of an injury suffered in a semifinal bout against Mossely, wins the second bronze.
Water polo (women)
It was a close game in the bronze match of women's water polo. In the end, Russia beat Hungary 19-18 in penalty shots to win bronze. It is Russia's first medal in the sport since another bronze at Sydney 2000.
Meanwhile in the gold medal match, the US, defending London 2012 champion, became the first two-time Olympic champion in women's water polo history, beating Italy, Athens 2004 champion, 12-5. Only four women from the London 2012 games returned on the US squad--Maggie Steffens, Kami Craig, Melissa Seidemann, & Courtney Mathewson. The US played smart, took the lead at 4-1 in the beginning & then kept increasing that lead. The US takes gold; Italy, silver.
It should be noted that behind this amazing, undefeated American team is a remarkable coach, Adam Krikorian, who experienced a tragic loss, yet kept sharp focus to help his team win at the Olympics. The day before the opening ceremony, he learned that his brother Blake had passed away suddenly from natural causes. He had to return home to deal with the sudden tragic loss & be back in time to see his team make it through every tough match on their way to gold.
His willingness to put aside his personal struggle to focus & guide his team to victory is a testament of his incredible strength & leadership. Not only did he have the support of his team, but they were inspired to rise above & do their best, to give it their all to achieve the goals & the gold they set out to capture. And they succeeded.
So now he can celebrate & he can mourn. He has helped his team win the gold. And now, he can breathe a bit & take some time to mourn the loss of his brother & find some comfort that he is not alone in his struggle. In life, there will be losses, there will be pain. But there will also be times to celebrate, to take joy in the beauty of life. So mourn the losses in life, because they hurt & they're never easy to accept. And when you can look up again, take the time to cherish life & your loved ones. Life is short, so make every moment count.
Women's combined (running and shooting)
Chloe Esposito won Australia's first gold in women's modern pentathlon. Her father & coach, Daniel, was a pentathlete at Los Angeles 1984. Her brother Max is competing on the men's side. The family moved to Hungary to train, & it's paid off.
Silver went to Elodie Clouvel, France. And bronze went to Oktawia Nowacka, Poland.
Men's freestyle 57 kg
Georgia’s Vladimir Khinchegashvili, world champion & London 2012 silver medalist, defeated Japan’s Rei Higuchi in the final of the men’s 57 kilograms freestyle wrestling. He earns Georgia's second Rio gold after Lasha Talakhadze's win in the men's over 105kg weightlifting event.
Rei Higuchi, Japan, takes silver. And the two bronzes went to Haji Aliyev, Azerbaijan, & Hassan Sabzali Rahimi, Iran.
Men's freestyle 74 kg
It was a thrilling gold medal match that was frequently punctuated by stops to fix Russia's Aniuar Geduev's bleeding cut above his eye. Geduev's cut came from a previous bout. And as the final match against Iran's Hassan Yazdani went on, the cut started bleeding, so the match was stopped to fix the bandaged cut to stop the bleeding. Soon, the medical stops got longer & more frequent, & the bandage got bigger til it resembled a helmet, covering Geduev's entire head, except form his face! And in between the stops, Geduev scored three take downs worth two points each. He was 6-0 in the first round. But Yazdani managed to score twice, to make it 6-4.
In the last five seconds of the gold match against Geduev, Yazdani scored a two point takedown, to tie 6-6. Since he got the final score, Yazdani gained the advantage on criteria & was awarded the win. Yazdani's win marked the first time that Iran won a freestyle wrestling gold since Alireza Dabir at Sydney 2000.
Russia's Aniuar Geduev, ranked number two in the world, takes silver. He managed to dispatch top ranked American Jordan Burroughs, defending London 2012 champion, out of the quarterfinals. Jordan Burroughs lost the repechage to Uzbekistan's Bekzod Abdurakhmanov, so Burroughs didn't make the bronze matches.
Bronze medals went to Azerbaijan's Jabrayil Hasanov & Turkey's Soner Demirtas.
Over in women's soccer, heartbreak for the host nation as Canada scores 2 goals to Brazil's 1. Canada takes bronze, just as they did in London 2012.
Meanwhile, Germany defeated Sweden, 2-1, to win the women's soccer gold medal for the first time in the Olympics. Sweden accidentally kicked the ball into their own goal, gifting Germany the second goal. It is the first time both Germany & Sweden have made it to a final. It is Sweden's first Olympic medal, a silver, in women's soccer.
Track and field
Men's 50-kilometer race walking
Believe it or not, there was some drama in men's 50km race walking. Yes, race walking! This is track & field's longest event, since walkers race (not run) on a 31 miles course! If you run, you're disqualified! It's a real powerwalk event! And today, it was the one of most dramatic races in the Olympics!
A little past the 35km (21 miles), the world record holder Yohann Diniz of France, who had a significant lead in the race, suddenly keeled over when he was stricken by apparent stomach problems. Race officials helped the gritty high-school sports coach back to his feet. He doused his head with a bottle of water & was up & walking again, but he still struggled & started to drop back.
That's when Evan Dunfee of Canada took action & led a five-man group, with reigning Olympic champion Jared Tallent of Australia & world champion Matej Toth from Slovakia, to bypass Diniz & take the lead.
In the end, world champion Matej Tóth, Slovakia, takes the gold. Defending London 2012 champion Jared Tallent, Australia, takes silver. And Hirooki Arai of Japan crossed the finish line third.
And this is where the drama kicked into high gear. In the final two kilometres of the 50km race, Dunfee lost stride after Hirooki Arai of Japan bumped him during a collision. Arai went on to cross the finish line third, in a time of three hours 41 minutes 24 seconds — 14 seconds ahead of Dunfee, who improved his Canadian record time to 3:41:38.
Arai was awarded bronze, but Canada protested & Arai was disqualified! Dunfee gets bumped up to bronze. But hold on! Japan appeals & wins, restoring Arai to bronze. Now Canada was going to appeal the appeal, but Dunfee, in a remarkable spirit of sportsmanship, decides not to appeal.
Dunfee is proud of his accomplishment, & his review of the video gives him doubt that Arai intentionally bumped him. He believes that they both have suffered enough & he was proud of his fourth place finish. He wouldn't have felt better about winning a medal he didn't rightfully earn, & it wasn't right to take it from someone who did not intend nor plan to bump him. It was an accident.
|Evan Dunfee of Canada competes in the Men's 50km Race Walk on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Pontal on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Aug. 18, 2016 - Source: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images South America)|
Evan Dunfee may not have an Olympic medal. But he is a hero for practicing the Olympic spirit. He is a true champion.
And just so you know, Yohann Diniz, survived his stomach ailment & finished a respectable eighth.
Women's 20-kilometer race walking
While there was less drama in the women's 20km (12.4 miles) race walk, there were still some fascinating developments. At the first half of the race, world champion Liu Hong of China, world silver medallist Lu Xiuzhi of China, World Race Walking Team Championships winner Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez of Mexico, & Italy’s Eleonora Giorgi formed a lead pack that kept a moderate pace, just fast enough to separate themselves from the pack, but slow enough to deal with the stifling heat.
Then at the 12km (about 7.456 miles), Italy’s Eleonora Giorgi was disqualified for loss of contact--the same thing happened at the 2015 world championship & the 2016 IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships!
By now, Liu & Gonzalez started to pick up the pace to thin out the lead pack. It eventually came down to Liu, Gonzalez, & Lu. Gonzalez pushed the pace & broke Lu, who settled into third place as Liu & Gonzalez kept pace with each other. And with only 40 meters left in the race, Liu surges forward & crosses the finish line first!
Hong Liu, China, powerwalks her way to gold. Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez, Mexico, struts to silver. And Xiuzhi Lu, China, gets bronze.
Men's 400-meter relay
It's official: The US men's 4x100 meter relay team is cursed!
The disqualification came after the U.S. exchanged the baton illegally outside the zone at the first change. As a result, the US is disqualified & Canada was elevated to the bronze-medal position.
It was the ninth time since 1995 that the U.S. men have been disqualified or failed to get the baton around at an Olympics or world championships. The last time the US made the podium was a silver at Athens 2004!
Since Beijing 2008, Jamica has been the reigning champion in the 4x100 meter relay. And Friday night, they were champions again. Jamaica's gold medal team: Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Nickel Ashmeade, Usain Bolt, with alternates Kemar Bailey-Cole, & Jevaughn Minzie finished at 37.27 seconds.
Usain Bolt has achieved his triple triple sprint. Gold in 100m, gold 200m, gold in 4x100m relay. He has nine golds in track & field.
The US team of Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, & Trayvon Bromell finished third. They went as far as to pose with flags & celebrate the bronze win. What a nightmare it was when they found out in a few minutes that they were disqualified for illegally passing the baton before the exchange zone! The US is appealing the ruling.
And now Canada is bumped up from fourth to bronze! Canada's bronze team: Akeem Haynes, Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, Andre de Grasse, with alternate Mobolade Ajomale finish at 37.64 seconds.
What is it with the US men's relay team & batons? Seriously!?! Who the hell did the US piss off that resulted in this curse? At least when it happened to the women, it was because of interference. And they silenced the critics by winning their race Friday. The men are cursed! Which is a lot easier to swallow than to admit that they just SUCK big time!
Women 5,000 meters
Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot, Kenya--London 2012 silver medalist 5000m & bronze in the 10000m, & Rio 2016 silver medalist in the 10000m--sets an Olympic record of 14:26:17 in the women's 5000 meter race. She overtook Almaz Ayana, Ethiopia, in the last lap & passed her up to cross the finish line first. Ayana had led the race until the last lap.
Hellen Onsando Obiri, Kenya, 14:29:77, took silver. And Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana--Rio 2016 gold 10000m--finished at 14:33:59, third for bronze.
Women's pole vault
Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece took gold. Sandi Morris of the US took silver. And Eliza McCartney of New Zealand takes bronze.
Defending London 2012 champion, American Jenn Suhr, didn't make the final cut. Cuba's Yarisley Silva, silver medalist in London 2012 & the reigning world champion was eliminated from the top three.
To be honest, it didn't feel like a true pole vault final without Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, double Olympics champion & multiple world champion. She was unfairly barred from competing at Rio, even though she has never tested positive for banned substances.
Women's 400-meter relay
The US women's 4x100m relay team silenced their critics by winning gold by a large margin, leaving the field behind as they charged down the track. They successfully defend their London 2012 title, & helped Allyson Felix win a record fifth Olympic gold.
The gold winning United States team: Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner, Tori Bowie, with alternate Morolake Akinosun finished at 41.01 seconds.
Second place silver team from Jamaica: Christania Williams, Elaine Thompson, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, with alternates Simone Facey, & Sashalee Forbes finished at 41.36 .
And Great Britain's bronze team: Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith, & Daryll Neita finished at 41.77 seconds.
And so ends another day of dramatic competition & exciting action as the Olympics winds down. Sunday is the closing ceremony. Just a few more events are left for the athletes to fight in their quest for gold. And we get to cheer them on & watch them do incredible feats.