9 August 2016 Tuesday. Day 4 of the Rio Olympics
Some fantastic performances on Day 4 of the Rio Olympics.
Equestrian has three disciplines: eventing, dressage, and jumping, all of them with individual and team competitors. It is the only sport in the Olympics were animals compete & are considered athletes. It is also the only sport where men & women compete with each other.
Today, awards were handed out in the eventing team & individual contests. Eventing is a three day, three-part equestrian sport that combines rider’s scores from dressage, cross-country, & show jumping to determine the champion rider/horse combination.
Dressage is the most technical of the three stages, which requires riders to put their horses through a series of technical exercises in an arena setting, to determine precision, how well they execute the required tasks.
Cross-country, the second phase, is the most difficult due to its dangerous nature & speed. The horse & rider gallop through a pre-determined course that features obstacles, such as logs, ditches, jumps, water, etc.
The third day of competition consists of show jumping. Olympic level fences are 4-foot-3, & there are approximately 15 obstacles through which riders must guide their horse to jump over.
I have to admit that I love seeing the horses perform & race through obstacles & jump fences. But the truth is, this is one of the most dangerous sports, for both horse & rider, especially during the cross-country phase. And all that running & jumping & dangerous obstacles can hurt the horse & rider. And there have been some serious injuries. And even though there are vets present to ensure the safety & well being of the horses--& to make sure the horses aren't drugged--I can't help but wonder if the horses would rather be doing something else.
But awards were earned today in the equestrian eventing team & individual events.
Equestrian Eventing Team
It was a dramatic show jumping final today, with Australia & New Zealand leading & France in third. The defending London 2012 champions, Germany, had imploded the past two days, landing them in fourth.
But after Australia & New Zealand riders knocked down rails, the path was clear for France to leap up to the top of the podium, getting the gold. Germany manages to jump to silver, & Australia takes the bronze after an agonizing ordeal for New Zealand, whose rider knocked down three rails, dropping them to fourth.
Gold to the French team:
Karim Laghouag on Entebbe
Thibaut Vallette on Qing du Briot
Mathieu Lemoine on Bart L
Astier Nicolas on Piaf De B'Neville
Silver to the German team:
Julia Krajewski on Samourai du Thot
Sandra Auffarth on Opgun Louvo
Ingrid Klimke on Hale-Bob Old
Michael Jung on Sam FBW
Bronze to the Aussies:
Shane Rose on CP Qualified
Stuart Tinney on Pluto Mio
Sam Griffiths on Paulank Brockagh
Christopher Burton on Santano II
Equestrian Eventing Individual
Defending London 2012 champions Michael Jung of Germany & Sam FBW won a second successive equestrian gold medal in eventing, with another clear round in show jumping. It is worth noting that Jung only turned to Sam, the 16-year-old German Sport Horse he rode to win gold in London, a week before the animals were due to fly to Rio. His first and younger choice, Takinou, had suffered an infection.
Nicolas Astier & Piaf de B'Neville of France win silver to go with their eventing team gold.
Phillip Dutton of the United States won bronze on Mighty Nice. Dutton, a six-time Olympian, had previously won gold twice (Atlanta 1996 & Sydney 2000) for his native Australia, before becoming an American citizen & competing for the United States the last three Olympics. The oldest American athlete brings home the bronze.
Gymnastics Women's Team
The heavily favored US team successfully defends their London 2012 gold, winning over second place Russia by an 8.2-point margin:
Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, & Aly Raisman.
The surprise Russian team soared to silver:
Angelina Melnikova, Aliya Mustafina, Maria Paseka, Daria Spiridonova, & Seda Tutkhalyan.
And China ends up with bronze:
Fan Yilin, Mao Yi, Shang Chunsong, Tan Jiaxin, & Wang Yan.
It is also the end of an era. Martha Karolyi, the USA team’s national coordinator, has all ready made it known that this was her last international event, planning to retire after the Olympics. Karolyi has been the driving force that has turned the American women's gymnastics team into the most elite team over the past decade. It will have to be someone extraordinarily special to replace her & keep up the outstanding standards of American women's gymnastics.
Diving Women's 10m Synchronized Platform
For the third straight Olympics in a row, China has won the event. Chen Ruolin & Liu Huixia won gold, doing incredibly challenging dives that put them more than ten points above their closest competitors. This is Chen's third gold in the event, having won with a different partner at Beijing 2008 & London 2012. China is now 3-3 on their quest to sweep all diving gold.
Cheong Jun Hoong & Pandelela Rinong Pamg bring Malaysia the silver.
And Canadians Meaghan Benfeito & Roseline Filion repeated as bronze medalists in the Olympics, having also won bronze at London 2012.
Women's Weightlifting 63-kilogram
China's Deng Wei set a new world record of 262kg over two lifts, earning her the gold. North Korea's Choe Hyo Sim takes the silver. Kazakhstan's Karina Goricheva won the bronze.
Weightlifting has been rocked by drug cheat scandals, especially hard hit is this women's division. Kazakhstan's 2012 gold medalist Maiya Maneza failed a drug test, & two of the top four from last year's championship are also out due to doping.
Men's Weightlifting 69-kilogram
China's Shi Zhiyong won gold, making it the fourth consecutive gold for China in the event, & the most wins for any nation in this event. Turkey's Daniyar Ismayilov wins silver. And Izzat Artykov of Kyrgyzstan takes the bronze, his country's first ever Olympics medal.
Women’s 25mm Pistol
Anna Korakaki wins gold, the first Rio Olympics gold for Greece, adding to her own bronze from the 10m Air Pistol contested earlier in the games. It was a very tight match against Monica Karsch of Germany, who takes silver. And Heidi Diethelm Gerber of Switzerland wins bronze, beating China’s Zhang Jingjing, the number one ranked shooter in this event.
Men’s canoe single final
France's Denis Gargaud Chanut wins the gold men's canoe single. And it is the end of an era. Since Atlanta 1996, the event has been dominated by Slovakia's Michal Martikan (Atlanta 1996 & Beijing 2008) & France's Tony Estanguet (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, London 2012). This time, Estanguet has retired, & Martikan did not make the Slovakian team.
Slovakia's Matej Benus takes the silver, keeping the Slovakian reputation as a paddling powerhouse intact.
But Japan's Takuya Haneda had the most amazing moment. He cried tears of joy after the last competitor crossed the finish line, because he knew that he had made it on the podium with a bronze. Ten years ago, at 19, right after high school, he moved to Slovakia to train in canoeing. His coach, Milan Kuban, a former team mate of Martikan, the five-times Olympic medal winner in C1, has worked with Haneda for seven years, steering him to seventh place in the London Olympics & fifth in the 2014 worlds.
With this bronze, he becomes Japan's first ever athlete to medal in canoeing, the first Asian to ever medal in the event! He thanked his family & his coach for their support. He now has a bronze to show his family & supporters. And he looks to make a promising run for Tokyo 2020. I wish him luck & congratulate him. It's always a joy to see hardworking athletes succeed.
Fencing Men’s individual epee
An exciting series of matches in men's individual epee! Sangyoung Park, 20, ranked 21, who's been sidelined most of 2015 due to a knee injury, manages to beat all other higher ranked fencers, to go on to the final.
There, the youngest fencer faced off against the eldest, Geza Imre of Hungary Imre, 41, bronze medalist twenty years ago at Atlanta 1996 & a team silver at Athens 2004. This time, Imre adds silver to his medal winnings as Park gets South Korea its first medal in any epee competition.
France's top-ranked Gauthier Grumier won the bronze. No. 2 Enrico Garozzo of Italy was beaten by Park in the elimination rounds.
Tina Trstenjak won Slovenia's first medal of the Rio Olympics, with gold in the women's -63kg judo. The world champion overpowered France's Clarisse Agbegnenou to ensure victory. Agbegnenou's silver is France's first judo medal of the Rio Olympics.
Yarden Gerbi won Israel's first medal of the Games, a bronze. And Netherlands' Anicka van Emden won the second bronze.
Olympics Twister: Right foot on Yellow!
Russia's Khasan Khalmurzaev defeats American Travis Stevens in the gold match of men's judo 81kg. It is Travis Stevens' third Olympics, & his silver is the first American men's judo medal since Jimmy Pedro, the US team's head coach, won bronze at Athens 2004. No American man has ever won gold.
The bronze medals were won by Sergiu Toma of the United Arab Emirates & Takanori Nagase of Japan. This is the UAE,'s second medal in any event.
Men's 200-meter butterfly
Michael Phelps of the US reclaims the top spot, getting gold. In a pseudo feud hyped up by the media, this was supposed to be the rematch between South Africa's Chad le Clos, London 2012 defending champion, versus Phelps, the London 2012 silver medalist. Phelps wins gold, but the most surprising results were Japan's Masato Sakai, who surged unexpectedly in the final yards to clinch the silver. Then Hungarian Tamas Kenderesi follows immediately for the bronze!
Women's 200-meter freestyle
Meanwhile, in a really tight race, Katie Ledecky, of the United States wins gold in the 200m freestyle. She adds to her Rio 2016 4x100m freestyle relay silver, Rio 2016 400m freestyle gold, & London 2012 800m freestyle gold.
Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, the record holder of Rio 2016 100m butterfly gold medalist, gets silver.
Emma McKeon of Australia gets the bronze to add to her Rio 2016 gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Women's 200-meter Individual Medley
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu won the 200-meter individual medley, adding another gold to her 400m IM gold & 100m backstroke gold won at Rio 2016. It is a great relief for Hosszu, who went to London 2012 with big expectations, but fell apart instead.
Hosszu still has the 200m back and 200m butterfly on her Rio 2016 schedule. Known as the Iron Lady for her grueling training schedule, she is coached by her American-born husband, Shane Tusup. The couple met as students at the University of Southern California.
Siobhan-Marie O'Connor of Great Britain claims silver.
Maya DiRado of the US takes bronze, adding to the silver she won at the 400m medley.
Men's 4x200-meter freestyle
Michael Phelps had just over an hour to prepare to swim the anchor leg of the men's 4x200-meter freestyle after winning the 200-meter butterfly. Joined by Conor Dwyer, newcomer Townley Hass, & fellow rival & friend, Ryan Lochte, they won the gold with a sizeable lead over the other teams. This is the fourth consecutive gold the US has won in the event. This is Phelps 25th medal, 21st gold.
The surprise silver medal winners were Great Britain's Stephen Milne, Duncan Scott, Daniel Wallace, & James Guy who surged ahead of the other teams to claim silver.
Japan's Kosuke Hagino, Naito Ehara, Yuki Kobori, & Takeshi Matsuda claim the bronze.
Day 4 of the Rio Olympics was full of action & surprises. More surprises & exciting events are sure to follow over the next few days. Here's to hoping for better weather for our boating athletes! And good luck to all who are still in competition!