More excitement on Day 6 of the Rio Olympics.
First up, the drama.
World Sailing, sailing's governing body, says Evi van Acker of Belgium, London 2012 bronze medalist, reported feeling ill after competing in the Laser Radial class on polluted Guanabara Bay. She was evaluated by the chief medical officer after she raced Wednesday. She was evaluated further by medical officials from the Belgian team later that night.
It's not immediately clear whether the illness is because of the polluted water. The Associated Press had done an independent study that found high levels of viruses & sometimes bacteria from human sewage in the water. So far, she is the only athlete to report being sick from the polluted waters.
Alex Schwazer of Italy, Beijing 2008 50km walk gold medalist, failed in his appeal to have a ban for doping overturned. He has a history of testing positive, leading to a ban from London 2012, & as recently in May, right after winning the world championship in Rome, he tested positive for steroids. He was banned for 8 years, & he attempted to have the ban lifted so he could compete in Rio. He claimed he didn't take the steroids knowingly, but given that he just got done serving a three years nine months ban for using the illegal blood booster, erythropoietin, & other evidence, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the 8 year ban.
In more serious news, three Rio police officers are recovering after being ambushed in a slum. They were lost in a favela when shots were fired at them. One officer is recovering from surgery for a head injury. The police have mobilized in numbers in response.
In other disturbing news, two Olympic boxers who were arrested on allegations of sexual assault have been released & one is set to fight on Thursday. Jonas Junius of Namibia & Hassan Saada of Morocco were released from police custody on Thursday morning.
Junius all ready had a weigh in to fight French boxer Hassan Amzile today. The IOC says that the legal process/criminal investigation is ongoing. The IOC's position is that Junius hasn't been found guilty yet, so he can compete. Junius, who was Namibia's flag at the opening ceremony, was arrested Monday & accused of sexually attacking two housekeepers in the athletes village. Saada was arrested last Friday on allegations that he also sexually assaulted two Brazilian housekeepers in the village.
In other behind the scenes news, the IOC reports that three of the four cities bidding for the 2024 Olympics have been reprimanded for inviting media to their hospitality houses in Rio de Janeiro. This is not allowed!
Los Angeles, Paris, & Rome received the warning from the International Olympic Committee. The fourth bid city, Budapest, Hungary, was not involved.
And now to the games:
First up, the Olympic Regatta is underway after adverse weather forced scheduling changes. But we begin with the canoe/kayak sports that didn't let the weather stop their events.
Men's canoe double slalom
Major drama in the men's canoe double slalom. Slovakian cousins Ladislav & Peter Skantar were the first to set the fastest time in the course at 101.58 seconds. The London 2012 silver medalists, David Florence & Richard Hounslow of Great Britain, delivered a powerful performance that fell just shy of taking the top spot at 102.01 seconds, less than half a second difference! Top-ranked Gauthier Klauss & Matthieu Peche of France took third with a time of 103.24 seconds.
All eyes were on Czech Republic's Jonas Kaspar & Marek Sindler, who sprinted right through the course at a pace that was sure to win shake up the podium & claim gold. But suddenly, midway through the course, the Czech team pushed too hard & capsized! They end up in eighth!
|Czech Republic’s Jonas Kaspar and Marek Sindler capsize in C2 final 11 Aug 2016 Rio Olympics|
Ladislav & Peter Skantar of Slovakia hang on to the top spot & get gold. David Florence & Richard Hounslow of Great Britain repeat a silver! And Gauthier Klauss & Matthieu Peche of France take the bronze.
This is David Florence's third Olympics medal, having won silver at Beijing 2008 in the C1 single event. This may well be David Florence & Richard Hounslow's last Olympics race together, as it does not seem likely that Tokyo 2020 will feature the C2 event, which is a shame, really. Hounslow has also indicated that this might be his last Olympics, while Florence is all ready looking forward to Tokyo 2020.
Women's kayak single
Windy conditions made the slalom course much more challenging for the kayakers trying to avoid the swaying poles of the gates as they negotiated the course as fast as they could without incurring gate touching/missing penalties.
Maialen Chourraut of Spain, London 2012 bronze medalist in the event, posted the fastest time & cleanest run to take gold. New Zealand’s Luuka Jones takes silver. It's New Zealand's first medal on the Olympics whitewater. And London 2012 silver medalist, Jessica Fox of Australia, claims the bronze.
|Competitors warm up prior to the rowing on Day 6 of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Lagoa Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Aug. 10, 2016 - Source: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images South America)|
Originally scheduled for day five of the Games, the rowing events were postponed due to rough weather conditions. Germany's Olympic rowing regatta got off to a fantastic start as they claimed gold in both women's & men's quadruple sculls Thursday.
Men's quadruple sculls
Defending Olympic champion Germany held off Australia at the finish line to win gold in the men's quadruple sculls. Estonia got the bronze. These were the first medals of the regatta to be awarded.
The German crew of Philip Wende, Lauritz Schoof, Karl Schulze, & Hans Gruhne led from the start on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, finishing 1.15 seconds ahead of the Australians.
The Australian team — of Karsten Forsterling, Alexander Belonogoff, Cameron Girdlestone, & James McRae — were favourites for the gold medal, but missed out to Germany who defended their London 2012 title. Silver for the Aussies effort.
Estonia's team of Andrei Jämsä, Allar Raja, Tõnu Endrekson, & Kaspar Taimsoo claim the bronze.
Women's quadruple sculls
Germany also won the women's quadruple sculls thanks to a late surge that pushed the German boat to overtake Poland, which had led the race from the start, & cross the finish first.
And right on the German heels, the Netherlands also sprinted past the fading Poles to claim silver, while Poland held on for the bronze. The United States, world champion in the event last year, finished in fifth place. Defending London 2012 champs Ukraine finished fourth.
The gold winning German team was made up of Annekatrin Thiele, Carina Baer, Julia Lier, & Lisa Schmidla.
The silver winning Dutch team was made up of Chantal Achterberg, Nicole Beukers, Inge Janssen, & Carline Bouw.
The valiant Polish bronze team was made up of Maria Springwald, Joanna Leszczyńska, Agnieszka Kobus, & Monika Ciaciuch.
Men's coxless pair
New Zealand rowers Eric Murray & Hamish Bond successfully defended their London 2012 Olympic gold Thursday & extended their winning streak in the men's pair. They win New Zealand's first Rio gold, making it their 69th consecutive win in the eight years they've been together as an outstanding team.
Undefeated since 2009, the six-time world champions, Murray & Bond were a boat-length ahead of silver medalists Lawrence Brittain & Shaun Keeling of South Africa when they crossed the finish line. Italy's Giovanni Abagnale & Marco do Costanzo placed third, getting the bronze.
Women's double sculls
Katherine Grainger has become Britain's most decorated female Olympian after winning a silver medal in the women's double sculls on Thursday with partner Victoria Thornley. In her fifth straight Olympics, Grainer has a silver from Sydney 2000, silver Athens 2004, silver Beijing 2008, gold London 2012 with a different partner, & now a silver in Rio 2016. She is now the only British woman with five Olympic medals.
Magdalena Fularczyk-Kozlowska & Natalia Madaj of Poland crossed the finish first for gold. And it's the first Rio gold for Poland. Lithuania's Donata Vištartaitė & Milda Valčiukaitė take the bronze.
Men's double sculls
Croatian brothers Martin & Valent Sinkovic, born just 15 months apart, grabbed rowing gold Thursday in the men's double sculls.
They blasted past halfway point leaders Mindaugas Griskonis & Saulius Ritter of Lithuania to win Croatia's second gold of the Games. Lithuania takes silver. And Norway's Kjetil Borch & Olaf Tufte finished third to collect Norway's first medal at the Rio Olympics, a bronze.
Men's coxless lightweight four
In the final medal race of the regatta for the day, Lucas Tramer, Simon Schuerch, Simon Niepmann, & Mario Gyr of Switzerland closed in on Denmark at the 1000m halfway point, then pushed hard to take the lead.
The Swiss take gold. The Danish team of Jacob Barsøe, Jacob Larsen, Kasper Winther Jørgensen, & Morten Jørgensen claim the silver. And they add a second silver to make it two medals (silvers) for Denmark so far at the Rio Olympics.
France's Franck Solforosi, Thomas Baroukh, Guillaume Raineau, & Thibault Colard take the bronze in the final regatta medal race of the day.
Women's 50-meter rifle, three positions final
Barbara Engleder, 34, of Germany finally wins an Olympic medal in her fourth & final Olympics. And it's a gold. When she was told that she had won, she dropped to her knees because she couldn't believe it. It still didn't sink in until she was on the podium & saw the German flag & heard the German anthem. Only then did it sink in that she had won. She was so overwhelmed that she started to sing along to the anthem. This was her last competition, as she wants to focus on raising her son.
The bronze medalist, Du Li of China, also 34, the 2008 Olympic champion & silver medalist in the 10 meter air rifle here in Rio, said it may also be the end of her career after four Olympic Games & four medals--gold Athens 2004 10m air rifle, gold Beijing 2008 50m 3 position, silver Rio 2016 10m air rifle, & now a bronze in 50m 3 position.
First time Olympian Binbin Zhang, 27, of China takes the silver after an impressive surge led her to the second place spot.
South Korea continues to dominate the archery events. This time, it was Chang Hye-jin, 29, who outshot Lisa Unruh of Germany to take the gold. It is Chang Hye-jin's, second Rio gold, having won the team event earlier. What makes this win even better & more meaningful is that she won it alone.
In South Korea, archers are treated like celebrities, complete with endorsements & vast access to government resources & support. To make it on the national team is a testament to the will & skill of the archer to rise above the ultracompetitive atmosphere that permeates the culture of South Korean archery.
Four years ago, Chang Hye-jin learned that as the fourth ranked archer on the team, she was not allowed to go to London 2012 with the top three to compete. It was with a heavy heart & regret & some mixture of pride that she witnessed the team win gold.
What made it especially hard was that since she was no longer an official part of the team, she was no longer allowed to train with the team nor have access to any of the team resources & training facilities. Basically, she was kicked out into the cold.
But she didn't let he disappointment & exile stop her dreams. She took to the ranges & fired countless arrows, preparing herself for a chance at a comeback. She was all alone, barred from official training, so she had to train herself. And all that hard work paid off when she was chosen for the team to compete at Rio.
Even after proving her worth by helping the team secure a gold, she still needed to see just how far she had come. And today, she surprised herself & the world by proving to be the best on this windy & challenging day.
Defending London 2012, triple Olympics champion, Bobae Ki of South Korea was expected to be crowned archery queen once more. But she made a huge mistake, hitting the outer rings for a low score of 3, to the gasps of the crowd. She recovered, by nailing four 10s immediately. But the damage was done. She would take bronze.
So it was up to Hyejin Chang to keep South Korea's archery dynasty alive. And with the blustery winds howling & blowing arrows off target, Hyejin Chang kept calm & minimized her mistakes. With great skill & technique, Hyejin Chang was able to outshoot her opponent, & Lisa Unruh faded under the challenge & settled for silver.
It wasn't until she stood on top of the podium that the gravity of what she had done finally sunk in. All her hard work had paid off. She thought of the hardships she endured & the sacrifices she made to get here--the long, hard, lonely road. Then Hyejin Chang cried tears of joy at finally realizing that she had achieved her goal. She was now an Olympics champion.
Men's team sprint
Jason Kenny is golden! The veteran of two previous gold winning teams, Jason Kenny wins his third consecutive gold in men's team sprint. Along with Philip Hindes & Callum Skinner, they rallied past New Zealand on the final lap Thursday, winning Great Britain its third consecutive gold medal in the event.
Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, & Ed Dawkins of New Zealand settle for silver. And the French team of Gregory Bauge, Francois Pervis, & Michael D'Almeida swooped down on the final lap to take bronze from the Australian team of Nathan Hart, Matt Glaetzer, & Patrick Constable.
Simone Biles of the United States, reigning & multiple world championships title holder, claims a second Olympics gold, taking top prize in the women's individual all around event. With the most difficult routines & executing them at the highest levels, she leaves the competition behind. And for the fourth consecutive Olympics, an American claims the title.
Fellow teammate, Aly Raisman of United States, who tied for third at London 2012, but was forced into fourth by a tie breaking rule, claims the silver in a dramatic comeback from fourth place.
Aliya Mustafina of Russia repeats her bronze medal win at London 2012, this time, ending up third, under Aly Raisman.
China dominates the table tennis field once more. Number one ranked Ma Long defeated Zhang Jike, the reigning London champion, to take the gold. Four years ago, Ma was left off the team chosen for London 2012 in favor of Zhang. Now he can count himself among the best.
When Ma won four straight sets, he threw his paddle in the air, made a heart sign with his hands on his chest to show his love to the supportive crowd. Then he went over to silver medalist Zhang, embraced him, & both wrapped themselves in Chinese flags to show their solidarity & unity for the doubles event coming up.
Jun Mizutani of Japan beat Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus in the bronze-medal match, finally delivering Japan its first ever table tennis medal.
Women's Team Epee
In a dramatic epic showdown, Ana Maria Popescu executed an unorthodox, untested move--jumping up, arms raised, then striking a charging Anqi Xu right on the helmut, ending the match & doing the unthinkable: Romania up ends the top ranked team from China to win Romania's first Rio Olympics medal, a gold in women's team epee!
Popescu is a Beijing 2008 individual epee silver medalist. With Loredana Dinu, Simona Gherman, & Simona Pop, Ana Maria Popescu helps Romania take the top spot on the podium. The Romanian team was able to score well in their bouts to claim the gold in the action packed final. They built up a sizeable lead that the Chinese couldn't catch up to.
The Romanians were smart, quick, bold, & aggressive as the Chinese seemed overly cautious, playing mostly defense while the Romanians were on the offense, taking as many shots as they could, faster in their attacks & defense. And it paid off in gold.
China's Hao Jialu, Sun Yiwen, Sun Yujie, & Xu Anqi, defending London 2012 & world champions, settle for silver. And Russia's Olga Kochneva, Violetta Kolobova, Tatiana Logunova, & Lyubov Shutova defeat Estonia to get bronze, giving Russia their fifth fencing medal of the Rio Olympics, giving that nation the lead in most fencing medals at Rio.
Auditions for A Streetcar Named Desire: Stella!
|Lukas Krpalek of Czech Republic wins gold in men's 100kg judo 11 Aug 2016 Rio Olympics.|
Meanwhile, Cyrille Maret of France slammed Germany's Karl-Richard Frey into the mat for ippon to win bronze. And world champion Ryunosuke Haga of Japan used a triangle choke on Ukraine's Artem Bloshenko, forcing him to submit, & Haga takes the other bronze.
And what a spectacular win for Kayla Harrison of the US, who makes judo history, winning another gold at Olympics, successfully defending her London 2012 title. The only other American to win two Olympic medals is her coach, Jimmy Pedro, who won bronze in Atlanta 1996 & Athens 2004.
Harrison is a sex abuse survivor. She survived injuries & grueling workouts & multiple competitions to be able to return to the Olympics. And she has launched the Fearless Foundation to raise awareness of sexual abuse, which she suffered as a teenager at the hands of her former coach. She credits Jimmy Perez & the coaching team for pushing her to be in top physical form.
She was able to win all four of her matches by ippon, a judo knockout, throwing the opponents onto the floor, in matches lasting about two minutes. And in the gold winning match, she was able to get an armlock on No. 2-ranked Audrey Tcheumeo of France, flipping her over & forcing her to tap out with six seconds left in the match.
Tcheumeo settles for silver. Mayra Aguiar of Brazil & Anamari Velensek of Slovenia won the bronze medals.
The media has been hounding Harrison about her post judo plans. There are strong indicators that she could go into a lucrative career in mixed martial arts, following in the footsteps of her former sparring partner Ronda Rousey, who didn't have as many achievements as Harrison but is world famous. Whatever happens, she leaves behind an amazing legacy. And I wish her well.
In the most exciting event of the day, Japan played South Africa for the bronze. The upstart lower ranked Japanese squad had surprised the competition & shook-up the group stage, defeating a stunned New Zealand, causing them to play Fiji earlier than expected & getting knocked out of medal contention.
The second ranked South African team was frustrated to be knocked out of gold medal contention by Great Britain, so they took it out on the smaller Japanese team. South Africa outmuscled & outscored Japan, with South Africa managing 54 to Japan's 14. South Africa takes the bronze. Still, it has been an incredible run for Japan, & it sets them up nicely for Tokyo 2020!
Meanwhile in the gold medal match, the top ranked Fijians dominated fourth ranked Great Britain, with the Fijians scoring five tries before the break to 29-0. The Brits rally for to score 7, but Fiji raises their points to 43. The Fijians outclassed, outplayed, & outperformed the Brits! Not since the Age of Exploration has a group of Englishmen been so thoroughly devoured by a bunch of islanders!
|Fiji runs with ball & wins gold medal in Rio 2016 rugby sevens 11 Aug 2016.|
Fiji goes on to win gold, its first ever Olympics medal. And Great Britain takes the silver for a valiant effort. What an amazing rugby sevens this was. It has been my favorite event to date! It has been a high point of these Olympics, a pinnacle right up there with the jewel of Olympics: Synchronized Swimming!
And speaking of swimming, in the last contested events of the evening, we turn to swimming.
Men's 200-meter Backstroke
American Ryan Murphy is a double gold champion! Earlier this week, Murphy set an Olympic record as he captured gold in the 100-meter backstroke. Now, he wins a second gold in the 200-meter backstroke, continuing an impressive showing at the Games.
Australia’s Mitchell Larkin claims silver & Russia’s Evgeny Rylov takes the bronze.
Men's 200-meter Individual Medley
Michael Phelps & Ryan Lochte competed one last time in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley. Phelps & Lochte won gold & silver in London 2012 respectively. Phelps also won the race in Athens 2004 & Beijing 2008. Meanwhile, Lochte set new records & won world championships. This was the last time the two rivals & friends would race against each other. However, Lochte didn’t even make it to the podium this time.
While Phelps & Lochte led in the early laps, at the last lap, Phelps pulled ahead. And in the final meters, Kosuke Hagino of Japan would sprint to silver, & Shun Wang of China would claim the bronze. Lochte ended up fifth.
It is the end of a swimming era. The rivalry that pushed each of these great swimmers to be the very best is now over. The time has come for them to leave pool & let the next generation of swim stars shine.
Women's 200-meter Breaststroke
In a closely contested race, Japan's Rie Kaneto, 27, pulls off a surprise win to claim gold in women's 200m breaststroke. Controversial Russian swimmer, Yulia Efimova, who had a breakdown yesterday from all the boos she keeps getting from the crowd who disapprove of her drug cheating & participating in the Olympics, managed a silver. Jinglin Shi of China takes the bronze.
Women's 100-meter freestyle (tie for 1st)
In the best swim race of the evening, American Simone Manuel & Canada’s Penny Oleksiak tied for the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle in a thrilling finish! Manuel & Oleksiak touched the wall in 52.70 seconds, an Olympic record. It is the first time an African American woman, Manuel, has won an individual swim medal. And it's a remarkable achievement for Oleksiak, the Canadian 16 year old swimming phenom who now holds the most swimming medals for a Canadian at a single Olympics.
Finally, the other thrilling event of the day: The preliminary match between USA & Brazil in men's volleyball. The Americans have lost two games & needed the win to advance in the group stage & make the quarterfinals. Brazil is undefeated in the group & had the home support of the loud crowd who did their best to distract & demoralize the struggling US team.
It started off well with the US winning two sets, but Brazil bounces back to take the third set, forcing a fourth set. The Brazilians were starting to rattle the Americans. The team took some time to refocus on the task at hand. The Americans start to build a small lead. But Brazil was catching up! A series of plays, aces, blocks, & luck helped the US pull it together, forcing the Brazilians to lose composure, & finally, the US wins the set & game in a hostile environment. It's an amazing comeback & fantastic effort by the struggling team to bounce back in top form.
And so ends another exciting day of competition. More thrills & surprises are sure to come in the following days as new records are set & new champions are crowned, & we all get to watch it all unfold ok.