Phelps Becomes Greatest Olympian of All-Time with Gold in 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay

Michael Phelps stands alone as the greatest – or most prolific, you call it – Olympic athlete of all time. No modern Olympic athlete, in any sport, Summer or Winter, from any country, ever, has won more medals than Phelps.

It was a historic gold medal for Michael Phelps in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay – the 19th of his Olympic career. It capped a field day for Team USA in the pool Tuesday, with Americans winning medals in every final event, including gold in the Women’s 200m Freestyle.

Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final

The American men were heavily favored to repeate as gold medalists in the Men’s 2 x 400m Free, but I certainly didn’t expect the dominating performance begun on the second 100m of the leadoff swim by Ryan Lochte and ended on the resolute determination of Michael Phelps’ anchor leg. It was an interesting shift in strategy for Team USA, taking the pressure of the finish off Lochte and shifting it to their best swimmer.

While Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens share in the golden glory, the weight of the moment belongs to Phelps. His gold medal in this event was his 19th Olympic medal, which is the most of any athlete in any sport from any country in the modern history of the Olympic Games. Phelps’ family – watching from the grandstands – was clearly emotional, and Phelps hugged the lane divider for quite a while following the race’s conclusion to take in the moment.

France finished 3.07 seconds behind Team USA for the silver, and China was 6.6 seconds behind for the bronze.

Men’s 200m Butterfly Final

Phelps was not invincible on the day, however, faltering in his best event in probably the best race of the day. Phelps had the lead at every touch of the wall by tenths of a second and was seemingly on his way to gold at the final turn, but South African Chad le Clos, swimming in the lane to Phelps’ right, rode his wake and chased him down in the last half-length of the pool for the gold medal. Phelps lost his signature event by only five-hundredths of a second. Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda won the bronze, and American Tyler Clary finished fifth.

It came down to the finish, which was the exact opposite of the same event in Beijing in 2008. Then, Phelps took a final stroke into the wall, overtaking an opponent who stayed underwater, stretching for the wall, by one one-hundredth of a second. This time around, Phelps was the one stretching underwater, and le Clos took the extra stroke.

Women’s 200m Freestyle Final

Allison Schmitt has hit for the cycle, topping her silver medal in the women’s 400m freestyle and bronze in the 4 x 100m free relay with an Olympic record time of 1:53.61 for the gold medal in the 200m free, blowing away the field. Schmitt was fourth after the 50m mark but posted the best time at each split the rest of the way. French swimmer Camille Muffat took silver and Aussie Bronte Barratt took bronze. Missy Franklin, the gold medalist in the women’s 100m backstroke, was in medal contention at each split but finished .01 seconds out of a tie for bronze.

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final

Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, amid allegations of doping after she posted a better freestyle split time than male American swimmer Ryan Lochte in a previous semifinal, chased down American Caitlin Leverenz and Australia’s Alicia Coutts in the last 50 meters on the freestyle to win her second gold medal of the Games. Shiwen’s time of 2:07.57 was an Olympic record. Coutts also overtook Leverenz, who led at the 150m mark after the breaststroke, for silver, though Leverenz held on for the bronze after coming back from sixth place at the 100m mark following the backstroke.

World record holder, American Ariana Kukors, finished fifth.

Men’s 100m Freestyle Semifinals

Cullen Jones and Nathan Adrian, swimming in the same semifinal, were in contention for the lead at the 50m mark, with Adrian touching the wall first. Adrian pulled away from the field with 25 meters to go to win an intense semifinal, but Jones struggled visibly, finishing last and missing the final. Adrian’s 47.97 second result was the second-fastest time in the semis.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals

Americans Scott Weltz and Clark Burckle advanced to the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Final, swum tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., with times of 2:08.99 and 2:09.11, respectively. Weltz qualified in the fourth position, and Burckle qualified sixth.

Women’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals

Kathleen Hersey enters the Women’s 200m Butterfly Finals with the top qualifying time of 2:05.90, .2 seconds quicker than Jiao Liuyang of China. American Cammile Adams also qualified for the finals, finishing seventh. The finals will be swum tomorrow at 2:12 p.m. CT.

What’s Your Favorite Olympic Event?

If you’re like me, flipping to coverage of any Olympic event will get your blood pumping. During the Winter Olympics, I’ll go back and forth between hockey games, bobsled and cross-country skiing and be sure to keep myself aware of every single curling match on CNBC.

The Summer Olympics, which for me are easily the better of the two, it’s the same way. Swimming is by far my favorite event. I love the water, and the intensity of the races and seeing all those flags in the pool, there’s just something about it. Gymnastics, beach volleyball and track and field are up there also and – maybe surprisingly for you – rowing as well. But when NBC and MSNBC’s coverage goes to commercial, I’ll happily catch a random boxing match on CNBC.

So what’s your favorite Summer event? Air rifle? Triathlon? Water polo? Or, is there a Winter Olympics event that is tops for you? Let us know!

The US A-Team: Thoughts from the Beginning of Olympic Men’s Basketball Play

Editor’s Note:  Sebastian Henao is a friend I met while attending LSU. He is one of the more passionate and observant fans of basketball and the NBA that I know, and he has offered to provide some analysis and – as you can see – color commentary on basketball at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Jason Kidd, LeBron James and Chris Paul celebrate gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
LeBron James and Chris Paul are back for Team USA in defense of the gold medal. 

Before I begin, I would love to thank Mary Carillo, Olympics tennis commentator, for introducing me to the NBC Olympics Live Extra app. You have saved me from another Dan Patrick monologue about his love for the L.A. Kings. If you own cable and need to get your updates, live feed, and replays, this is a must! (See our post on how to Live Stream the Olympics)

What if I told you that you can choose the best 12 players in the world and put them on one team? What if I also told you that we will move the 3-point line three feet closer so your best player can be even more versatile? Finally what if I told you that you were playing against Boris Diaw? Is that something you might be interested in?

For our casual fans, Boris Diaw is an NBA player. Unfortunately, he has the motor of a sloth after eating a Grand Slam at Denny’s. Throughout the Olympics, the U.S. of A will be playing scrubs like this. Watching USA versus France taught me a few things.

Kings at Court 

First, no matter how much international talent has increased, USA will always be the kings of basketball. Led by the current King James of South Beach, Coach K (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) has enlisted an army even Leonidas would fear. Although the losses of Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Chris Bosh have diminished our front court, have you watched the NBA lately? The days of Sky Hook and The Dream Shake are over.

Enter Run n’ Gun and a million free throws. Both NBA finals teams – the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder – which consisted of two former Olympians and four current ones, led the league in free throws. Coach K knows his team’s strengths and knows them well. His job is to control all these superstars and stop them from making my second point relevant.

Recklessness!!!

Keeping such an up-tempo offense also has its weaknesses. If you are at a bar or watching the game with your boys, you may hear a few common phrases. “Why did you take that shot?” “Quit turning the ball over.” “Just give the ball to Durant.” High tempo offenses have just as much risk as reward. Turnovers and forced jumpers are very common in such game plans. At the end of the 1 st quarter, the US led France by only 1 because they made 7 out of 24 shots. Unfortunately, no one gave the French a memo that the 2 best players on Team USA were run n’ gun specialists.

Imagine a 265-pound behemoth running the floor either jamming it in your face or passing the ball to someone with the prettiest shot in the NBA. Did I forget to mention that the shooter is also 6’10 with a 7’5 wingspan? I just described either a giraffe and a rhino or LeBron and Durant. Either way, there is no way those two should be on the same team let alone the same watering hole.

Parity or Unfair-ity

Touching on my last point, there is no reason why these guys should be on the same team. It is just unfair. I know this might upset people, but I think the 23 and under rule is a great idea. (One proposal is to have basketball follow the same rules as soccer, by which countries may have no more than three players over the age of 23). I love the drama, the emotion, and the feel-good stories during the Olympics. The only emotion I got out of this game is Melo getting up in de Colo’s face yelling, “YOU WANT TO GO NIGHT NIGHT!”

I also feel like I’m watching Space Jam 2, except this time the MonStars win and the French are working like slaves at Six Flags. As a basketball fan, I love watching teams like the Spurs dismantle teams with their teamwork and high basketball IQ and watching Chris Paul make scrubs like Aaron Gray and Jannero Pargo look like Olympians.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I love Space Jam, and I love Team USA. If we don’t get 10 alley oops a game, then I’m disappointed. I hope Parker lets me come back for a sequel so I can give you a more in-depth background on the final four teams.

Tired of Spoilers? Beat the Tape Delay with NBC Live Extra!

Know how the Women’s Gymnastics Team Final turned out?  The next question is, did you WANT to find out?

Millions of Americans are struggling with NBC’s decision not to show some of the most popular Olympic events live as they happen from London, choosing instead to air these events in prime time on a tape delay. That would have worked fine back in 1992 when the Games were in Barcelona, but these days, it just won’t fly. Sports fans hoping to avoid hearing the results until they can see the events in their full glory in prime time must run a gauntlet of mobile app push notifications, website coverage and word of mouth if they want to avoid hearing the results in advance.

But fear not!  The London 2012 Games have been dubbed the “Digital Olympics” because of the prolific content being disseminated to audiences the world over in real time. And you can be a part of it!

To watch live coverage of the Olympic events – ALL of the Olympic events – you need three simple things:

1)  A cable, satellite or digital subscription which includes NBC (most do). You’ll need your account login ID and password. If you don’t have a login ID, you’ll need your account number and may have to call your cable company.

2) A computer, smartphone or tablet with Internet, data or wi-fi connectivity

3) TIME!

NBC has provided streaming access to all Olympic events, everything from gymnastics to swimming to the qualifying matches in air rifle and table tennis. Additionally, you can watch full replay coverage of every event, every match, online at NBCOlympics.com. If you want to use your phone or tablet, you can download the Live Extra app from NBC, absolutely free.

Here’s how to do it. It takes just a few minutes and in most cases, you only have to do it one time.

ONLINE

1)  Go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/index.html.

2)  Click the red “Get Ready” box, where you’ll be prompted with an array of cable and satellite choices and a pulldown box with more choices. Pick yours.

3)  Enter your login information. Kids, ask your parents for permission first.

4)  Watch the Games!

Phone/Tablet

1)  Go to your AppStore and search NBC Live Extra, or NBC Olympics.

2)  Download the NBC Live Extra App, fo free.

3)  Open the app and, when prompted, select your cable or satellite provider.

4)  Enter your cable or satellite provider login information.

5)  Watch the Games!

2012 Summer Olympics – Day 4 Schedule

Today’s action. All times Central.

  • NOW:  Women’s Gymnastics Team Final (streaming online); Team USA Men’s Volleyball vs. Germany (NBC); Women’s Tennis – Varvara Lepchenko vs. Germany’s Julia Goerges; Women’s Tennis – Huber/Raymond vs. Radwanska/Radwanksa (POL) and Williams/Williams vs. Kerber/Lisicki (GER)
  • 11:15 a.m.:  Women’s Soccer vs. North Korea, Group Play
  • 12:45 p.m.:  Men’s Tennis vs. Russia, Bryan/Bryan vs. Davydenko/Youzhny
  • 1:00 p.m.:  Women’s Field Hockey vs. Argentina, Group Play
  • 1:30 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Cullen Jones and Nathan Adrian swim in the semifinals of the Men’s 100m Freestyle
  • 1:40 p.m.:  Men’s Water Polo vs. Romania, Group Play
  • 1:41 p.m.:  Swimming, American medalists Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin swim for gold in the Women’s 200m Freestyle Finals
  • 1:49 p.m.:  Swimming, American Olympic hero Michael Phelps swims for gold in his best event, and Tyler Clary also swims in the Men’s 200m Butterfly Finals
  • 2:12 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Kathleen Hersey and Cammile Adams swim in the Women’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals
  • 2:20 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Clark Burckle and Scott Weltz swim in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals
  • 2:43 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Caitlin Leverenz and world record holder Ariana Kukors swim for gold in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley Finals
  • 2:51 p.m.:  Swimming, Team USA will swim for gold in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay, likely to feature Michael Phelps
  • 3:00 p.m.:  Men’s Beach Volleyball vs. Spain, Dalhausser/Rogers vs. Gavira Collado/Herrera Allepuz
  • 4:15 p.m.:  Men’s Basketball vs. Tunisia, Group Play
  • 5:00 p.m.:  Women’s Beach Volleyball vs. Netherlands, Ross/Kessy vs. Van Iersel/Keizer

May-Treanor, Walsh Jennings Continue Dominance

When will the world acknowledge the greatness of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings?

Actually, most of the world has seemingly accepted this fact, which has only been proven by science time and time again, but for some reason pairs of volleyball players from countries far and wide are determined to challenge the reigning beach queens. The Czech Republic was the latest nation to fall to May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings – as good of an example of Olympic royalty as there is, having never lost a set of volleyball in the Olympics, let alone a match.

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won their 16th consecutive Olympic match and 32nd consecutive set, defeating Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova, 21-14, 21-19. The women showed brief hints of mortality in the second set, much like they did in their previous match against Australia, but both athletes tapped their respective strengths to pull out a clutch victory in the end.

After a timeout, down 18-15 in the second set, May-Treanor made several acrobatic digs and three successful kills to bring the score back to even. The Czech pair broke the American serve to go up one point, but then they presented the Americans with a couple gifts before Walsh Jennings, serving for match point, came up with a huge block to clinch.

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings (boy, that’s a lot less fun to type and say than the good old May/Walsh) will next take on the Austrian Schwaiger sister act under the lights on Wednesday. The live stream will begin 5 p.m. Central Time, and NBC will undoubtedly broadcast the match on prime time.

Men’s Gymnastics Falters, Places 5th in Team Finals

The bad fortune of other countries that vaulted the United States men’s gymnastics team to the top qualifying spot cruelly reversed course today, sending the American men tumbling from both the apparatuses and the standings.

China and Japan – traditional gymnastics powerhouses – recovered from atypical subpar scores in the qualifying rounds to earn the gold and silver medals, respectively, with host nation Great Britain earning a surprising bronze medal in third. This was only Great Britain’s third men’s gymnastics medal – and second bronze – in Olympic history.

Team USA finished a disappointing fifth behind Ukraine, which had qualified seventh.

The Americans were competitive – relatively – in the floor and bar exercises, but they lost nearly a point in their floor score from qualifying, and inherent weakness on the pommel horse and a disastrous performance on the vault doomed hopes for any medal, let alone gold.

Team USA dropped nearly 1.5 points on the vault, going from fourth in the qualifying on the event to sixth in the finals. Sam Mikulak and Jake Dalton did well but stepped off on their landings, and John Orozco missed his vault completely.

The Americans posted a low score again on the pommel, the apparatus that proved the deciding factor in the medal standings. The Americans’ lowest score for any event in qualifying was on the pommel horse, but it was good enough for third place then. The team’s performance in the finals was more than 3 points worse, dropping them to seventh in the field on that apparatus. Danell Leyva and Orozco, both considered proficient on the apparatus, faltered, posting scores in the 13’s and 12’s, respectively. Had Team USA simply maintained its performance on the pommel from the qualifying round, it would have comfortably won Team Silver.

In fact, Team USA regressed on every apparatus except parallel bar, where they gained nearly half a point. But in order to match rejuvenated Japanese and Chinese squads, they needed to replicate or nearly replicate their qualifying totals and were unable to do so. The qualifying score of 275.342 would have put USA quite comfortably in silver position.

Jonathan Horton, the sole gymnast returning from Beijing’s rotation, posted the sixth-best score on rings, but this was his only officially tallied event score on the day.

Orozco performed on five of the six apparatuses (floor exercise was the sole omission). He was eighth-best on high bar, 13th-best on rings and tied for 15th on parallel bars.

Please don’t mistake what I can only classify as cold analysis for malicious criticism. The U.S. men have some fantastic personalities and great back stories, and they provided the world with quite the show in the qualifying rounds. And to be sure, there is no shame in finishing fifth-best in the world at anything.

The Americans’ fall paved the way for a memorable moment for host nation Great Britain, which stuck in silver position after completing the final rotation, initiating a raucous explosion of applause and cheers from the home crowd, which included princes William and Harry. However, the final Japanese vault score was incorrectly tallied, and after a formal inquiry by Japan’s delegation, the score was reverted and Japan took silver, with Great Britain taking bronze.

Lleyva, who posted the top all-around qualifying score, and Orozco will move on to compete in the Men’s Individual All-Around finals. In terms of individual event finals, Dalton qualified for the floor exercise (Mikulak just missed), Lleyva is a reserve for pommel horse and parallel bars, Horton is a reserve for rings, Mikulak qualified for vault, and Horton and Lleyva qualified on horizontal bar.

Final standings:

RANK TEAM SCORE
1 CHNCHN 275.997
2 JPNJPN 271.952
3 GBRGBR 271.711
4 UKRUKR 271.526
5 USAUSA 269.952
6 RUSRUS 269.603
7 GERGER 268.019
8 FRAFRA 265.441

 

Points Breakdown by Event

TEAM USA TOTAL QUALIFYING SCORE:  275.342
TEAM USA TOTAL FINAL SCORE:  269.952
Differential:  -5.39

Floor Exercise

Qualifying:  46.165
Final:  45.266
Differential:   -0.899

Pommel Horse

Qualifying:  43.965
Final:  40.633
Differential:   -3.332

Rings

Qualifying:  45.332
Final:  45.257
Differential:   -0.075

Parallel Bar

Qualifying:  45.182
Final:  45.765
Differential:  +0.583

Vault

Qualifying:  48.000
Final:  46.632
Differential:  -1.368

Horizontal Bar

Qualifying:  46.698
Final:  46.399
Differential:   -0.299

Team USA Crushes Angola in Women’s Basketball

Onward and upward for Team USA, who have yet to face a challenge across four quarters in group play these Olympics and may not have to worry until bracket play begins.

The Americans destroyed an inferior Angola team today, 90-38, moving to the top of Group A standings leading into Wednesday’s match-up against Turkey. The Americans are 2-0 in London and will have a point differential of +67, almost double that of group co-leader China.

There is just too much elite talent on Team USA for their opponents, at least thus far, to keep up, though Croatia capitalized on U.S. mistakes early in their opening match-up, hanging tough until the fourth quarter. Versatility is key for Team USA, with any player on the roster capable of taking over the game. A glimpse at the box scores thus far shows this flexibility: six different players – half the team – have scored in double digits at least once.

Coach Geno Auriemma has been exploiting his depth with multiple full-team substitutions, “hockey subs” as the announcers have called them, replacing all five players at once with fresh groupings and different players taking the point, Sue Bird and Lindsay Whalen most often. Candace Parker (Williams) at center has been a dominant force for Team USA, posting back-to-back double doubles and blocking four shots today.

China might be the biggest challenge for Team USA in Group A, but watch out for France and Australia out of Group B. Australia is typically another powerhouse in women’s basketball, but they themselves fell to the French in their second game in overtime. Still, both teams have reached the 70-point mark in both games, proving they can score.

Team USA will face Turkey, the Czech Republic and China in order to conclude group play.

Current Women’s Basketball Standings (Courtesy of NBCOlympics.com):

Group A

RK TEAM GP PTS
1 2 4
2 CHNCHN 2 4
3 TURTUR 2 4
4 2 2
5 2 2
6 2 2
RK TEAM GP PTS
1 2 4
2 2 4
3 2 3
4 2 3
5 GBRGBR 2 2
6 2 2

Olympic Tennis Roundup: Team USA and World Notables

Any other time of year, and not having Bravo in my cable lineup wouldn’t be such a huge issue. Other than the occasional “House” marathons, I don’t really have a burning desire to keep tabs on the real housewives of New Jersey, if they are – in fact – “real.” But right now, the absence of Bravo from our TV back home here in Mississippi has got me jonesing for some Olympic tennis action.

Luckily, this year’s Olympics are streaming live, so I’ve been able to catch some of the action from Wimbledon here and there. Here’s a summary of how Team USA is doing in the tournaments, and where some of the other world notable players stand. And how cool is it that Wimbledon is hosting the Olympics?!

Team USA

First, meet Team USA!

Men:

  • Bob and Mike Bryan (doubles), twins world ranked ATP No. 1 in men’s doubles
  • John Isner (singles/doubles), ATP No. 11-ranked in the world
  • Andy Roddick (singles/doubles), ATP No. 21-ranked in the world, former U.S. Open Champion
  • Donald Young (singles)

Women:

  • Liezel Huber (doubles), naturalized South African with multiple doubles Grand Slam championships, one with current partner Lisa Raymond
  • Varvara Lepchenko (singles), naturalized Uzbek-American
  • Christina McHale (singles), New Jersey native and current WTA ranked No. 26 player in the world
  • Lisa Raymond (doubles), former Florida Gator and 11-time Grand Slam doubles champion, formerly No. 1 ranked doubles player
  • Serena and Venus Williams (singles/doubles), many-time Grand Slam singles and doubles champions and top-ranked in the world

Notes:  Mixed doubles pairings have not yet been determined. Also, all matches, men’s and women’s, are played in the best-of-three format. Generally in international play, men’s matches are played in best-of-five format.

Team USA In Action:

Men

  • Roddick defeated Slovakia’s Martin Klizan in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4, in his first round match. The story there was unforced errors, where Roddick’s were limited to 5 and Klizan had 21. Roddick moves on to a power match-up in Round 2 against World No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
  • Isner has had a little more trouble, needing tiebreakers to win the first set in each of his matches. Isner took down Belgian Olivier Rochus, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, in the opening round. In his second round match against Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri today, he emerged victorious, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2. Isner will play Serb Janko Tipsarevic for the right to advance to the quarterfinals.
  • Young lost to Italy’s Andreas Seppi in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round.
  • Bryan/Bryan took down Brazilian pair Belucci/Sa in three sets, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, in the first round. They will face Russian pair Davydenko/Youzhny on Court 18 tomorrow.
  • Isner/Roddick, not known for their doubles play, fell to another pair of Brazilians – Melo/Soares –  in straight sets, 2-6, 4-6.

Women

  • Lepchenko took three sets to down her first opponent, Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg, in the first round, 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2. The epic 2nd set lasted 75 minutes. Lepchenko meets Germany’s Julia Goerges in the second round tomorrow.
  • McHale lost in the first round to former world No. 1 and former French Open champion, Serb Ana Ivanovic, in straight sets, 4-6, 5-7.
  • Serena Williams has dominated in her first two rounds, defeating both European opponents in straight sets. She dispatched Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 6-1, and Poland’s Urszula Radwanska, 6-2, 6-3. She will face Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in the third round and is set up to meet the winner of world notables Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) and Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) if she reaches the quarterfinals.
  • Venus Williams dispatched her first round opponent, Italy’s Sara Errani, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. She’ll face Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak in the second round tomorrow.
  • The Huber/Raymond pairing enjoyed a first round bye and will face their first opponents, Poland’s Radswanka sisters, tomorrow in the second round.
  • The Williams sisters defeated Romania’s Cirstea/Halep in straight sets today, 6-3, 6-2. The match was played a day late due to weather delays from the previous day. They will play their second round opponents, Germany’s Kerber/Lisicki, tomorrow.

World Notables

Men

  • Wimbledon champ Roger Federer (Switzerland), has returned to the venue in fine fashion. Federer has advanced to the third round, defeating  Colombia’s Alejandro Falla in the first round, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, and France’s Julien Benneteau, 6-2, 6-2. He plays Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomen next.
  • Djokovic beat his first round opponent, Italy’s Fabio Fognini, 6-7 (9-7), 6-2, 6-2.
  • Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro has advanced to the third round and awaits Frenchman Gilles Simon.
  • Hometown favorite, Brit Andy Murray, plays Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.
  • Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Olympics with an injury.

Women

  • No. 2 in the tournament and the world, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, was ousted by Goerges in the first round.
  • Russia’s Maria Sharapova defeated Israel’s Shahar Peer in the first round and takes on Britain’s Laura Robson next.
  • Belgium’s Kim Clijsters is set up for a thrilling power match-up in the third round against Ivanovic. Clijsters is re-retiring from international competition after this year’s U.S. Open.
  • Wozniacki and Hantuchova meet in a third round match-up featuring two players formerly ranked in the WTA top 5, with Wozniacki a former No. 1 and Hantuchova reaching No. 5.
  • Russia’s Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko meet China’s Peng/Zeng pairing in the third round.

Franklin, Grevers Lead Golden Monday in the Pool for Team USA

Ryan Lochte is the premier name on the minds of swimming fans and smitten women the world over, but Monday’s finals belonged to two other members of Team USA Swimming, as Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers were victorious in the backstroke, continuing American dominance in the event.

Women’s 100m Backstroke Finals

Missy Franklin, a 17-year-old swimmer residing in Aurora, Colo., came from tenths of a second behind at the 50m turn, overtaking Aussie Emily Seebohm to win the gold medal in 100m Women’s Backstroke. Seebohm allowed Franklin to overtake her on the last length of the pool but was never in danger of finishing any lower than a silver medal. Japan’s Aya Terakawa came back from fifth place at the turn to finish with the bronze medal.

Franklin’s feat is especially notable considering that less than 15 minutes prior to racing for gold, she swam in the semifinals of the Women’s 200m Freestyle, qualifying for the eighth and final spot.

Men’s 100m Backstroke Finals

In Beijing in 2008, Chicagoan Matt Grevers finished with a silver medal behind American all-time great and world record holder Aaron Piersol, whom Grevers touted as the best in the world. Piersol remains the world record holder in the 100m Backstroke, but he no longer holds the Olympic Record, which Grevers broke today on his way to taking the gold medal. Fellow American Nick Thoman made up substantial ground to give Team USA a 1-2 finish, winning his silver medal by .05 ahead of bronze medalist Ryosuke Irie of Japan.

Grevers’ Olympic Record time was 52.16 seconds. Thoman was third coming off the wall at 50m but stuck in the middle of a crowded pack gunning for silver. He held on for second place, fending off Irie, who had come back from 6th at the wall.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke Finals

Rebecca Soni seemingly struggled in the first 50 meters but battled back and made a mad rush down the stretch, but in the end she couldn’t overtake young Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte, settling instead for a well-earned silver medal.

Soni went into the wall at the 50m turn in fourth place, a strong split considering she was near the back of the pack for much of the first length of the pool. The difference was too much to overcome, despite a spirited effort in the final 10 meters. Soni finished with a time of 1:05.55, a mere .08 seconds behind Meilutyte, who is the youngest woman to ever win the event and secured her country’s first medal at these Games.

American Breeja Larson was almost disqualified for entering the pool early, but further investigation revealed there was a technical malfunction, causing the start to sound before the swimmers were instructed to take their marks. Larson hit the wall at 50m in second place, but faltered down the stretch and finished in sixth place.

Soni will compete in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke and will swim breaststroke in the Women’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay.

Men’s 200m Freestyle Finals

The race was Lochte’s to win as he faced a field missing 2008 gold medalist Michael Phelps, who decided prior to the Games beginning to drop the event from his program. Coming off the wall at the 150m mark, Lochte was in position to clinch at least a silver medal, possibly overtaking France’s Yannick Agnel, who was less than two-tenths of a second ahead, for gold.

Instead, Lochte faltered down the last half length of the pool, giving way to China’s Sun Yang and Korea’s Park Taehwan, who tied for dual silver medals. Lochte was in at least third place at every split of the race before finishing fourth.

Team Ryan will enjoy Lochte for two more individual events – the 200m Backstroke, possibly his best event, and the 200m Individual Medley, where he’ll again go head-to-head against Phelps. Lochte will also swim for the U.S. in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay.

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Semifinals

Caitlin Leverenz and Ariana Kukors qualified with times of 2.10.06 and 2.10.08, respectively, in the women’s 200m individual medley finals tomorrow.

Men’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals

Phelps and fellow American Tyler Clary both posted qualifying times in the 200m Butterfly and will swim in the event finals tomorrow afternoon.

U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team Takes Down Brazil

It was in some ways a tougher match for Team USA than their opening match against South Korea, but the American women hung tough and defeated Brazil in four sets, 3-1 (25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21). The match featured the top two FIVB ranked teams in the world, with USA No. 1 and Brazil No. 2.

Team USA couldn’t close the Brazilians out in straight sets, losing a close third set and giving Brazil momentum to make it close in the fourth set. Indeed, it seemed Brazil would force a decisive fifth set, and the Americans displayed uncharacteristic mental lapses on defense. However, whatever ground Team USA gave to Brazil was given right  back on the service, where Brazil performed miserably, enduring seven unforced service errors.

Team captain and setter Lindsey Berg served for match point, which featured a dramatic series of volleys culminated by a Logan Tom kill for the victory. Tom had an excellent balanced performance, while Destinee Hooker again was a force up front with 23 points. Jordan Larson contributed 18 points. Libero Nicole Davis led the team with 26 digs and 33 receptions on defense.

Here’s the box score on the game. Team USA has defeated two of the toughest opponents in the Group B draw and is tied for the lead with China with six points (two wins in two matches played each). They will face the Chinese on Wednesday.

More to come on Team USA women’s volleyball, including team analysis and player profiles.

Lost in Translation: Cultural, Political Implications In Play at Games

Typically, the Olympic Games are viewed as a respite from global conflict and politics. However, this isn’t always the case.

This article by Reuters details how the British recording of the Hungarian anthem was out of touch with traditional rhythm and tempo, an error discovered after a Hungarian fencer won gold.

Interesting to note that the London Philharmonic Orchestra recorded this and more than 200 other anthems and presented the recordings to the IOC as a gift. Oh and by the way, they recorded them at Abbey Road Studios.

The Hungarian Olympic delegation simply asked that a proper recording be used, but as for any ill will over the mishap, they decided to just “Let It Be.”

Event managers in London also gaffed on the soccer pitch, putting up South Korea’s flag when the North Korean women were about to start playing. The reps from the People’s Republic refused to take the pitch for an hour after the gaffe. In a swimming event, a Tunisian swimmer refused to enter the pool with an Israeli swimmer who happened to be in his country’s military and took part in military exercises against Palestine.

Even during the Opening Ceremony, such tense situations were relevant. Commentators wondered about Argentina’s reception during the ceremony, as England and Argentina have been at odds over islands off the coast of South America. Taiwan, in order to participate in the Games, has acquiesced to being referred to as Chinese Taipei. Also, newly-christened South Sudan is not represented at the Games, though a South Sudanese athlete is participating. He escaped the war-torn area and, at last check, was awaiting visa clearance to get to London and compete under the Olympic flag as an “Independent Olympic Athlete.”

Anthem gaffe tarnish gold medal for Hungarian

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) – Aron Szilagyi’s perfect rhythm won him gold in men’s individual sabre but the Hungarian Olympic Committee said on Monday London’s organisers were off-key with the country’s anthem and asked that it be changed…

Olympic Fencing 101: Don’t Call It a “Sword”

Editor’s Note:  Kent Moore is a public relations professional from California. He has great expertise in fencing, and gladly offered to write a guest post on the intricacies of Olympic fencing.

If you’re like me and love sports, then you and the rest of the world are watching the 2012 Olympic Games in London. For some, it’s a chance to check out sports they have never seen or heard of. In the case of fencing, probably a majority of you are in that category. Being a fencer myself, who has competed both in national and state competitions, below are the basics of what you should know about fencing for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Fencing Basics

I could write a book about the fencing basics, but the quick version is that fencing has three different styles of competition:  foil, epee, and saber. All three weapons have different rules and target areas. Each match, or “bout,” as it’s called, is played to 15 touches. The bout takes place on a “strip,” measuring 14 meters by 2 meters, where the fencers can only move forwards and backwards. A large fencing competition, like the Olympics, usually has both individual competitions and team competitions, which consists of three fencers for each team.

USA Fencers

While countries like France and Italy have produced some of the best fencers in the world, anyone who knows the sport well is aware that the U.S. is now finally being able to give European fencers a run for their money. For instance, this past Saturday, foil fencer Lee Kiefer took fifth place in women’s foil, which was the best result for a women’s individual foil fencer since 1956.

Though as we look towards the rest of the games and you find yourself wanting to watch a spectacular fencing bout, I would highly suggest watching both the women’s saber and men’s foil individual competitions. For women’s saber, Team USA has two-time gold winner Mariel Zagunis. Besides a laundry list of wins and accomplishments, which you can read here, Mariel is the Americans’ best hope for obtaining a gold medal in fencing. While in men’s foil, Team USA has foil fencer Race Imboden. Ranked number one in the nation and fifth in the world, this red headed youth is a force not to be underestimated. Being his first Olympics, I believe he is going to give the world a show they soon won’t forget.

When To Watch

If you’re ready for some swashbuckling action then check out the NBC schedule here, and for more information about US fencing, check out www.usfencing.org.

Day 3 Team USA Olympic Schedule

Here’s Today’s Schedule of Team USA Olympic Events. I’ll work on updating you on events that have already completed. Remember, I will be updating this site live, but I won’t post anything with spoilers of events that will air on prime time to social media until the events air.

  • NOW – Serena Williams (USA) vs. Ursula Radwanska (POL), Women’s Tennis Singles; Marli Malloy (USA)vs. Giulia Quintavalle (ITA), Women’s 57kg Judo Bronze Medal; American divers David Boudia and Nick McCrory in men’s Synchronized 10m platform diving (likely to air primetime); American rider Tiana Coudray and Team USA on the course in the Equestrian Cross-Country Event
  • 9:30 a.m. – American Zach Railey races in the Men’s Finn Sailing event
  • 9:45 a.m. – American light heavyweight Marcus Browne takes on Aussie Damien Hooper in Men’s Boxing
  • 9:50 a.m. – American duo Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih race in the Men’s Star Sailing event
  • 10:00 a.m. – American John Isner takes on Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri in Men’s Tennis Singles
  • 10:30 a.m. – Team USA Men’s Gymnastics Team in the Team Final event (will be shown prime time)
  • 10:45 a.m. – Team USA Women’s Volleyball Team vs. Brazil
  • 11:30 a.m. – Venus and Serena Williams take on Romania in Women’s Tennis Doubles
  • 1:30 p.m. – American medalists Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin swim in the Women’s 200m Freestyle semis
  • 1:40 p.m. – Team USA Women’s Water Polo Team vs. Hungary
  • 1:43 p.m. – American Ryan Lochte goes for gold against China’s Sun Yang and world record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany in the Men’s 200m Freestyle Final.
  • 1:51 p.m. – American Missy Franklin goes for gold in the Women’s 100m Backstroke Final
  • 1:58 p.m. – Americans Nick Thoman and Matt Grevers go for gold in the Men’s 100m Backstroke Final
  • 2:15 p.m. – Americans Rebecca Soni and Breeja Larson go for gold in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final
  • 2:32 p.m. – American Michael Phelps looks to advance in defense of his gold medal in Beijing in the Men’s 200m Butterfly, perhaps his best event. American Tyler Clary will also swim.
  • 2:55 p.m. – Americans Caitlin Leverenz and Ariana Kukors, the current world-record holder, will swim in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley semis.
  • 3:00 p.m. – Americans Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal hit the beach against Poland in Men’s Beach Volleyball
  • 4:15 p.m. – Team USA Women’s Basketball takes on old foe Angola
  • 5:00 p.m. – Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings under the lights against the Czech Republic in Women’s Beach Volleyball

Team First: USA Women’s Gymnastics Qualifies with Mixed Emotions

The USA Women’s Gymnastics Team may be more heralded than the all-time greats that performed in Atlanta in 1996, and they showed the world exactly why Sunday during qualifying. Unfortunately, they were so good all around that some of our girls will actually miss the all around.

First, let’s meet the Fab 5, as they’re now being called. Team Captain Jordyn Wieber, 17, from Michigan is considered the best in the world, and is in London as the defending World Champion from 2011. Gabby Douglas, 16 years old from Virginia Beach, may be the most flamboyant member of the team, having earned the nickname “Flying Squirrel.” Aly Raisman is the eldest member of the team at 18, from Massachusetts, and is a threat on balance beam and floor. Raisman trained with Beijing Olympian Alicia Sacramone. McKayla Maroney, from California has one of the best vaults in the world at 16 years old. Finally, Kyla Ross is the youngest member of the team at 15, born in Hawaii and hailing from California. They call her “Mighty Mouse.” Check out their bios here.

Results Explained

Athletes are competing in the qualifying events on three levels:

1) They’re competing to move on to the individual event finals. Athletes’ scores on individual events determine who qualifies for which events.

2) They’re competing for the individual all-around finals. Athletes’ scores from all events are totaled, and the top eight scores advance. However, there is a rule that states no country may advance more than two gymnasts into the competition. More on that later.

3) They’re competing for their country to advance to the team finals. Four athletes perform each event, but a country is allowed to toss out the lowest score in an event from among their athletes. These scores are then totaled, and the top eight countries advance.

ALL SCORES are reset following the qualifying rounds.

Team Qualifying

Here’s a link to the score results.

Team USA was absolutely phenomenal as a whole, posting the top score of 181.863, more than a full point ahead of traditional rival Russia and more than 5 points ahead of powerhouse China. Romania, host nation Great Britain, Japan, Italy and Canada rounded out the top 8.

The vault is widely considered the Americans’ trump card, and indeed it was USA’s best event. Each American gymnast performs what is called an Amanar vault, named for Romanian Simona Amanar who invented the vault and debuted it in 2000 in Sydney. It is considered one of the most difficult moves in gymnastics. Here is a video of Team USA demonstrating the move. USA began the evening on the vault and didn’t look back.

USA also posted the best team score on Balance Beam, finished second on floor only to Romania and finished third on bars behind China and Russia. These standings are unimportant, as the qualifying is determined by total scores only.

All-Around Qualifying

The girls came out in dominant fashion, with Raisman, Douglas and Wieber taking up three of the top 4 spots in the standings. Ross’s scores were not competitive against the field, and Maroney’s only recorded score was on vault.

It came down to floor exercise, and going into the final performance by Raisman, Douglas and Wieber were the top two scores on the American team. It was an awkward few moments as the judges tallied Raisman’s score, but she had a stellar performance which clinched her the No. 2 qualifying slot, and slotted Douglas at 3 and Wieber at 4.

However, Olympic competition rules state that countries may only field two gymnasts in the all-around. Because of this rule, the No. 4 qualifying score – belonging to Wieber – is not allowed to advance, and the defending world champion all-around individual gymnast will not be able to replicate her success at the Olympics. This was an overwhelming, emotional moment for Wieber, who considers Raisman her best friend and rooms with her in the Olympic Village. To their credit, all the members of Team USA are close, especially Wieber, Raisman and Maroney.

Wieber was visibly distraught, almost inconsolable, and was unavailable for comment until Team USA released a brief statement on her behalf and coaches offered their perspectives on the issue. She has since taken to Twitter to thank fans for their support and is seemingly prepared to compete her best for her country in the Team Finals. Wieber will be an incredibly important part of any success Team USA hopes to have going forward.

Raisman and Douglas will go into the All-Around as heavy medal favorites. Only 17-year-old Russian gymnast Viktoria Komova outscored the American pair in the qualifying round. Joining these three in the finals will be Russian Aliya Mustafina, China’s Deng Linlin and 19 other gymnasts.

Individual Event Qualifying

Floor Exercise

All is not lost for Wieber, however, as she did qualify to compete for an individual medal in the Floor Exercise. Apparently, the two-per-team limit also applies to individual event qualifying. Wieber has the second-best score on Team USA in the Floor event, where she’ll compete with Raisman – who scored best overall in the event – and six others, including two Romanian gymnasts.

Balance Beam

Douglas and Raisman had the top two scores for this event with a 15.266 and 15.100, respectively, and will compete in the beam finals. Their scores were third and fifth overall, respecitvely. Ross JUST missed qualifying for this event with a 15.075; though her score was sixth-best overall, the two-per-country rule applies.

Uneven Bars

Douglas is the only American gymnast who qualified outright for the uneven bars final, and this may be her best event – the one from which she’s earned her nickname due to the incredible height she achieves in transition from bar to bar. Ross, with the second-best USA score, is listed as a reserve. Wieber finished behind Ross.

Vault

Maroney’s only scored event in the qualifying round was the vault, which she qualified in the top spot for. Douglas had an equal score on the vault, but is competing in two individual events already and I believe this is the reason for her exclusion from this event. Further, because Wieber scored lower than Douglas, perhaps this is why she is not qualified for that event, though it would seem that if one athlete is excluded from competing in an event because she’s already in two others, a teammate would be entered back into the pool for consideration.

Analysis

To offer a subjective opinion here, I think the two-per-country rule is a ridiculous rule that must be changed. How can you determine who will win an individual gold medal for the best all-around gymnast if the world’s best gymnasts are precluded from participating in the finals because the two  other best gymnasts in the world are your countrymen or women? That makes absolute zero sense. I realize this is opening a can of worms in my previous arguments against the BCS giving Alabama a slot in the National Championship Game (I still think if you can’t win your own division, you don’t belong, but whatever), but this is a different deal.

In swimming, there is nothing preventing a clean medal sweep, nor in track and field, and there’s no better sight in sports than having three Americans on a podium, hearing the Star-Spangled Banner blared gloriously through arena loudspeakers and beaming with pride as Old Glory hoists in triplicate, representing the Gold, Silver AND Bronze medalists who have performed so admirably in her honor. Figure skating can have this, and gymnastics needs it, too.

However, in terms of pure competition, sometimes it doesn’t work out for the consensus top athlete. Look at Michelle Kwan, who won all sorts of championships but never won an Olympic Gold Medal, finishing second to Tara Lipinski in Nagano and to Sara Hughes in Salt Lake City. Sometimes you’re just beat, and your conqueror happens to wear the same uniform.

I’m very excited to see what someone with Gabby Douglas’ athletic ability and power can do against some of these Russian and Chinese girls, and it’s great to see someone like Raisman, who wasn’t necessarily considered to make it this far, to have a shot at age 18. Remember, gymnasts have peak performing years, generally in their mid-late teens. This may be Raisman’s last shot on the world stage.

Douglas and Raisman are good enough to hang with Komova in the top three slots. I really believe Douglas has the best upside here, as Raisman outperformed her own expectations, but Aly does have the veteran’s experience. Douglas’ weakest performance was on the floor exercise with a major deduction on a stumble out of bounds, and she dominates at uneven bars, though Komova and teammate Aliya Mustafina is strong there too. If executed well, nobody will come close to the US vault scores, and the balance beam competition is, well, balanced.

Look for the individual all-around to come down to the Floor Exercise, and my prediction has Douglas winning gold (homer), Komova silver and Raisman bronze.