Gabby Douglas – America’s Latest Golden Girl – Wins Gymnastics All-Around

Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, Women's Gymnastics Individual All-Around
Gabby Douglas joined Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin in winning the Olympic Gold Medal in the Women’s Individual All-Around (photo belongs to BleacherReport.com)

Again, you’re already well-aware, but the United States was treated to a historic and enthralling performance in the women’s gymnastics Individual All-Around Final Thursday, when 16-year-old Gabby Douglas became only the fourth American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

“The Flying Squirrel” flew into the hearts of fans worldwide when she posted a top overall score of 62.232, just over a quarter of a point more than silver medalist Viktoria Komova of Russia. Komova had posted the top overall qualifying score. Her countrywoman Aliya Mustafina – a global force on the uneven bars – took the bronze in a tiebreaker over American Aly Raisman, with both scoring 59.566.

Douglas joined Mary Lou Retton (1984, Los Angeles), Carly Patterson (2004, Athens) and Nastia Liukin (2008, Beijing) as the only four American women to win the Individual All-Around, and she is the first African-American woman to win gold.

Team USA Pair Qualifies for Individual All-Around, and the Amanar Vault Demonstrated

Vault

The Americans reiterated that they are the best in the world on the vault, nailing their Amanars for the top two overall scores. Douglas posted a meteoric 15.966 – nearly flawless – for the best performance, and Raisman continued her excellence as well, posting a 15.900. Komova, Romania’s Sandra Izbasa and Mustafina finished third through fifth on the apparatus, respectively.

Scores through Rotation 1:

USA Douglas – 15.966
USA Raisman – 15.900
RUS Komova –  15.466
RUS Mustafina – 15.233

Uneven Bars

It was Raisman’s next two rotations that doomed her to finish off the podium. She posted a 14.333 on the uneven bars, struggling and tying for ninth on the apparatus. The Russians are dominant on the bars, with Mustafina and Komova finishing 1-2 with a 16.100 and 15.966, respectively. Douglas is sensational on the bars as well, however, and posted a 15.733 to maintain the lead going into the balance beam.

Scores through Rotation 2:

USA Douglas – 31.699
RUS Komova – 31.432
RUS Mustafina – 31.333
USA Raisman – 30.233

Balance Beam

Raisman struggled again on the beam, which is normally one of her best events, posting a 14.200, good for tenth in the field but within striking distance on the final rotation for a medal. She used her hands to support herself when she leaned over on the beam. Douglas, however, was in good form and scored tops on the beam with a 15.500, putting the pressure on the Russians heading into the floor exercise. Komova held strong in second place with a 15.441, second also on the apparatus. Mustafina fell, scoring a 13.633. China’s Deng Linlin posted the third-best beam score but was not a threat for the medal standings, barring a collapse from one of the contenders on the floor.

Scores through Rotation 3:

USA Douglas – 47.199
RUS Komova – 46.873
RUS Mustafina – 44.966
USA Raisman – 44.433

Floor Exercise

Izbasa ended up having the best performance on the floor exercise, but her scores on beam and bars kept her out of the top four. Mustafina made things interesting, scoring only a 14.600 on the floor, good for sixth overall and leaving the door open for Raisman. The American performed very well, scoring a 15.133 (second-best) with the highest difficulty level among the contenders, but that was just enough for a tie with Mustafina for third. Douglas had a difficulty of 6.100, higher than either Russian, and scored a 15.033, the fourth-best score on the apparatus.

Komova was the final performer on the floor exercise, needing a 15.359 to tie Douglas. Indeed, she had the third-best floor routine, but it was not enough to launch her above Douglas. Her 15.100 was the silver lining on her evening.

Tiebreaker Explained

Mustafina and Raisman completed their all-arounds with the same score of 59.566. Many in the arena, including Raisman and Mustafina themselves, did not realize, then, how the latter was awarded the bronze medal and the former was left off the podium.

The International Gymnastics Federation rules do not provide for dual bronze medalists in the event of a tie. Instead, the tiebreaker totals the gymnasts’ top 3 scores across the four apparatus performances and compares them to determine who places first. Mustafina’s fantastic bar routine, with a 16.100 score, was the edge in the tiebreaker. Mustafina’s total of 45.933 from the bars, vault and floor were just 0.567 points better than Raisman’s 45.366 on the same three apparatuses, clinching her the bronze medal.

Raisman, who found out about the tiebreaker from the media, told the Associated Press she was not mad about the result. “I’m more sad than angry,” Raisman told the AP. “[Mustafina] didn’t do anything wrong. She had a good competition, too.”

Final Standings:

Gold Medal 1.  USAGabby Douglas – 62.232
Silver Medal 2.  RUS Viktoria Komova – 61.973
Bronze Medal 3. RUS Aliya Mustafina – 59.566
4. USA Aly Raisman – 59.566
5. ROU Sandra Izbasa
6. CHN Deng Linlin

Remaining Gymnastics Competition

Raisman will seek redemption on the balance beam, joining Douglas in the event final on the apparatus. Raisman and Jordyn Wieber will also compete in the floor exercise final, while Douglas will go for gold on the uneven bars, and McKayla Maroney will seek to again wow spectators on the vault.

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London Fashion: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from the 2012 Olympics

Editor’s Note:  Not being of the fashion sensibility myself, I decided to outsource the commentary on Team USA’s Olympic fashion sense to someone who at least claims to have a good read on it. So she says. Kelli Eason is an LSU alumna and public relations professional living in Memphis, Tenn. For the record, she is known to wear hot pink shorts often, and I personally liked the Opening Ceremony uniforms.

Let me start by saying I love the Olympics. I love the sports, I love the camaraderie and I love that the entire world almost seems to get along for two weeks. I love these games, but sometimes I get a little distracted by what the athletes are wearing. So let’s take a break in talking about the athletes’ performance for a second and talk about…their outfits.

The Good (And the Interesting)

1.    The Medals

Example of the gold medals awarded at the 2012 London Olympics

As an LSU fan, of course I’m a little biased, but I love those royal purple straps, especially when paired with a shiny gold medal. If I won one, I’d definitely sing the home of the TIGERS with my new bling.

2.    Water Polo Robes and American Flag Speedos

Team USA water polo

Team USA looks like a bunch of Rocky Balboas when they come out. They even wear the robes open, AND they are ‘Merica colors. I don’t think I’d last 10 seconds playing water polo, but if I could, these guys would be intimidating. Also their flag speedos are patriotic, and I’ll admit that I enjoy them.

3.    The Olympic rings tattoos

Olympic Rings tattoo craze
Oy, Matt Grevers’ smile is as golden as his medals…oh, and he has those tattoos…

I’m not sure if this really counts as fashion, but it’s something unique that only happens at the Olympics, so it gets a mention. Has anyone else noticed the Olympic rings tattoos? I have noticed them on the male swimmers this year, but I know lots of other Olympians have them. It’s the placement on the USA male swimmers’ right biceps that intrigued me. It works for me.

4.    Black and white swim caps

Team USA white swim caps (day swims)Team USA black swim cap (night swims)

Not that this is some huge fashion statement, but I thought it was cool. The USA swimmers wear white caps during their day events and black caps during night events. They’re just so clever.

The Bad

1.    Gymnastics leotards that aren’t red, white and/or blue during competitions

To be fair, the USA women’s gymnastics team wore some great red leotards during one of their competitions. They also wore purple and pink in others. Of course they always look great, but come on, people. ‘Merica!

    

You tell me which one looks a little snazzier competing for her country.

2.    T-shirts in beach volleyball. And how they should go away.

Beach volleyball with T-shirts

This goes for both men and women. I understand they’re in London and it’s a little chilly there (about 55 degrees at night, to be exact). Seems as though London could utilize some of those nifty heat lamps every restaurant with a patio employs in the winter, no? At least Team USA is doing it right, though. Nothing looks more awkward to me than the athletes that put their t-shirts UNDER their bathing suit tops. That’s just not even functional, what if they get hot and want to take it off?

Beach Volleyball without t-shirts

3.    The Hair

Danell Leyva's Dad's hair Kohei Uchimara's hair

I’m actually totally neutral on most of the hair in this Olympiad. But let’s be honest, when I’m talking about bad hair, I’m talking about two people: Danell Leyva’s dad and his salty mohawk and that Japanese gymnast, Kohei Uchimura, that I’m confident was an anime character before he was an Olympian. It’s almost creepy…his hair doesn’t move!

The Ugly

1.    Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms

I know I’m not alone in feeling some disappointment in Team USA’s opening ceremony attire. With all the hype leading up to these uniforms – being designed by Ralph Lauren and made in China – I thought they might at least be exciting. Unfortunately, my opinion is that they made our athletes look like snobby sailors, rigid private school children or in the case of Lebron, big guy in a little coat. I loved India’s uniforms, as they were traditional and flowed really beautifully. My advice for next time would be to get something that might call to our heritage a bit, or at least look nice.

Team USA Opening Ceremony Uniforms
Meh.

All in all, the fashion statements being made at the 2012 Olympic Games are not going to make or break them. That said, it is pretty interesting to watch and talk about. Well, fashion statements and China’s antics, anyway.

Editor’s Honorable Mention – Parker Wishik

Okay so I HAVE made a handful of observations Kelli has neglected.

1.  Team USA Women’s Soccer Uniforms

Reminds you somewhat of the nautical theme? I personally am warming to them. They channel the flag and feature the stripe patterns familiar to European soccer – though with the stripes horizontal, they’re more akin to rugby unis.

Team USA women's soccer uniforms
Personally, Alex Morgan could sell any uniform to me.

2.  Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser’s Beach Volleyball Wardrobe

Rogers and Dalhausser

The defending gold medalists from Beijing may have just been bounced in the Round of 16 (tear), but they had been rocking some awesome Americana on the beach, with different uniform on each match.

3.  Team USA Nike lime green kicks

Team USA Nike Sneakers

Boy, these are EVERYWHERE. Our athletes have been wearing them at all stages of the Olympics, from actual competition in events like fencing and track and field to standing on the medal podium (Gabby Douglas and Kayla Harrison) to on-air TV interviews.

What are your thoughts?

USA Gymnast Leyva earns Bronze in Men’s Individual All-Around, Orozco Eighth

After a dismal performance in the men’s team gymnastics finals, Team USA needed a pick-me-up from one of its two gymnasts competiting in the men’s individual all-around. Wednesday saw results more in line with the U.S. women’s standout performance.

Japan’s Kōhei Uchimura took home the gold medal comfortably with a 92.690 score, and Germany’s Marcel Nguyen took silver with a 91.031. American Danell Leyva, who was the top gymnast coming out of qualifying, fended off the competition for a bronze medal, scoring 90.698.

John Orozco finished eighth for the United States with a total score of 89.331, sitting 1.367 points behind Leyva.

Leyva clinched the bronze by scoring highest in the field on horizontal bar and tying Nguyen for best on parallel bars. He was also fourth on the floor exercise.

After being pummeled on the pommel horse in the team competition Monday, the apparatus again proved to be Team USA’s Kryptonite in the all-around. Orozco struggled again with his technique on the pommel, painfully inching into his final handstand before dismounting. Were it not for his low score of  12.566 – only good enough for 23rd-best on the pommel – he may have medaled. He scored eighth or tied for eighth on vault and both bar events, third on the floor and tied for third on the rings, solid all around.

The pommel was also Leyva’s worst event, and his 13.500 was the 19th-best score in the field.

Uchimura, silver medalist in Beijing in 2008 and a three-time defending World Champion in the all-around, came in as the gold medal favorite but had qualified ninth despite a disastrous performance on the pommel horse – ranked 60th in the field. Uchimura returned with a vengeance, posting the second-best score on pommel with a 15.066. He gave up ground to Leyva and Nguen on floor and parallel bars, but his vault was best in the field, and his marks on horizontal bar and rings were second-best.

Nguyen scored in the top five on four events – tops on rings and tied for first on parallel bars – and ninth on vault.

Leyva’s medal was the 60th all-time Olympic men’s gymnastics medal won by the United States.

The American men are not done in competition at the London Games; still to come are the individual apparatus finals. Jake Dalton qualified fourth on floor exercise and will compete in the finals August 5. Leyva is a reserve in the pommel horse finals, also set for August 5, and the parallel bars finals August 7. Jonathan Horton is a reserve on the rings and would need help to compete in the finals August 6. Sam Mikulak is set to compete in the vault finals August 6. Leyva and Horton both qualified for the horizontal bar finals August 7.

 

Golden Girls: USA outlasts Russia, Wins First Women’s Gymnastics Team Finals Since 1996

It all came crashing down to the floor. The hopes and dreams of a gold medal – the latest victory in a storied history of women’s gymnastics – were within reach…

But Russia can’t win them all.

The Fab Five of Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney were nearly flawless on each apparatus today as Team USA – dominant in the qualifying round – held off rotation-mate Russia for its first gold medal in the Women’s Gymnastics Team Final since 1996. The Russians went home with the silver medal, and Romania held off China for the bronze, though neither country threatened to finish any higher.

There was no need this time for a heroic, one-legged vault, a la Kerri Strug’s timeless feat from Atlanta – just consistency and, some thought, Wieber’s ability to overcome the disappointment of missing the all-around final due to a rule limiting each country to two gymnasts. But truly, that was never an issue.

U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Qualifying Performance and Meet the Team

Vault (Wieber, Douglas, Maroney)

Remember, the Americans perform what is called an Amanar vault – the most difficult type. Wieber led off with great technique on her vault and a very minor step on the landing, netting a fantastic 15.933 score. But that would end up being only the third-best score of the round – behind her two own teammates.

Douglas followed with an acrobatic run and a  15.966 score. Vault specialist McKayla “Air” Maroney is the gymnastics equivalent of a lefty relief pitcher specialist in baseball – the vault is the only apparatus she will compete on at the Games. Maroney launched powerfully off the vault, achieving rare air and landing daintily to applause throughout the venue and a 16.233 score – the best of the finals. And I laughed aloud at the incredulity of her perfection.

Russia posted vaults of 15.233 and 15.833, before Maria Paseka  fell off the pad for a 15.300, keeping the U.S. on top heading into the bars by 1.7.

Standings through Rotation 1:

USA USA – 48.132
RUS RUS – 46.366

Uneven Bars (Wieber, Ross, Douglas)

Russia came in with great strength on the bars and posted the second-best total on the event to the Chinese. Aliya Mustafina of Russia has actually created a release technique from the bars which has been named for her, and she executed it well with only a minor step. Russia finished with a 46.166 on the apparatus.

Team USA led off again with Wieber, who posted a 14.666 after a minor step on the release. Ross, who is the youngest member of the Fab 5 at 15, then posted solid 14.933, and Douglas, a.k.a. “The Flying Squirrel” for her powerful launches and speed on the bars, followed with a team-best 15.200, sixth-best overall. But the Americans were third overall on the apparatus – the only one they did not win on the evening – and the huge lead had dwindled to 0.399.

Standings through Rotation 2:

USA USA – 92.931
RUS RUS – 92.532

Balance Beam (Ross, Douglas, Raisman)

Ross led off the American rotation on the balance beam with a 15.133, and Douglas followed with the Americans’ best turn, a 15.233. Raisman closed with a 14.933, turning the apparatus over to the Russians. Aliya Mustafina had a slight misstep and scored a low 14.533 for her country, which totaled 44.399 on the apparatus, good enough for third overall behind Romania.

Going into the final event, Russia was down 1.299 to the Americans, who had a score of 138.23 and could clinch the gold with a consistent, solid showing on the floor.

Standings through Rotation 3:

USA USA – 138.230
RUS RUS – 136.931

Floor Exercise (Douglas, Wieber, Raisman)

With Russia and the United States staging a cold war of sorts on the scoreboard through three rotations, the gold was decided on the floor exercise. And that is where the typical icewater Russian resolve melted away.

It would take an epic comeback for Russia to put the pressure on the Americans, but before Team USA could even take the floor, Russia’s hope had hit it. Mustafina completed a stylish and solid routine but did have a couple missteps near the end, scoring a 14.800. But then, Anastasia Grishina tumbled to the floor before she could complete one of her style elements. The deduction was, as NBC commentator Tim Daggett summarized, “catastrophic.” Grishina posted a 12.466 – lowest in the field. Ksenia Afanasyeva also stumbled and followed with a 14.333, placing the Russians sixth out of eight squads on the floor and holding the door open for  the Americans to breeze to the gold.

Enter Gabby Douglas with an athletic routine on the floor, earning a 15.066 (third-best in the field). All eyes were on Wieber, with a shot at redemption and a chance to clinch the gold. She did not disappoint, running a confident and critical floor routine and scoring 15 flat. Raisman punctuated the victory with an effervescent routine and scoring a field-high 15.300, shedding tears of joy even before finishing after nailing the landing on her final element, with a beaming Wieber cheering her on.

It was a poignant victory for Team USA, with the Fab 5 holding hands until the official score was posted. Each of the girls excelled at her personal strength and contributed to what was a truly dominant team victory, regardless of whatever individual ambitions existed from the qualifying round. With their parents and families in attendance, the Fab 5 joined the 1996 women’s team as all-time American Olympic greats.

FINAL STANDINGS

1 USAUSA 183.596
2 RUSRUS 178.530
3 ROUROU 176.414
4 CHNCHN 174.430
5 CANCAN 170.804
6 GBRGBR 170.495
7 ITAITA 167.930
8 JPNJPN 166.646

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

2012 Summer Olympics – Day 1: New Names and Old Faces

Day One of the 2012 London Olympics has come and gone and we’ve already seen some incredible last-second finishes, suspense, surprise and incredible feats of accuracy and athleticism. Here’s a synopsis of what we saw today. Please bear with me as I’ll pass on talking about stuff like weightlifting, air rifle and table tennis, which you’re welcome to check out if you’re interested on NBC’s website, http://www.nbcolympics.com.

Actually…

Table Tennis

I caught this on TV earlier and I think it’s worth mentioning. Ariel Hsing, a 16-year-old daughter of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants, made it to the second round of the table tennis tournament. This is a girl who calls Bill Gates and Warren Buffet “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Warren” and plays ping-pong at Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meetings. That’s mind-boggling. Anyway, read more about the story here, all credit to NBC’s online writers.

Now for the good stuff:

Swimming

Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final

Probably the worst-kept secret in America is now finally out in the open (thank you, tape-delay NBC broadcasts), and the world knows Ryan Lochte has finally established himself among swimming’s elite, handily beating Michael Phelps and six other swimmers for the men’s 400m individual medley gold medal. Lochte set himself up to win with a stellar 100m backstroke – which is his best stroke – but won with a phenomenal breaststroke. By the time he was finishing the freestyle, he was in no danger of losing the gold. Lochte is the fifth-straight American male swimmer to win this event.

First, let’s not knock Lochte for swimming collegiately for the Florida Gators after moving South from Rochester, NY. He’s an SEC man, and that’s good enough. And did you know he’s part Cuban? But to his credit, this isn’t that huge of a surprise. Lochte, who is only about to turn 28, has been a name to watch since the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, where he helped the USA win gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay (WITH Phelps) and won silver in the 200m individual medley. He followed that up by winning bronze in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, individual gold in the 200m backstroke and repeating gold in the 4x200m team free relay in world record fashion.

Let’s also not knock Michael Phelps for finishing a human fourth place by a handful of $5 footlongs. But this was an event he didn’t want to swim this time around, anyway. Arguably his best stroke – butterfly – was the first leg, and he’s only been training on this event for a matter of months, as opposed to Lochte’s obsessive four years of training. Oh, and by the way, as of today he only has 16 medals to his name. Was the all-time iconic performance in Beijing not enough to satiate our need for hero-worship?

Lochte will have more opportunities to win medals, competing in his best event, the 200m back, as well as the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley. He’ll likely swim relay for the USA, too. Phelps still has the 100m and 200m fly, 200m individual medley 4x100m and 4×200 free relays and the 4x100m medley relays to go. He’ll have swum every event he won in Beijing except for the 200m free.

Which team are you on: Team Ryan or Team Michael?

Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final

Natalie Coughlin saw the sun set with a bronze tint on her Olympic career as the US women finished bronze in the 4x100m free. Coughlin earned the quickest time on the US team in the prelims but was passed over for the final relay team, though her earlier swim earned her whatever medal the final team won. Instead, she watched as the next wave of swimming stars – Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt – kept stride with Australia until the final lap, during which they were also passed by the Dutch by less than half a second.

Coughlin joins Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson with 12 medals, the most all-time by an American female Olympian. There’s a slight chance she could compete in 2016 in Rio, but it seems unlikely.

Women’s 400m Individual Medley Final

The USA performed well in the medleys today, as Elizabeth Beisel, only 19 years old, finished a distant second for the silver medal behind a world record performance by China’s Ye Shiwen. American Caitlin Leverenz was also in the final. Beisel faltered early in the butterfly but regained the lead during the breaststroke, only to see Shiwen power past her in the freestyle. Beisel finished with a time of 4:31.27, fractions of a second under the American record. Beisel is the only American Olympian from Rhode Island competing in London.

Men’s 400m Freestyle Final

It was a great day for swimmers from Rochester. In what may be his final Olympics, Peter Vanderkaay snagged the bronze in the men’s 400m free. Vanderkaay had previously won an individual bronze in Beijing and was a part of those golden 4x200m relays in 2004 and 2008.

Preliminaries

American female swimmer Dana Vollmer – also from upstate New York – set an Olympic Record in the 100m fly with a time of 56.36, and Texan Claire Donahue also made it into final with a 57.42. Four-time Olympic medalist Brendan Hansen barely sneaked into the men’s 100m breaststroke final, finishing sixth in his heat but qualifying eighth overall.

Beach Volleyball

Women

Misty May and Kerri Walsh are back! The dynamic duo that once was and almost wasn’t has reunited for a third and final run at Olympic gold in the women’s beach volleyball event.

Now both married (May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings), the greatest force in their sport’s history will operate as the No. 3 seed in a pairing that seemed finished after Beijing. Walsh Jennings, under the assumption that May-Treanor was done competing, asked Nicole Branagh to prepare to play in London as her partner. It wasn’t until May-Treanor woke crying one morning that she realized she wanted to compete one last time, so she initiated the conversation with Walsh Jennings, who then had the unpleasant task of informing Branagh.

The world benefited from the decision, however, and today the duo debuted against No. 22 Australian pairing Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley. Three of the four athletes – Cook, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings – are all gold medalists. It was a vigorous match throughout, with the Americans taking the first set 21-18 after trading points several times with the Aussies. Team USA seemed beatable, even though coming into the match they had NEVER LOST A SINGLE SET in Olympic play. It remained that way, as another back-and-forth set culminated with an absolutely incredible series of volleys. May-Treanor pulled several digs from the brink of scoring including an acrobatic left-handed dive, then fired into a push by Hinchley to clinch the match, 21-19. They are now 15-0 in Olympic play, winning all 30 sets.

The other US pairing of April Ross and Jen Kessy play Sunday.

Men

Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb had less of a struggle in their opening match Saturday, defeating South Africa in straight sets, 21-11, 21-10. Gibb, a cancer survivor, led most of the statistical categories. The pair is the No. 2 ranked American team behind Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, who open play tomorrow.

Soccer

The US Women shut out Colombia today, 3-0, with goals by Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe. You know the latter two as the Pia Sundhage played around with the lineup a bit to start the game today, replacing Shannon Boxx who was injured with Lloyd and starting Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts. Wambach’s goal was her sixth Olympic goal, which is the most by an American woman in history.

The game was chippy throughout, and that continued after the match off the pitch when goalkeeper Hope Solo sent a couple of snide comments Brandi Chastain’s way via Twitter. Chastain – an all-time great defender in her own right – is a commentator for the women’s games and offered some criticism of the US defense, which Solo didn’t take a  liking to. But let’s let bygones be bygones – the US is in the quarterfinals.

Women’s Basketball

What a dominant showing by Team USA against Croatia, at least in the closing quarter of the game. Croatia, not considered a relative powerhouse by any means, stuck with the Americans, who struggled to find shots and hit the glass on offense early. The lead was within single digits early in the fourth quarter before USA went on a run and won, 81-56.

A lot has been made of whether the current men’s roster would take out the Dream Team from 1992 (for that matter, would they beat the 1996 team?), but goodness, the women’s roster is incredibly stacked as well. Think of the consensus best players in the country in women’s basketball for the last several years. Got em? Chances are they’re in this list of women on Team USA: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings. Sylvia Fowles, Swin Cash and Lindsey Whalen were no slouches in their day, either.

The roster breakdown comprises six former UConn Lady Huskies, two Tennessee Lady Vols and two LSU Lady Tigers. Elite. Talent. Props also to Minnesota and Louisville for being represented.

Oh, and coaching maestro Geno Auriemma is in charge.

Men’s Gymnastics

If you like elite talent in your men’s gymnastics, you might be disappointed this time around. Many of the top competitors underperformed during the qualifying events, including huge slip ups by powerhouses China and Japan. Team USA is sitting in great position for a medal, perhaps gold, when the team finals take place on Monday.

There are some great stories among the men’s team, perhaps none more interesting than that of John Orozco, a kid from the inner-city Bronx who has endured socioeconomic struggles and battled serious injuries on his way to London.

Rowing

I actually really enjoy the Olympic rowing events, so I paid attention today as Team USA advanced to the finals of the men’s eight, an event dominated recently by Germany, and the US also put a boat into the women’s pair finals.

Archery

I know I posted previously, but a shout-out to the USA men’s archery team for clinching the first medal of the Games for us – a silver – and reminding me that even watching people shoot a bow and arrow at a target not only takes world-class precision and skill, but is also pretty entertaining when the chips are down.

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE

I’ll post a schedule of events tomorrow morning!  Enjoy your evening!