The first day of “official” Olympics play is in the book and we already have some noteworthy stories developing as well as some medals that have been handed out. Here’s a look at Saturday’s more memorable action:
For Phelps, There’s a Lochte to Lose
Of course, the biggest development came in last night’s Men’s 400-metre Individual Medley. The media has made plenty of waves (pun intended) when it comes to the supposed rivalry between teammates Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. But in their first face-off, it was really no contest.
Lochte left Phelps and others in his wake (again, pun intended) as he tore his way to Team USA’s first Gold Medal. Perhaps even more shocking was the fact that Phelps failed to medal and came in fourth. Combine that with his dismal performance in the preliminary heat’s where Phelps was the eighth qualifier and the proverbial “last man in”, and it seems clear that the day was a total wash (seriously, I could do this all day, people) for the Olympic great.
Phelps said he wasn’t going to walk in the Opening Ceremonies because of the toll it took on the athletes. Ironically, Phelps COULD have walked, partied all night, and still walked away with the same number of medals. It will be interesting to see if this poor start carries over into his six other scheduled programs.
Cycling With a ‘K’ (And a Silent ‘H’)
One of the games earliest Gold Medals went, in a surprise placing, to 38-year-old Kazakhstani cyclist Alexander Vinokurov in the Men’s Road Race. As the pack headed back towards Buckingham Palace and the finish line, Swedish cyclist Fabian Cancellara, a strong contender, misjudged the sharpness of a turn and crashed headfirst into a course barrier.
Shortly thereafter, Vinokurov and Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran tore off from the lead pack and formed their own two-man drafting alliance. Vinokurov was behind Uran when a wily and well-timed move catapulted him into the lead. As Uran looked over his left shoulder to check to look for his competitor, Vinokurov broke right and sprinted for daylight. By the time Uran figured out what happened, it was too late.
Vinokurov’s move secured a precious piece of Gold for an unexpected medal contender. For now, the Asian country joins Australia and Russia in nation’s with one Gold medal and nothing else. The three are currently tied for seventh in the overall medal count.
Cinderella Misses Her Mark by One Point
The words “archery” and “enthralling” haven’t always been used in the same sentence, but they certainly were Saturday afternoon.
The Men’s US Archery team pulled one of the biggest upsets so far into these Olympic games when they downed the record-breaking and heavily-favored South Koreans in the semifinals of the Team Competition.
In the finals, the yankee underdogs went toe-to-toe with Italy, another archery powerhouse, and the Gold Medal came down to the final shot, LITERALLY. Heading into the final three shots for each team, the U.S. squad trailed Italy by just one point. Their archers shot and scored a 10, 9, and 8 to round out their day. If Italy was going to win, they would have to match or do even better. The first arrow stuck in for a 9, but when the second went wayward for an 8, fans got their hopes up as the door opened slightly for the Americans. But Italy put an end to all that as their third and final arrow struck the thin black line between the 9 and 10, a shot that is scored a 10 and gave the Italians the Gold Medal.
Rough Start For the Ladies’ Dream Team
For all the comparisons that have been made between the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team and that from the 1992 Barcelona Games, the women’s team might be even heavier Gold Medal favorites. But if that notion got to their head, they got a stiff reality check yesterday.
Tipping off against Croatia, the two teams played perhaps one of the ugliest quarters of basketball in Olympic history. Then, in the second quarter, both teams heated up but Croatia got white hot and pulled the contest into a dead heat where the game remained up until the last five minutes of the game or so.
Team USA absolutely obliterated the same squad in a warm-up game before the Olympics but got a good scare when it counted. Hopefully the team will learn its lesson and make adjustments before it costs them a loss.
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others, click here.
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